So CNN is running this 100 Day Report Card of the Obama administration dealie that showed up in my Facebook. I compulsorily graded Mr. President & was done with it. But 40 FB wall comments later, I thought I’d explain my grade a little bit, in a hopefully less-incendiary, more policy-based, space. (Facebook walls can be brutal when you have lots of friends who are conservatives, and lots who are progressives!)
Overall, I think Obama is doing a great job in overall leadership & visionary categories. He came down to earth a bit in progressives’ hearts & minds with his cabinet choices – they seemed rather Clintonian. Like many Slow Food enthusiasts, I was initially disappointed in his Ag Secretary choice, Tom Vilsack, but I have hope that he might be different on organic/local food policy than his predecessors & former Monsanto cronies. (Though I am disappointed in his pro-ethanol stance)
That said, Obama’s charting his own course with sweeping reform & the stimulus package. I have a lot of empathy with him on the stimulus package, as it’s almost a lose-lose proposal – conservatives shriek socialism, and actual socialists, labor movement folks, and other progressives fret about it being pro-big-corporations. I can understand both fears, but lets face it: in the wake of the previous administrations’ war-debt fest, what’s left to do?
The Stimulus Plan, like the New Deal, is ambitious, flawed, & probably will work. I also appreciate Obama’s presence in global relations & his reconciling tone – it’s not cowardice to be friendly with former & current national ‘enemies;’ one might even say it’s a Christian virtue of quiet strength. Oh, and I LOVE that the Obamas have a pesticide-free garden on the White House lawn. It’s only symbolic, but symbols are important – we desperately need a food system overhaul in America. Oh, and I applaud the administration for setting an Iraq withdrawal, better ecological standards, and working on a light rail.
Now for what I don’t like: While I appreciate the pragmatism (& believe the good intentions) of the abortion-reduction strategy, many of Obama’s moves have been huge concessions to the pro-choice camp, even when they’ve been (in my opinion) politically unnecessary – like with embryonic stem cell research. Even Al Gore is now pointing to the viability of skin stem cells for the same breakthroughs that embryonics promised. I think this is an opportunity for the new administration to step up to the post-partisan plate.
Secondly, I’m just not sure overall if Obama’s going to make good on his promises to reverse harmful Bush administration trends toward less transparency and greater executive power – his policies on rendition, wire tapping, etc., are pretty fuzzy. I wish the new Congress would just repeal the Patriot Act.
Finally, while I think that Obama’s a kinder & gentler hawk than the Bush-Cheney crew, he’s still hawkish. I wish he’d seriously consider nonviolent alternatives to full-scale war in Afghanistan. (See Rethinking Afghanistan)
So that’s it. Here are some websites, from progressive *and* Libertarian sources, that outline some of my praises/concerns: