LatinaLista — Everywhere we turn in the media today, there are three stories that are dominating the headlines: Rightfully, the Haiti earthquake and the ongoing rescue efforts; Naturally, the Republican victory and what this means for healthcare reform and; Amazingly, a report card review of Obama’s first year in office.
As part of a demographic who never adhered to party loyalty but based votes more on the individual, I find it unfair to evaluate this man’s first year in office since he had to hit the floor running before he even took the presidential oath, unlike any other U.S. president in recent history.
Obama assumed a presidency weighed down with collateral damage, something his critics, and most Republican pundits, have conveniently forgotten.
Over the weekend, on Meet the Press‘ roundtable discussion, it was laughable how Karen Hughes, a former counselor and senior advisor to President George Bush, refused to acknowledge that the challenges Obama faced when coming into office had anything to do with her former boss.
When one of her roundtable colleagues used the word “inherited” to refer to the challenges Obama faced, Hughes retorted in part:
Every president inherits challenges. President Bush inherited a recession when, when he took office. I think the, the, the first year has been very disappointing, and the reason is that, that President Obama has not governed as he campaigned.
A recession is a far cry from a global financial downfall and everyone in this country knew that what awaited Obama was not going to be easy. Yet, impatience has a way to make people forget and provides perfect cover for those critics who want nothing more to do than ridicule a guy to make him seem inept.
There are some things we need to remember.
When Obama took office, the rest of the world had felt alienated from the United States. Obama had to work, though not that hard, to re-establish those bonds of friendship/cooperation that are necessary in a global economy.
It was obvious that just the ouster of the Bush administration was enough to bring relief to our allies. That they felt strongly enough to award Obama the Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing more than inspiring hope speaks volumes for how much disdain the rest of the world had felt towards the United States.
When Obama took office, the level of secrecy in the White House and the open repulsion the president and his staff never hid towards the media wasn’t just painful to watch for people who believe in an open government, but deeply disturbing.
There was no transparency, no accountability and evasiveness at every turn. Suddenly, certain media outlets were labeled as “liberal,” for asking hard questions, deemed invasive by the White House. It was an era where the distinct impression left was that the Bush White House answered to no one, since it was all under the guise of “national security.”
Maybe because it’s a more tech-savvy staff, the Obama administration has brought back transparency, accountability and answering the hard questions. There are still accusations of this administration for not fulfilling those expectations entirely but compared to the Bush years, it’s a difference between night and day.
One has only to visit the web site of the White House (WH). This administration posts every press release issued by the WH, what the President, Vice-President, First Lady and Mrs. Biden’s agendas are, the text of every set of remarks, no matter their significance, and there’s even a blog written by staff reiterating what’s happening in the White House.
When Obama took office, the challenges he faced were nothing that could be readily fixed — the financial bailout, the economy, unemployment, etc. Anyone who seriously thought or believed that things could be fixed in one day, one month, or even one year was practicing the most extreme form of self-delusion.
Couple that with the notion that anyone would know with certainty what would work in this never-before-seen-situation, and work well enough to return our economy to a healthy standing is, again, delusional. Ideas are proposed, thought out, and with fingers crossed, implemented.
It’s what we all practice on a smaller scale within our own families/businesses/clubs when situations arise. To think it can be any different in Washington, where the situation is on a much larger scale and there’s a good number of people involved who don’t want success because failure raises them up, makes the idea that it would be easy to turn all these challenges into accomplishments in a short time is again delusional on our part.
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama, in reflecting on Brown’s win in Massachusetts, said that he lost a direct connection to the American people.
He feels he spent too much time on creating policies.
Yet, that’s what was needed. Most everyone who doesn’t have healthcare insurance or sees a parent or grandparent struggling to get by with buying a fair amount of medication on a limited budget or sees people paying over-the-top premiums or just being denied insurance for having pre-existing conditions or…doesn’t have the patience to wait around for policy changes or bills to be passed, especially when it takes longer because it’s a political issue that divides straight down the line between the Have’s and the Have Nots.
However, without those policy changes, change cannot come. In our impatience, we have forgotten that.
In fact, because of our impatience we have forgotten a lot of things, but most importantly, we have forgotten just how we got to this stage in our history; how long it took to get us here; and what it will take to get us out when we have to deal with a changing economy, natural disasters and a political party that has gone on record as allying itself with lobbyists who oppose reform measures of any kind.
There are still pressing issues to deal with, like immigration reform. It will be as explosive, if not more so, than healthcare but it’s an issue that won’t go away and for the sake of the people involved needs to be rectified.
When Obama took office, no other president in history had as many imperative issues facing him as he did or partisan opposition. That he has to get two parties to agree, who are more diametrically opposed to one another than ever before, does not make this job easy or fast.
In my book, it’s unfair to only ask how has Obama done this first year in office. It’s more fair to ask “How did Obama, Congress and the American people do in working together this first year?”
After all, we’re all in this together.