Archive for April, 2011

04
Apr
11

Obama is Learning the Difference Between Being a Good Politician and Being a Good President

Some people may recall George Bush senior’s famous campaign promise in 1988 when he said: “Read my lips, No New Taxes!” A promise made famous by the fact that he didn’t keep it. Facing record budget deficits in 1991 ( deficits we’d love to have now, by the way) George Bush broke his promise and raised taxes. His critics, particularly Rush Limbaugh who had his own t.v. show at the time hammered him relentlessly for the gaff, and may have started the wedge that grew between him and conservative voters, many of who turned to Ross Perot in 1992, causing George Bush to lose re-election. But I would say that George Bush Sr. did the right thing. In 1992 there was no Republican congress to cut spending, like their would be in 94, and if Americans were truly concerned about the debt, and polls show they were, the only responsible choice was a modest tax increase. George Bush did the right thing, but it cost him his base, and re-election.

I can’t say whether Obama’s policies will cost him his base or re-election. I don’t see a liberal Ross Perot on the horizon so he may be in luck, but I can say Obama’s recent decisions have put him at odds with his base and are costing him in the polls. Two years into his presidency Obama has not only not left Afghanistan, he has increased our presence there. Earlier this year Obama announced he would not me closing Guantanamo Bay, despite a campaign promise to do so, and just recently Obama has gotten us into another war, this time in Libya. Finally, just this weekend Obama announced that Eric Holder and civilian courts will not be trying Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, and the 9-11 conspirators. They will be tried by Military Tribunals at Guantanamo, something Holder and Obama hammered the Bush administration for during most of last year.

All of these decisions, whether you agree with them or not, are decisions at odds with Obama’s liberal base, and in some cases a direct turnaround from where Obama claimed to be on these issues. Some on the left, and on the right will call Obama a liar, or a flip-flopper, but nothing could be further from the truth. What Obama is doing is the right thing, and this is what being a good president is all about.

It was stupid for Obama to announce a time-table for withdrawl from Iraq when he campaigned and it was stupid of him to campaign on closing Guantanamo Bay. The reason both of these decisions were stupid is that candidate Obama could not have known how world affairs would play out once he was president, and he could not have known what intelligence would say on the matter. Once President Obama now has access to information he didn’t have before and he can now make better, more informed decisions about the best course of action to keep this country safe. This is why Obama never should have made campaing promises regarding foreign policy in the first place.

What Obama has found out is that fighting in places like Afghanistan and Lybia not only helps in the ongoing struggle to contain terrorism, but also protects valuable oil production and aids our allies in Europe. You can agree or disagree with Obama’s decisions and agenda, but it is certain that having looked more closely, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President has realized that sometimes war, although unpopular is necessary. Obama has also learned that Guantanamo Bay, as much as it is hated by the left, is a valuable resource for controlling terrorism, and one that can not so easily be discarded. Without Guantanamo, Obama would have had to find another holding cell for international terrorists, probably one directly on civilian soil, and he would have to risk trying suspected terrorists not under military rule, but under constitutionally protected civilian rule. If terrorists escaped or got off, Obama would be responsible for this, and so he wisely changed his mind.

I do not agree with much of Obama’s agenda, and I think he could be tougher on foreign policy, but his actions so far are indicative of a President who is not afraid to take on his base and do what he thinks is right for the country whether it is politically popular or not. No matter what you think of the president this can only be a good sign for American leadership.

Obama is learning the difference between being a good candidate and being a good President. I for one hope he always remembers which job is the truly important one.

Sincerely,

Jack B.