WASHINGTON – President Obama is a much wiser man as he starts his second year in office.
When he arrived at the White House, Obama inherited an insurmountable legacy of a deep recession and two wars in the Middle East. These are issues hardly adaptable to instant solutions for an impatient public.
He was flying high as a presidential candidate offering “change” from the heavy hand of conservatives empowered from the days of Ronald Reagan, who had turned the country to the right.
Since those halcyon inaugural days the president surely has learned that there is no such thing as bipartisanship. The Republicans in Congress have formed a solid wall of opposition to all of his first year initiatives, especially universal health care.
The plan to provide affordable medical security for millions is now in great jeopardy with the surprising victory of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown in the special election for the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Brown has vowed to vote against the health care bill when he takes his Senate seat. His election also means that Senate Republicans now will have 41 votes, enough to block any effort to end filibusters.
Obama also has learned that party loyalty is not a high priority among some Senate Democrats, including Evan Bayh of Indiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.Congressional Democrats are worried about the November mid-term elections in the aftermath of Brown’s victory and Republican wins in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey.The trend portends bad news for other reforms that Obama hopes to make in the financial world. Other progressive plans for energy, education and global warming may be blocked by supporters of the status quo.
But not to worry, the president will have all the Republican backing he needs to pursue a hard line foreign policy and possible military interventions in Pakistan, Yemen and Iran.
As for his first-year performance, Obama gives himself a B-plus. That seems about right to me.
On the plus side, Obama has introduced the world to a more caring U.S. image, compared to his predecessor who violated international law against torture.
Obama also gave a hand to the beleaguered auto industry in hard-hit Detroit and other parts of the Midwest.
He pushed through Congress the child health program that the Bush administration had rejected.
He also was successful with some of his social agenda, including unemployment benefits.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama has “an awful lot to be proud of.”
The chief executive also rose to the occasion with an immediate humanitarian response to the earthquake catastrophe in Haiti.Gibbs acknowledges some missteps by the White House and said “nobody believes you can pitch a perfect game.”
Obama has disappointed members of the liberal wing of his party. And he has yet to fulfill the promise of more openness in government.Gibbs said the president’s top priority during the year is “to get the economy back on track, and ”creating jobs will be a top priority.”My suggestion as he starts his second year in the White House: Get tough. Learn to fight back against political foes.
(c) 2010 Hearst Newspapers