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Obama: Promises, Ratings and Vicious Attacks
President Barack Obama is the target of increasingly vile attacks from the extreme right. Unfortunately, his timid response to certain issues gives these mobsters added grist for their campaign. It's hard to imagine any job being more difficult than the one the President inherited: George W. Bush and his corporate cronies had led the nation into a depression second only to that of the 1930s and two wars resulting in hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars needlessly. The tea party crowd capitalizes on the silence of the white majority, many of whom apparently voted for Obama out of desperation and have reverted to a more comfortable, race-based reticence.
Amidst the euphoria following Barack Obama's election, this column cautioned against considering him an icon, beyond criticism. Blacks especially, placed unrealistic expectations on the man and many are disappointed in his performance thus far. But this could be a healthy sign since expectations may now be more in line with the limitations of the presidency. Thus far, Obama has given little indication that Blacks are, or will be, a high priority for his administration-a sobering thought for many Blacks who mistakenly believed that his election, ipso facto, signaled a better future.
President Obama's back-pedaling on issues like Guantanamo and universal healthcare, and his failure to focus on creating jobs do not auger well for progressive change. But one year is not a presidency and the huge mess he inherited is practically indescribable.
Last week, Bob Herbert, a Black New York Times columnist and Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, wrote complimentary articles contending President Obama must focus on creating new jobs as the sine qua non for maintaining and restoring public confidence.
Herbert's column, entitled, "A Word Mr. President," begins, "...Mr. President, you have two urgent and overwhelming tasks in front of you: To put Americans trapped in this terrible employment crisis back to work and to put the brakes on your potentially disastrous plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan."
Acknowledging the importance of reforming the healthcare system, Herbert nonetheless argues that in terms of pressing national priorities, the most important are the need to find solutions to catastrophic employment that is devastating American families and to end an 8-year-old war that is extremely debilitating and, ultimately unwinnable. He describes the healthcare debates as "tedious and unenlightening while the jobless rate has steadily surged." His main argument is that the U.S. needs to readjust its focus and be more worried about Detroit going down the tubes than about Kabul.
He would also tell Mr. Obama that the feeling is widespread that his administration went too far with its bailout of the financial industry, "sending not just a badly needed lifeline, but also unwarranted windfalls to the miscreants who nearly wrecked our entire country." The fat cats are doing very well while working people whose taxes financed the bailouts are on the verge of financial ruin.
Dr. Ron Daniels' article is entitled, "Job Losses Pose Danger for Obama and the Democrats, it begins, "There is a rebellion against Washington brewing across the land, and that's bad news for President Obama and the Democrats." He cites the dramatic turndown in the economy and feels that although the meltdown was inherited by President Obama, "What people care about most is whether they see the government addressing their pain and whether any visible actions are being taken that give them hope that their job opportunities will improve in the near future."
Daniel's says instead, what people are witnessing in Washington is a protracted and divisive struggle over healthcare reform while the stock market is rising as are bank and investment company profits. But the average person--and low-wage earners especially--are hurting and becoming increasingly upset because the administration is not dealing with their needs.
Daniels contends that a potential rebellion is yet another consequence of the timidity of President Obama in dealing with the inherited economic crisis, arguing that Obama's stimulus package was too small to achieve the job generation needed to reverse the meltdown. Clearly, the Republicans and conservative extremists are determined to see him fall and whatever Obama's strategies, he will not succeed without being bold and decisive. Daniels believes the President should generate a substantial job-generating stimulus package and dare the Republicans and their asinine cohorts to oppose it. He also feels that the Republicans, whose policies provoked the economic catastrophe and were repudiated by the voters last year, may regain control of Congress unless President Obama asserts bold leadership. He was elected because he represented not only hope, but a potential for concrete, sustainable change and should not compromise his principles at the altar of political expediency.
Bob Herbert and Dr. Ron Daniels have it right. And, from a Black perspective, Herbert's summation fits: "While preparing to pour more resources into Afghanistan, one in five
American children is living in poverty, that nearly 35% of African American are living in poverty and that the employment crisis is pushing up toward a point in the coming years where more than half of all Black children in this country will be poor.... Mr. President, we need your help."
Larry Aubry can be contacted at