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Fading hope

Barack Obama has been president for almost a year.  He’s had enough time to make some decisions, and to set a trajectory for his presidency.  How has he been doing?

I really don’t want to say “shitty.”

I know he has more than three years left.  I know the nation can’t turn on a dime, and the president is only one small part of the problem, and GWB buried us in a deep hole, and yadda yadda yadda.

But consider:

  • Obama is actively supporting many of the most odious policies of the Bush administration in the so-called War on Terror, especially detention without charge or trial, and an excessive use of the state secrets doctrine.  He’s not making any attempt to hold people from the last administration accountable for breaking the law.  One by one, the members of his administration that might have advocated a more robust return to the rule of law are quitting or being forced out.
  • Obama is not confronting the banking crisis forcefully.  The members of the Obama team who advocate a tougher line on too-big-to-fail are being ignored.
  • Obama seems poised to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Now I’m prepared to be patient, and I’m willing to give Obama the benefit of any doubts.  Especially on Afghanistan, a complicated issue that resists easy solutions and can’t be reduced to rant-worthy talking points, I’m going to suspend judgment and see what happens.  But in another year the presidential election cycle will start to gear up again, and Obama will find it harder to avoid the government-as-campaign plague that tempts officeholders to rely on demagoguery.

So he’d better shit or get off the pot.  Hope is fading fast.


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