I recently received a call from my friend Phil Hoover who asked why I had not yet commented on the Obama presidency. I said I just had not had the time. He suggested I write shorter pieces. I’m not certain I can, but I’ll try.
In November I made several predictions about an Obama presidency. So far I was fairly on target. The following seem relevant to his efforts so far.
“Prediction #1: The transition will be nearly flawless. The fly in the ointment might be if Obama is perceived as acting as if he is already President especially in international economic affairs. Obama’s appointments will be diverse representatives of the sectors that elected him with more than one moderate Republicans in high positions. He will get off to a good start.”
I hit this nail on the head. His transition was nearly flawless. He took great care not to comment on international relations, frequently commenting on the fact that we only have one President at the time. On the other hand, on the economic crises he worked with Congress as if he was already President. The situation may have dictated his proactive involvement, but let us not ignore the fact he work with Congress on the formation of legislation as though he was already President. And in today’s economy that has everything to do with international relations.
“Prediction #2: Obama will keep many of his promises. With the support of a Democratically controlled congress, he will claim a mandate to push through his agenda. There will be a flurry of passed legislation. At the front will be commitments to energy and the environment. …”
He has hit the ground running with a focus on keeping his promises. He has apponinted several Republicans to high level positions. He has had extensive communicaton with the Republicans in Congress in an apparent effort to be bipartisan but he has reminded them that he won the election. I will not review all of his kept promises but a couple stand out. First, I applaud his quick actions on the environment especially raising the auto gas standards. I also approve of his push to allow states to set their own standards. As a conservative, I favor keeping government as responsive to the people as possible, i.e, a smaller federal government.
Second, while I didn’t include it on my list, elsewhere I predicted he would keep his promise and issue a Presidential order releasing American tax dollars to international groups to promote and pay for abortions in other countries, which he has done. I hold everyone who voted for Obama accountable for the resulting infanticide. Those who voted for him knew he had made this promise; their vote implicitly endorsed this action. I recognize this is a strong statement, but my statement pales in comparison to the impact of this action on the unborn and on their mothers. In many of the countries where these funds will be released it will not be the woman who makes the decision about aborting her unborn child. Time will tell if Obama’s other actions for good (there will be many) might mitigate against the impact of this evil. Perhaps he will be an instrument for life in other areas.
“Prediction #8: President Obama will excel in international relations except Islamic nations, Russia, and Latin America (which will be put off by his protectionism). In short, he will be phenomenal with our Western Allies and most of Africa; he will be less than stellar with our enemies, especially Islamic nations. This will seem strange to many given his unique connection with Islam. I truly hope I am wrong on this. He has the best personal gifts for diplomacy that I have seen in a political leader. (My problem is not his ability, but his direction.)”
It was a bold stroke to grant his first post-inauguration interview with an international, Islamic journalist. This was a significant preemptive diplomatic action. The appointment of Senator Mitchell as envoy to the Middle East was another wise action in his early days in office. On the other hand, his approval of continued military air strikes inside Pakistan (Prediction #10) suggests I might in the end be right on this one. He has not yet been tested with a crisis in the region to which he must respond.
Another promise he has kept is to initiate stricter ethics standards for his administration. It is to be applauded that he has forbidden the revolving door between lobbyist and administrative service. It is baffling that he would immediately nominate someone for high office for whom he must immediately issue a waiver to the standards he had just announced with fanfare. His pragmatic nature shines through.
On a parallel note I was apparently correct with “Prediction #12: The roll of minorities in American politics has been forever changed for the good. The days of the Caucasian, good-old-boys-club-in-power is over. Minorities will rise in leadership in both parties but especially conservatives in the Republican Party. – Perhaps some delusional wishful thinking here. The Parties will become more ideologically defined and stress ethnic coalitions with a greater social purpose.” This week the Republican National Committee elected its first African American as chairman of the committee. Perceived as a moderate, he has a huge job set before him. Let us hope him well.
Well, these are a few of my initial thoughts. Others will follow.