Just where are we with Obama some 18 plus months into his presidency? Have we experienced the "change you can believe in?" In policy substance has there been a significant difference between him and his predecessor? Were our expectations of him too great, so thirsty our desire to see the Bush/Cheney ignoble reign end, that we became mesmerized by his eloquence, which obscured the timidity, lack of experience, intestinal fortitude and the indecisiveness?
When we look at the handling of some of the issues i.e. reform of health care, regulation of the financial industry, the war in Afghanistan, the use of drones into Pakistan, ending torture, indefinite detention of terrorist suspects, their trial and/or their release, job creation for the unemployed, stemming foreclosures and keeping people in their homes, handling of the Gulf oil ecological disaster, they do not draw high marks for leadership and competency.
Has it been squandered opportunities to make real change happen or was it just another hack politician in the oval office in over his head?
Health care reform, touted as a victory, is nothing more than expanding the control and dominance of the private health care industry behemoths with no public option to spur needed competition that could reduce skyrocketing costs and reduce wasteful administrative overhead that contributes nothing to people's health care.
Regulation of the financial industry, (again touted as a victory) not only doesn't hold accountable the institutions that precipitated and perpetrated the financial crisis that led directly to the present economic straits we are experiencing, but the tame regulatory measures enacted all but assures a new financial meltdown in the not too distant future.
The war in Afghanistan (and the undeclared war in Pakistan) has been ramped up, become more deadly not only for the innocent people of those countries but for the troops placed in harms way in an unwinnable, unnecessary endless war with a shifting rationale that went from removing al Qaeda (essentially accomplished)to now fighting an indigenous (and reenergized Afghan Taliban) while propping up a corrupt Karsai government that most Afghan people detest, hardly recognize as legitimate and have no allegiance to.
Meanwhile, the expanded use of drones in Pakistan supposedly targeting insurgent leaders but kill and maim more innocents (the infamous "collateral damage") that serves to create more insurgents bent on revenge and the desire to retaliate against us with expanded use of suicide attacks and roadside bombings using IED's (improvised explosive devices).
Guantanamo remains open with indefinite detention without charges and a trial continuing for most of those held there. Even detainees known to be innocent continue to languish and suffer, most unwanted even by their native countries, (their having been held so long and labeled and tainted as terrorists).
On the domestic front, unemployment officially remains in the 10% range while the unofficial numbers (part time workers who want full time work, those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and those who have given up looking for jobs) are closer to 20%.
Foreclosures continue to rise, now expanding to those who have lost their jobs, but who were previously responsible citizens, paid their bills on time and were credit worthy, now suddenly facing bankruptcy and destitution from no fault of their own.
The Gulf oil catastrophe may finally be stemmed (after three months of fits and starts, obfuscation and dissembling by BP to which the Obama administration initially dawdled but finally came to put the companies feet to the fire) but not before creating the worst ecological disaster this country has ever seen. Not only was BP and other oil companies deep water drilling plans expedited and approved but they were excused from meeting required ecological standards, first by the Bush administration, but allowed to continue under the Obama administration even when its top officials knew of the companies deficiencies in meeting the requirements but did nothing to stop it from continuing. So there is no exonerating the current Obama administrations culpability and contribution to this Gulf man made disaster.
So at this time the report card for Obama may read incomplete with two plus years remaining of his term in office.
But with November Congressional elections looming and the likely prospect of Democrat losses in both the House and the Senate (possibly even loss of majority control in one or both chambers), Obama's prospects for"success"change"reform"even reelection are questionable at best.
It just didn't have to be this way.