Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Assessing Barack Obama

Nine and a half months after being inaugurated, and nine and a half months after the elections of 2010 began to be discussed by Republicans and the media, the President's record is being scrutinized. Yet again; it is scrutinized daily.

Slow progress in closing Guantánamo Bay

The Right has pushed back, hard. And no state, or nary a state, as well as no European country (many of which do lecture the US about such matters as Guantánamo). wish to take any of the released.

Energy and Environment Some progress, but the big fight is still ahead

And it will be a doozy.

High hopes but slow progress in bringing together Arabs and Israelis

A WSJ story today was headlined U.S. Reins In Its Expectations for Middle East Peace Talks

The Obama administration is scaling back its ambitions for the Arab-Israeli peace process, focusing on maintaining some degree of low-level dialogue in the face of big divisions between the two sides.

U.S. officials began outlining Washington's diminished expectations as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton completes a one-week tour of the Middle East on Wednesday. She had tried to kick-start a new round of talks during stops in Israel and Arab capitals, but the divisions proved too wide to bridge.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused U.S. calls for a complete freeze of settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians have ruled out resuming negotiations without the freeze.

This is the textbook definition of intractable.

Nuclear Proliferation Arms cuts, and holding the line on Iran and North Korea

Iraq Winding down one war while debating the widening of another

Budget A fiscal kick for the economy in the short run, a daunting deficit down the road

Without fixing the economy, nothing else would have mattered, really.

Social Issues A break with eight years of conservative dominance

Education More money, and an effort to reward schools and approaches that work

Trade Backing off from pledges on Nafta and tax breaks

Always easy for candidates to speak grandiosely about fixing this or improving that, but economic realities are quite another matter.

Influence Curbing lobbyists but not lobbying Impossible.

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