Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The First 6 1/2 Months

Last week, President Obama held a press conference to announce that ecomonic growth is moving faster than previously expected. While we're not quite out of the recession just yet, it was a minor highlight in what has been an otherwise hit-and-miss first six months for the Obama administration. Though his approval rating might be just below 60%, it's not necessarily nose-diving. While the first 100 days might set the tone for an administration, it's not an indicator of where a president's public support will be in six months, much less a year down the road. (for more number-crunching, check out this article from RealClearPolitics.) Considering my reputation for just-left-of-center political posturing, one might wonder what my thoughts are toward President Obama at this point in time. Well...

With the Dow Jones back in the 9000s and unemployment holding steady --not rising, not shrinking, just there-- it seems that the worst aspects of the recession are behind us. Even so, I'll admit that Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package is off to a slow start. I guess the confusion begins at the speed of which the money is spent; it'd be foolish to spend it all in the matter of a year, though the rate at which the $787 billion is actually being spent keeps accelerating. I haven't a clue as to how much the economy really has been affected by the stimulus, though if it really is skimming over unrelated policy goals, it won't be the monsterous long-term debt that most conservatives have feared.

On a related note, and I say this with great trepidation, I don't think the president's attempts at health care reform are going to pull through; not because of the expense, but because of Obama's inattentiveness towards the small details. In other words, how universal is universal health care? Will surplus money really go towards lowering the costs of medicine? He's not aggressively pushing the fix, yet strangely reluctant to compromise, which has resulted in bickering between moderate Democrats and the party core. The moderates and conservatives are obstructing reform, and while I don't necessarily blame them, their greatest nitpick seems to be the price tag and not in the outline. Health care reform is not hopeless, though it may appear that way; what isn't repaired now will have ramifications for years to come, no matter how flawed Obama's proposal might be.

Sadly, I can't avoid the subject of race. Before Obama took office, I'd hoped that this topic would be largely avoided, but both sides of the political spectrum keep dragging it out for a debate that nobody wants to join in. The Skip Gates controversy should be water under the bridge by now, and I'm not convinced that Sonia Sotomayor is any more racist than Antonin Scalia. Unfortnately, there's a stereotypical public perception that the majority of America's black population gravitiates towards socialism and that Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are leading the movement. That's pure ignorance for a variety of reasons. One of the smartest things Obama has done, however is keeping Jackson and Sharpton's influence to a minimum; he's still playing to the center and they'd just be far-left deadweight. These three man are community leaders, but they are not the faces of Black America.

A red-blooded conservative will look at this and think I'm an Obama apologist, but I'm not writing this to paint a rosy picture. With power comes responsibility, and responsibility begats risk. That was probably the hardest-fought lesson I learned from the Bush administration, the only difference is Bush seemed far more content working by himself and doing things his way, regardless of what the GOP core had in mind. There's no question that the policies that President Obama has put into effect these past few months have been drastic and polarizing, but I'm still guardedly optimistic that there will be long-term benefits. Rome wasn't built in a day, and America won't be rebuilt overnight.

Other notes:

+ If I still had my black '98 Taurus, I'm pretty sure it'd be eligible for that "cash for clunkers" program.

+ The weekend before last, I completed and passed Improv Level A at Second City. I start Level B this coming Sunday.

+ My Royals did next to nothing at the trade deadline, picking up a utility outfielder from Detroit for cash considerations. I don't think .500 is feasible at this point, but 75 wins is not out of reach.

+ I started up a fantasy football league over at Yahoo just for TV.com members. If you're interested, PM me as soon as possible.

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