President Barack Obama takes a break from his official duties to celebrate his 48th birthday August 4, at the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington. Photo by AP Photo/Ron Edwards
President Barack Obama--the second hundred daysThere is the TARP, Healthcare Reform, Supreme Court Nominee, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Global Warming and Cash for Clunkers; the President turned 48 on Tuesday.By Yussuf J. SimmondsSentinel Assistant Managing EditorAs expected, President Barack Obama is now further into his first term; and whatever is happening--good, bad or indifferent--is all on his shoulders. It's now his watch exclusively, at least, that is what the country believes, according to the polls. The Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) seems to be falling short of its once lofty goals. According to the economists, the financial forecasters and even the administration's point men, the recession is slowing, signs of relief are evident, the gross national product is coming under control and the housing market is picking up. But foreclosures are still out of control, the job market is still hemorrhaging losses and the lending institutions are still not lending despite massive government bailouts. The President has a lot riding on reforming the nation's healthcare system in order to provide healthcare for all. The majority of Americans and their representatives have acknowledged that the present healthcare is fatally flawed and needs an overhaul. The real problem is who has the correct solution. Several versions of the Healthcare Bill have been floating through Congress for the past few months and with the senators and the representatives off on their summer break, it is safe to say, no healthcare bill is about to be passed soon. Members of Congress have gone home to their districts to gauge their constituents' position on the status of healthcare. But with many of them out of work, healthcare seems to be a luxury. Jobs and homes are paramount to be able to afford healthcare except for the retired, who medical needs appear to be out of their financial reach. Healthcare is one of the president's top domestic priorities and some of the Democrats seem to be straddling the fence, which prompted the President to say, "It may get to a point where we go in a different direction."So what's the good news for President Obama's second hundred days--Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation will be a shoo in. The biggest hurdle she has faced was about a remark she made during a speech saying, "A Wise Latina woman would make better legal decisions that a White man." That statement did not go over well with the group of White male Republicans who questioned her about her judicial impartiality despite her sterling legal credentials and qualifications to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice. However, Senator Charles Schumer, a ranking Democrat from New York predicted, "Judge Sotomayor would be approved by a large margin."The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be the most troublesome issue of Obama's campaign rhetoric which led to the observation that candidates sometimes say things presidents are unable to do. Ending the war in Iraq and withdrawing the troops in 16 months do not appear to be on track. As a matter of fact, the President mentioned possibly leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq after the conflict subsides. The war in Afghanistan is escalating rapidly. There has been a massive infusion of troops and there seems to be no end in sight with nuclear Pakistan on its border that has been quarrelling with nuclear India for decades. The region is as volatile as the Middle East.Critics of the administration have accused Obama of following the playbook of former President George W. Bush in Iraq, Afghanistan and with reference to the Guantanamo detainees. Former senator and presidential candidate George Mc Govern wrote a caustic denunciation of the president's policies and how closely they seem to pattern his predecessor.Most of the American public seems to agree with the President's initiatives on global warming. He is in favor of the Kyoto Treaty which created the protocol for the stabilizing the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere and as economically troublesome as the cash- for-clunkers may seem, it may produce tremendous environmental dividends in the future. Notwithstanding, reducing the country's dependence of foreign oil, providing greenhouse energy job market and reducing pollution.President Obama does have some reasons to enjoy his 48th birthday.