HURRIYET DAILY NEWS
A brutal autumn session opens the curtains. Obama's honeymoon now officially ends with the trembling approval ratings after the congressional August recess. The time for speeches is affirmatively over. No more promises of some vague ideas of hope will work. No more consensus seeking or building will be looked for. Trying to satisfy both sides of the aisle is not possible. In the foreign policy arena, "listening,” not dictating or not threatening, will not get one anywhere. America, in trying to retain its super role in the world affairs, has to do all of the above, if it has not started already.
The crunchy September opened with the health care debate in Washington, D.C., and the Iran show-down in the foreign policy arena. President Obama will give a speech to the Joint Sessions of the U.S. Congress Wednesday, to give it a last chance for the spirit of bipartisanship for health care reform. As one should know, the president of the United States does not talk to the Joint Sessions directly on every occasion. On the contrary, he rarely takes the stage to meet with both Chambers of U.S. Congress. There needs to be some kind of important matter, a very important one for that matter, for a U.S. president to gather together all the members of Congress and speak to them frankly about the lingering vital problem, as if talking through the public podium was not enough. On this occasion, the president will be addressing the U.S. Congress to make sure that there shall not be any excuse for its members not to take the course on that very specific matter, that is the health care reform, that the president laid out to them. If the legislators under the dome of the Capitol, especially the Democrats who currently dominate both houses, do not conform to the president's agenda, there will be consequences for them in coming times, the speech will have told them in essence.
On the other hand, the members of the Congress who oppose this gigantic change of the appreciable part of the American capitalistic system have to decide on this matter once and for all. They have to adjust their behavior now and, if this is really a historic time, it will be remembered by future generations as a start of a new America for better or worse. Will the young, inexperienced and different president do everything in his disposal for the spirit of the American people, who have experienced the exceptionalism for the last century, to continue to play this unique role at any cost? Or does he know that if the American spirit retires from its claim of exceptionalism of the world, will America not be the America as we have known it up to now.
In foreign affairs, the deadline given to Iran till Sept. 24, 2009, to accept negotiations over its nuclear program is getting closer and closer. Iran's supreme leader Khamenei and his imposed president Ahmadinejad seem to have won the first leg of the post election episode, which was not surprising. However, with this unexpected early imposition of deadline on Iran, the Iranian people may not have any other option but to rally behind their leaders against the whole evil world, when the deadline arrives and Iranian leaders don't comply. It is also certain that Beijing and Moscow will look for reasons to soften tougher sanctions on Iran that Obama may try to get the U.N. to impose. In this looming new Iranian episode, any action or inaction of Obama also will reveal his caliber of performance time.
On the economic front, Obama has to come up with some kind of a tangible plan to tell his fellow Americans and other lenders around the globe that he indeed will balance his country's budget. Nowadays, there are so many “end of America” articles and “America is crumbling” documentaries out there that even the average Americans consider this as a top issue, while they cannot even budget their own purse yet. Obama has many solutions for many problems of America, and this specialty and smartness of his is the one of the biggest reasons that brought him to where he is now. However, oddly enough, one issue that he was able to restrain himself from has been writing a recipe for the huge debt which is "now more than Americans are worth – and the gap is growing."
The Middle East peace process, on the other hand, is where Obama has been trying to do everything he can to start some kind of peace process. The cold shower came on Saturday, Sept. 5, when the British Times Online reported that the Israeli side has no plans at all to freeze the much discussed settlements. According to these reports, Israel plans to authorize the construction of hundreds of houses in the occupied West Bank soon. In his answer, the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs stated his regrets over this decision. Gibbs continued to say that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and urges it to stop," period.
Obama's democratic followers, who never really had hope for bipartisanship at the beginning anyway, now want their president to lead, since it is proved that the Republicans do not want any compromise either for bipartisanship. The leftists do not like to see their president following most of the "War on Terror" policies of the past. Neither are they happy with his continuous funding of the wars with the same secretary of defense of the past, which is akin to the withdrawal timetable for Iraq that was prepared beforehand, or is comparable to the “surge” policy that was first applied in Iraq and is now being applied in Afghanistan by building the U.S. Embassy compound, which is like the one that was built in Baghdad with an annual budget of $1.5 billion. And of course, the country's economy will be operated by the same Fed chief of the past. This list of the “same” items can go on, but the reader will get the idea.
Obama, after two years of campaigning and seven-and-half months of a campaigning mode of a new kind of a presidency, now will be measured by his deeds, with many of the critical matters that he has to deal with in coming months immediately, probably for the first time in his political life. Now Obama has to do some of his much promised “change” agenda, or else he will be abandoned slowly. Yes, the honeymoon is over. I, for one, will follow this show-time very closely, every day and every hour.