Obama's four biggest failures
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Conservatives like to complain that Barack Obama is the most liberal president we've ever had, a closet Marxist who's determined to turn America into a socialist hell.
Actual liberals, socialists and closet Marxists have a different view: Obama is pragmatic moderate who resembles Dwight Eisenhower more than he does Che Guevara.
Liberals were early and enthusiastic supporters of Obama in 2008. They liked his anti-war stance, and they were moved by the vision of a less-partisan and more enlightened future they thought they heard in his rhetoric.
Four years later, liberals are disappointed in Obama, although they will hold their noses to vote for him, contribute money to him and volunteer to campaign for him. But they won't like it.
Lest you think I'm exaggerating, consider this: MoveOn.org, a leading liberal grassroots organization, officially backed candidate Obama on Feb. 1, 2008, an early endorsement that helped him defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
But this year, MoveOn didn't get around to endorsing Obama until just last week, despite the fact that there is no liberal alternative. One top leader of MoveOn said that members had moved on to other candidates who excited them more, such as Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.
Liberals will vote for Obama over Mitt Romney, but they aren't happy with him. And here are the four biggest reasons why they aren't:
He didn't end the depression.
Many liberals thought Obama would be the second coming of FDR. However, the response under Obama was inadequate to the task. Millions of people are suffering needlessly as a result.
The initial stimulus was too small. Then, with the rise of the tea party, the Obama administration stopped using the word "stimulus" at all. The whole idea of Keynesian stimulus has been so thoroughly discredited by Obama's failure that it won't even be tried in our next crisis.
We didn't sufficiently re-regulate the financial system to make sure that too-big-to-fail banks can't destroy the global economy again, nor did we prosecute any of the bankers, traders or mortgage lenders responsible for the meltdown. Obama surrounded himself with advisers who were implicated in the de-regulation that caused the crisis, thus ceding the high moral ground and cutting off policy ideas that could have worked.
We still have too many houses heading for foreclosure, and too many families burdened with debts that will never be repaid. And we didn't get the infrastructure we'll need to keep the economy growing for our kids and grandkids.
He continued George W. Bush's war policies.
Obama won the nomination in 2008 against Clinton by clearly differentiating himself as the peace candidate. But since taking the oath, he's kept Bush's policies in place.
We knew he'd continue the Afghanistan war, but we thought he'd fight in a way that was more effective, more moral and more legal. The prison at Guantanamo Bay has not been closed as he promised. Renditions and torture continue. Wiretapping is rampant. The war on terror is in full swing in Pakistan, Yemen and other backwaters, even if it's been scaled back in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's ordered the assassination of American citizens without trial.
He has not changed the way Washington works.
Obama promised to sever the link between money and politics, to end our "pay to play" government, but he's failed. He banned lobbyists from working in his administration, then he backtracked. He promised not to accept contributions from SuperPACs, then he backtracked.
He invited lobbyists from the pharmaceuticals and the health-insurance industries to write his health-care reform law, and let bankers to write the bank reform bill, which is why those laws are so convoluted, unworkable and unpopular. He allowed political donors to control the funding for green energy projects.
Obama said his election would send a message to "the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over." It didn't.
He has not done anything meaningful to halt global warming.
What a difference four years make. During the 2008 campaign, Obama said that global warming was one of our greatest challenges, promising to make it a personal top priority of his administration. He said he'd "put a price on carbon" so that market forces would work to wean our economy off fossil fuels.
However, facing too much political opposition and public indifference, Obama has now abandoned global warming as an issue. Did you know that Obama didn't attend the big Rio environmental summit this weekend? Did you even know there was a summit?
Sure, he's increased fuel-efficiency of vehicles, and adopted other common-sense conservation ideas, but at the same time he's increased his support for natural gas, coal and petroleum as energy sources, the very fuels that are strangling our planet.
It's not as if scientists have decided that global warming is no longer a concern. Just last week, the OECD warned that climate change and other environmental pressures could "endanger two centuries of rising living standards."
Polls show the American people are much more concerned about creating jobs today than they are about the immense costs that global warming could impose tomorrow. And like every other politician, Obama follows the polls.
Sorry, Earth, but we have an election to win.
The worst part.
Failure is a given in politics. The president is not a dictator, or even particularly influential in domestic politics. In our system of checks and balances and diffused power, no one -- even a president -- can get his way on everything.
What bothers liberals is not Obama's failures, but the way he failed: Without a whimper. Obama forgot the first rule of organizing, which is to make sure that your failures strengthen you for the next fight.