Saturday, January 23, 2010

The fizzling Obama brand

One year ago this week, on a very cold Jan. 20, 2009, I, along with more than a million Americans, went to downtown Washington, D.C., to witness a historic day. That day, Barack Hussein Obama came to the helm of the United States as the first black president in American history.
I was there on the Washington Mall first as a journalist, to see the excitement of the people, many of who were black and there to be proud eyewitnesses to a post-racial America. And second, as someone who had closely followed this young president while he was a candidate during the campaigning years, someone who saw the inspiration he gave and the expectations he created and wanted to be there to share that experience.
After eight years of the Bush presidency, with a worsening image and credibility in a world filled with wars and arrogance, and amid once-in-a-lifetime economic crises, Obama was promising to the whole American nation to get back on a right track to lead the world, maybe in a different fashion this time.
Now, after one full year, it can be easily argued that Obama has failed to meet the expectations he created and fulfill the promises he made. The day before Obama’s first anniversary, another heavy blow came from the Massachusetts Senate race. The Senate seat that had been represented by Ted Kennedy for 47 years until he lost his life due to a brain tumor was taken by Scott Brown, a Republican challenger unknown until recently in one of the bluest states in America.
The event quickly became a phenomenon that seems to have changed all the political calculations in Washington, from domestic to foreign ones. What has so far come to be called a “Massachusetts miracle” has many implications to dwell on. First of all, this heavy election blow came right about the time that everybody expected the Obama White House to celebrate its first anniversary. Instead, after this political earthquake, and with many other domestic and foreign initiatives seemingly stalled, the Obama team saw no reason to celebrate its “historic anniversary.”
Even worse news from this election loss for the Obama White House was the main theme of the newly elected senator’s election campaign. Soon to be a sitting senator, Brown ran a campaign mainly in opposition to the healthcare reform that is still in the U.S. Congress, waiting to be compromised by both sides of the aisle. Therefore Obama is now in a position where he can neither ignore the election results and push ahead for compromise, nor withdraw his priority domestic reform that has been in the works for months.
While the Obama administration is already under heavy attack by the media and opposition for being slow to tackle unemployment and other urgent economic issues, and instead focusing on the healthcare overhaul, lately these attacks have become increasingly personal, directed at Obama’s personality and casting doubts on his working capability.
The pundits who have became so brutal when criticizing Obama and his policies nowadays once enthusiastically applauded everything he said during the campaign years. And in that sense, when looking at the last year, Obama truly looks like a joke these days, with the policies he has pursued being tested by tough questions.
With the legendary Ted Kennedy’s “safe” Massachusetts seat down, even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada seat is shaky before the upcoming November elections, as is the Illinois seat abandoned by Obama when he moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Actually, after a powerful political earthquake such as the one that happened in Massachusetts, sending waves through the capital, none of the Democrat members in the House who are up for re-election can feel safe and sound now.
According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC polls, American voters nationwide are evenly split over which party they hope will run Capitol Hill after the November elections – the first time Democrats haven’t had the edge on that question since December 2003.
In the same polls, just 22 percent said that they were “optimistic and confident” about Obama’s presidency – a 10-point decline from a year ago. The numbers reflect the stubborn economic slump, in which joblessness stands at 10 percent and many Americans are angry about government bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry. This anger has especially made a difference with the independents, who now, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, say they would prefer to see Republicans control Congress after the November elections.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently wrote that he is “pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.” The Obama brand, which once represented visionary leadership and a reason to be hopeful for the future, is now about to bust. One wonders who will be crushed and left underfoot after such a catastrophic turn of events.


Guest - kwell (2010-01-23 00:39:30) :

obama is not dead yet.. he is just starting 

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