In the interest of heading off the accusations that I’m an Obama Acolyte, I’m going to give you direct links to some of the thousands of words I have written criticizing President Barack Obama.
5 People and Groups That Are Killing Dr. King’s Dream (Obama’s #1 on this list)
Those are just five of the most recent examples of my taking Obama to task for his policies and actions while in office. They’re all fairly recent, and they all got my “liberal” card called into question by some of my left-wing readers. I bring these instances of my critique of the president up because over the weekend I posted a short list on our Facebook page entitled “List of Bush Messes Cleaned Up By Obama.” The list, I thought, was fairly simple and contained just four items that President George W. Bush left in his wake for future administrations to clean up.
The final line in the post was “Or as Tea Partiers call it: Obama is the worst president ever.” I thought this was a fairly accurate assessment of the criticisms that the Tea Party has of President Obama. They aren’t based in any kind of reality, common sense, or historical perspectives. I decided after reading some of the comments from Tea Partiers and Obama demagogues to make the list a bit more in-depth and give some reasoning behind them, since apparently there’s still some confusion as to the meanings of “cleaned-up” as opposed to “fixed” as well as some confusion as to why the Iraq War was Bush’s mess, so that’s what this thing is all about, just a little clarification for those who clearly need it.
1. The United States’ economy
This one probably got the most negative feedback, even from other liberals. Apparently some people thought I meant “Woo hoo! Our economy is roaring! Unemployment is 1%, the stock market has grown so large that dividends are being handed out to homeless people for them to start buying homes with, and it’s raining apple pie and puppy kisses!” When I titled the list with the words “cleaned up,” that’s what I meant. Cleaned up.
It’s possible to clean up a mess and still not fix the underlying cause of the mess. For instance, if I drill a hole in a giant drum of Cream O’ Wheat and let it drip out all over my floor I have two problems to fix. One is the ensuing pool of instant hot cereal that will quickly start growing on my kitchen floor and the other is the hole that is continuously dripping Cream O’ Wheat.
It is undeniable fact that since taking office in 2009, Barack Obama has overseen an economic recovery. The simple truth is that our economy was hemorrhaging jobs at around a 750,000 per month clip when he was sworn in. That rate slowed and stopped and has turned upward, if ever so slightly. You can’t move the goal posts after decades of measuring unemployment the same way, so all the bleating about “actual unemployment numbers” can be tabled for now. Clearly no one should be happy with the unemployment rate as it stands, but if it’s right-wing austerity you’re looking for to fix that problem for you, take a gander at Ireland. Take a gander at any of the European nations that adopted austerity recently and see if their unemployment rates aren’t higher than ours.
Of course there’s still too much money at the top and not spread out to the working classes below. Of course the banks’ feet weren’t held close enough to the fire and “Too Big to Fail” is still a paradigm we deal with in this country. That doesn’t mean Obama didn’t stem the tide of the Bush Tax Cuts, and that he didn’t at least oversee the placing of the tourniquet over the rapidly bleeding out labor market, which is exactly what I meant by him cleaning up a mess Bush made and left for him.
2. The Iraq War
The most often used rejoinder to this one was essentially that all Obama did was hold fast to Bush’s time frame for ending the war. I can’t honestly argue against that, because that’s the truth. However, it isn’t exactly fair to phrase it in such a way, because let’s put it into some real historical perspective, shall we? For starters, when Obama took office pressure was coming from many sides to keep the Iraq War raging. Senator John McCain still to this day criticizes the decision to leave Iraq when we did. He called it a “strategic victory for our enemies” to leave Iraq. So make no mistake, had he won in 2008, we’d have still been in Iraq to this very day (granted we still are, but in much more limited capacity, but that’s a criticism to be leveled at the entire military industrial complex and yes, on Obama to a certain extent).
Now, onto the reasons that this was still Bush’s mess that Obama cleaned up. Here’s a hint: Iraq’s time table was set, but we knew years before we pulled out that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as we’d been told there were. We knew therefore very quickly that Iraq was a pointless waste of time, money and lives. Bush should have never taken us in, and cleaning up his own mess would have meant pulling out in in, oh I don’t know…2004? 2005? Then Obama would have played no role at all.
Bush could have also cleaned up his own mess by admitting he and his gaggle of NeoCon war mongers were wrong, wrong, wrong about Iraq either then or any time in the past four years since leaving office. Instead, they erected the Bush Library as a central hub for all the excuses and historical revision about the Iraq War to be housed in one location, digging their heels in and insisting the Iraq War was justified, and most certainly not the worst foreign policy decision since the Vietnam War.
Dubya didn’t mop anything up in Iraq. He left that to the next guy, both in terms of ending the war and in at least attempting to repair the damage done to our reputation in the international community.
3. Osama Bin Laden
This one is really cut and dry.
1. The entire purpose behind dragging the United States into a decade of warfare was to bring to justice the man behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden.
2. Not more than three years after the Afghanistan War was started, our priorities shifted from hunting down bin Laden to expanding the War on Terror to other regions. That’s when the Axis of Evil shit started and that’s when we started to gear up to go into Iraq.
3. Bush and Cheney are the ones who took our focus off bin Laden.
4. Barack Obama made hunting down Osama bin Laden the number one priority again upon his assumption of office.
5. Osama bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six operatives under orders from President Barack Obama.
Cut. Print. Check the gate.
4. Iran’s Nuclear Program
There is no doubt that the Iranian nuclear program — whether it was being used to build nukes and how close they were to completing them — was the hot button, international diplomatic issue of the last few years. Especially after bin Laden was killed, the focus shifted to Iran and whether their then-president would lead them into a nuclear age. The international community has been trying to find a peaceful way forward, since the cowboy in our own Oval Office had left the scene and all his heavy rhetoric went with him.
George W. Bush may not have given the Iranian government the idea to pursue nuclear weapon technologies, but he absolutely caused their further isolation and desperation after being pinned as part of the “Axis of Evil” that Bush/Cheney was hell bent on eradicating, ramming democracy down the throats of the unbaptized. In the wake of 9/11 Iran was actually trying to help us bring those responsible to justice, and even as we set upon Iraq, they were hoping to work with us.
Bush and Cheney threw all that progress under the buss when they labeled them as “evil” and Iran ramped-up their aggression by putting Ahmadinejad in power. Call this nuclear accord what you will, and by no means should the story be considered complete at this stage, but there is no doubt that the deal reached over this past weekend marks historical and significant progress in closing a dangerous chapter of international relations out, and that is precisely why you see the hawks in our country and in other places — *cough* Benjamin Netanyahu *cough* — blasting it as a “mistake.” Those would prefer mutually-assured annihilation to rational diplomacy have a lot to lose if it’s proven that talking things out has every bit a chance of working as blasting your “enemies” into the Rapture does.