Barack Obama came into office on the winds of change and with an enthusiasm of hope. While traditionally most new presidents are given a 100-day "honeymoon," Mr. Obama was not granted that luxury because America has not been granted that luxury. Challenging times demand excellence from the start. As such, he's come under a far more critical microscope than most presidents have been allowed upon their inauguration.
The result is that, for all that has been done and still-high popularity, not everything has gone well. There have been gaffes, stumbles even. Indeed, there have at times been issues that even his greatest supporters criticize.
No president is immune from rebuke. To be fair, therefore, beyond the initial praise and optimism, one must also look at the flaws of a new president. And to be fair - since no one lives in a vacuum - one should compare those flaws to other presidents, to best understand the fullest perspective. And the most fair comparison, of course, is when conditions are as equal as possible, which is why it's often best to make that comparison with a president's immediate predecessor, in this case former President George W. Bush.
So, let's do that, shall we?
Of course, Mr. Bush had eight years in office, while Mr. Obama is still in the weeks. But we can only deal with the reality we have.
Here then are the Top 10 criticisms that thus far have been leveled against President Barack Obama, some by his adversaries, others by his supporters, several by both.
1. Didn't stop bailout money from being used as huge bonuses by failed companies.
2. Pushed through massive $787 billion spending bailout that risks nationalizing banks, as opposed to making just greater tax cuts
3. Announced troop withdrawals in a slower timetable than he said he'd hoped to during the election campaign.
4. Offered a budget of deficit spending to bolster the economy, rather than continue the tax cuts that created the deficit.
5. Nominated several members for his cabinet who later had to withdraw.
6. With much-more pressing concerns, did interviews on the comedy-variety "Tonight Show," Univision's Latin music awards, as well as "60 Minutes," and presented his NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN.
7. Uses a teleprompter far too often, even when delivering small announcements, creating a less spontaneous and more distant demeanor.
8. Has spread himself too thin, dealing with the Iraq War, health care, global warming and stem cell research, rather than only the economy.
9. Made an awkward joke about the Special Olympics at his own expense, and laughed with self-described "gallows humor" at the bleak corner he was painted in having to make unpopular bailouts.
10. Hasn't turned around America's greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression in his first 10 weeks in office.
Your list might vary, of course. However, to anyone looking at Barack Obama through rose-colored glasses, it is an eye-opening catalog of flaws. Hardly the portrait of a man many had come to believe could do no wrong.
Compare it next to the Top Ten criticisms of the presidency of George Bush.
Your list might vary.
1. Lied about the existence of WMDs, which got the United States involved in a war that has cost 4,200 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and is estimated to finally cost three trillion dollars.
2. Sanctioned torture, and illegally wiretapped private American citizens without warrants.
3. Ignored warnings of Hurricane Katrina, taking days to deal with the disaster as New Orleans got wiped from the map, ultimately underfunding its recovery.
4. Started office with a $128 billion budget surplus and left with a $1.3 trillion deficit.
5. Politicized the impartial Justice Department, hiring and firing U.S. Attorneys based solely on political beliefs and pursuing cases for political retribution.
6. Ignored warnings of an impending attack by Osama bin Laden, prior to America being attacked, ultimately costing 3,000 lives.
7. Politicized science by having political appointees rewrite the findings of scientific reports, and regularly diminishing that branch of knowledge, most notably global warming and stem cell research.
8. Underfunded education. Underfunded environmental protections. Underfunded national port security - and attempted to sell off port management to the government of Dubai.
9. Removed regulatory banking protections and oversaw the collapse of the United States economic system.
10. Took the near-total world support for America following 9/11 and ultimately destroyed all that goodwill, making the nation a pariah in much of the world's eyes.
In the end, it's so easy to see why Republican cries of outrage and their 172-0 votes against the early Obama administration are not only more than justified, but are serious, honest concerns by those nobly willing to stand-up and voice protest whenever they see a wrong, no matter what it may be.
Democrats, of course, have never had a problem criticizing anyone, including themselves. Indeed, eating their own is a fine tradition of the Democratic Party. Sometimes it's justified, sometimes it's not. But challenging one's own is what keeps a party and a nation vibrant. It is a lesson Republicans have never seemed to learn. If they did, we not only might not be dealing with most of these horrific problems today - we might not even be dealing with a Democratic president.
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