He is a silver-tongued orator who seldom delivers on his oratory. He is too timid and too prone to rookie stumbles.
He has disappointed centrists, deceived liberals and betrayed leftists. He promised the “audacity of hope,” “fundamental change” and a “transformative” presidency. Yet he has left much of the nation unhappy, full of disillusionment and ever more cynical about politics.
Obama is like the river Platte in Nebraska: a mile wide and an inch deep, as 19th century humorist Artemus Ward put it.
Look at Obama’s failures:
• He is worried about the enormous budget deficit, yet continues to fight two and one-half unnecessary and costly wars. Obama is surging in Afghanistan and “staying the course” in Iraq. In the half-war, U.S. drones are bombing Pakistani civilians.
He maintains an unnecessary and costly worldwide war machine. He has 20,000 troops in Okinawa and 70,000 in Germany. Why? And yet Obama gets a Nobel Peace Prize. As Alice cried in Wonderland: “Curiouser and curiouser!”
• The Senate labored for eight months on a health bill but didn’t even bring forth a mouse. Obama gave up the fight at the outset, selling out to Big Pharma and Big Insurance. He ensured that America continues to have the most expensive health care system in the world. He never insisted on a public option and meekly acquiesced to an abortion restriction.
Obama has never gone to the mat for national health — a human right, an ethical right. Meanwhile, the Senate guarantees that the richest nation on earth will never have universal health care that every other industrialized nation has.
• Obama in his State of the Union address Wednesday got around to expressing concerns about jobs and the economy. This was long after the banks, “too big to fail,” were bailed out. Voters got justly furious when bank CEOs were then showered with money. In other words, bankers first, the people last.
• Obama promised transparency and accountability but is as secretive as Bush II. Obama refused to allow release of photos showing abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama claims release would endanger national security, the hoariest ruse to cover up embarrassment.
He still has not explicitly prohibited “extraordinary rendition.” Contrary to his speechifying, we are like other totalitarian nations.
• The president promised to close Guantánamo. It’s still open. The U.S. prison at Bagram in Afghanistan is open, too. Both bases violate the Fifth and 14th Amendment rights of prisoners.
• On global warming, the Obama administration at Copenhagen dissed the widespread call for emissions reductions. But Obama is finally getting “religion,” urging Friday that the federal government cut emission standards by 28 percent in the next decade.
• He wastes time attempting bipartisanship with the Republicans who obstruct anything worthwhile. He is a far cry from FDR who welcomed the hatred of obstructionists and denounced “economic royalists.”
• Obama has done nothing to push union card-signing, which labor desperately needs. He does, however, get cheers for hollow applause lines at union gatherings.
• Obama promised a “new beginning” in Latin America. Cuba? Oh, that’s different. The cruel U.S. embargo is still in place, condemned often by the United Nations with the opposition only of America, Israel and mighty Palau. The United States is the only nation in the Western Hemisphere that does not have diplomatic relations with Cuba.
• Just lately Obama has been urging abolishment of the baleful Pentagon policy of don’t ask-don’t tell after long cowering on the issue.
• Obama is a reluctant tiger on another pressing social issue: gay marriage.
• He wrongly supports the death penalty for child rapists. He wrongly favors the Supreme Court’s reactionary interpretation of the Second Amendment.
• Obama, despite his protestations about Mideast peace, lets Israel get away with outrage after outrage. The most recent example: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited two Jewish settlements in the West Bank and proclaimed, “This place will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel for eternity.”
Israel is a rogue nation — and a racist one to boot. But Obama doesn’t have the will or the fortitude to face the wrath of the all-powerful Jewish lobby.
It is true that the president proposes and the Congress disposes. Nevertheless, it is clear Obama is all head and no backbone. He needs a spinal injection of courage fluid.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at email@example.com.