| There's been a lot of angry comments from the left over Congressional Democrats' and President Obama's job performance thus far this year. But it's not all universal. To some, Obama's first year in office has been historical in the amount of progressive legislation or government functions that have been passed or implemented.
For one, Kossak bacalove posted Professor Robert Watson's list of Obama's "90 accomplishments" during his first term. Watson claimed Obama's "first six months have been even more active than FDRs or LBJs..."
Sadly, though, Watson's list is peppered with meaningless items. Like #1: "ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending." Uh, call me a cynic... Other items are nice, but neither critical nor transformative, like #5, "families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB." Yes, it's a meaningful gesture to the troops and their families, and is likely to have positive effects on troop morale, but it's a service provided for a few, not a major "accomplishment."
|Worse still, Watson's included "announcements." If "has announced his intention to push for energy reform" and "has announced his intention to push for education reform" count as accomplishments, then I have accomplished quite a bit in my lifetime! Heck, as a kid I announced both that I was going to be an astronaut and a stand-up comic! Quite an eclectic set of accomplishments, right? Right?
Then there are fudged items. Like #21, "the prison at Guantanamo Bay is being phased out." Uh, great. But what about reinstating habeas corpus, and prosecuting those that implemented, designed, and ordered torture of detainees? And items that, well, aren't really "accomplishments," just the perpetuation of a broken system, like #22, "US auto industry rescue plan," and #26, "US financial and banking rescue plan." Or ol' #81, "deployed additional troops to Afghanistan." Um, excuse me?
The sad thing about this list is that it buries Obama's real accomplishments in the padded list. The administration's depoliticizing of science (#71) is actually a major reform, especially as it addresses climate science: the regulation of carbon emissions by the EPA (#43) is huge, and allows the government to directly address climate change under existing air pollution legislation. Ending no-bid defense contracts (#62) and cutting the F-22 (#13) represent a real shift in ideology and defense spending - though in practice they're minor changes.
That's the thing. There are subtle, yet significant, shifts in policy that are occurring under Obama. Despite all the frustration I've vented against health-care reform in Congress and the president's unwillingness to advocate for real, effective reform, I think Jacob Weisberg is essentially right when he writes:
We are so submerged in the details of this debate-whether the bill will include a "public option," limit coverage for abortion, or tax Botox-that it's easy to lose sight of the magnitude of the impending change. For the federal government to take responsibility for health coverage will be a transformation of the American social contract and the single biggest change in government's role since the New Deal.
I think a lot of us get impatient with the incremental and half-assed reforms that seem designed to coddle the industries that created our healthcare crisis, but then, we've already accepted the idea that government should have a hand in universal access to health care.
Does this mean I think the bill couldn't be better, and I'm full of joy and glee about it? Of course not. Do I think that a similar compromised approach to climate change would be acceptable? H*ll, no; I've got children whose livelihood and living standard is threatened by a man-made natural disaster! But it's important, too, not to be blinded by our own circular debates and ideology and realize how big our problems are and how difficult it is to move the government, an economy, an industry, and popular opinion. Do I think our current crises need to be met with boldness and real reforms? Yes, and I think they'd be popular. But, then, I'm not president, nor will I ever be president, let alone the lowliest staffer on the least powerful House Representative's staff. (Apparently Rehberg has all the help he needs.)
I like what Wulfgar! wrote about the debate and rhetoric through out the healthcare bill's creation. A lot of criticism of Obama and Congressional Democrats has been both on the money and helpful...and totally off-the-wall loony. So when I see sh*t like this, I have to agree 100-hundred-percent with Wulfie:
What actually took place is that we have a really crappy Senate bill that could have been worse except for the left flank, and could have been better if they hadn't tried so hard to scare people and piss them off. Now, we have the left flank joining the teabaggers in calling for the firing of administration officials and even as far as the impeachment of the back-stabbing President. If you are rational, you have to ask yourself the question: When I agree that my enemy is insane, and I hope for the same outcomes of my enemy, am I all that mentally put together?
Or, Jeff Fecke: "Quite honestly, if Grover Norquist approached me and asked me to help him in his quest to save puppies, it would lead me to rethink my feelings about puppies."
So, yeah, forgive me for not tearing my chest hair in agony right now. Reform is happening. Maybe not at the speed I'd hoped. Maybe not in the direction I'd like to see it go. But things are happening.