Saturday, August 3, 2013

Obama at 52: A Checkup

By Manifesto Joe

Granted, he's been a disappointment, but not a totally unexpected one. I confess to having voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, for one big reason.

Politics isn't a sport for amateurs. I tend to oppose term limits because D.C. is a league that's strictly for professionals. Going into that primary, Hillary had 15 years of Beltway experience, and certainly knew what to expect from Republican rivals. Obama had been there a little over three years, and while it appears that he's a nice fellow, in politics that may be a weakness. For four and a half years, Republicans have hit him with everything including the kitchen sink, and his posture seems to be just starting to harden. I figured Hillary would have given no quarter from Day One.

So, Obama's lack of Beltway experience was as evident as I feared it would be. It's taken him until the first year of his second term to understand what political hardball is.

He's 52 tomorrow, and now that I'm 57, I look back on that as a watershed year. I'd been a fitness stickler for over 25 years until that year. I pulled a muscle and was sidelined. I realized that I'd reached upper middle age, and that it wasn't going to get any better.

Analogously, I saw multiple layoffs that year where I worked, and realized that my time would come someday. Fortunately, it took about four more years for them to get around to me. Then I went through the tortures of dealing with the cheap, greedy thieves at the Texas Workforce Commission, for six months and a week. They still owe me money that I'll never get.

But, to end the digression, at 52 I could suddenly see the end of a lot of things.

Obama turns 52 tomorrow, and he's a "lame duck." He's still struggling to make "Obamacare," his signature program, a reality against stubborn opposition. He's had to face one of the unpleasant realities of wielding power: You're responsible for the lives of a lot of people, and that can mean making choices you'd rather not make, like between privacy and safety, between social justice and responsible budgeting. He's alienated much of the left (or what's left of it) by choosing to continue domestic spying and compromising on Social Security cuts. And his deal-cutting hasn't endeared him to the right, which has reviled and vilified him from Day One.

52 is a time of life for soul-searching, and I suspect that Barack Obama will be no exception. It's time to think about legacy, about what you want to be remembered for. Obama has been reasonably pragmatic (though a bit too nice) in positioning himself as a centrist, but does he really want to be remembered as the president who approved of spying and secrecy, and who let the right needlessly gut Social Security and Medicare?

It's time for introspection. Obama must realize that alienating his base of support won't improve his standing in the history books, nor will it give him the Congress he wants in 2014. I hope he can make the right choices.

And which ones are those? To be honest, since I have no Beltway experience, I can offer no answers. Obama is there, in the thick of it. I hope he's grown into the job enough to make the best decisions.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Anonymous said...

I recall saying sarcastically to a number of people I know that GOP lawmakers so strongly despise Obama that they'd even oppose a move by Obama to cut taxes.
And then, sure enough, Obama proposed a payroll tax cut and the GOP fought it for months.
It's a shame that the Tea Party types have no idea that Obama cut their taxes.
Hillary should win in 2016. But we need to work to ensure that she has a Dem Congress to work with. And we need to get behind Al Franken's effort to end Citizens United. Everyone: go to Al's site and sign the petition.

Anonymous said...


I've always been of the opinion that President Obama had no idea of the Hell he'd be inheriting when he entered office. I find it sad that it has taken him well into his second term to have actually accomplished any of his administration's goals.

Granted the man did inherit scorched Earth going back the The Gipper, but not having enough backbone to counter Neocon and Tea Party stubbornness on every single issue has not endeared the President very well in my opinion.

I too felt that Hillary Clinton would've been a far better candidate for president back in 2008. She had nearly 40 years of political experience and insight, along with having been married to a former President who was crucified by the right wing his entire time in office. She had some lady balls that would've gotten her far.

I sometimes feel as if I'm 52 instead of 32. I've never finished a Bachelor's degree, despite trying for nearly eight years at two Michigan universities. I only have two Associate's degrees, and am on the 1st punch of my second trade apprenticeship in the last year. Millwrighting underemployed me, so I did some soul searching and took an electrical apprenticeship, having had my candidate number come up after 3 years in the running at the local trade school.

I can empathize with the President in feeling as if I'm constantly losing, even when I "win". Despite being employed, I still feel unaccomplished for not having done more.

I can only imagine how terrible I'll feel at 52, especially if I don't reach a foreman or supervisory position, or somehow finish a Bachelor's degree or higher by then. Again I say 32 is my 52, but at least President managed to hold the highest office in the land at that age.


Manifesto Joe said...

I wouldn't want to be 32 now, looking at the kind of world it is rapidly becoming. People your age are going to have to battle "the new feudalism" of the very rich and sweat through climate change. My wife and I sometimes regret that we stayed intentionally childless, but she agrees with me that it's not a world I'd want to leave to someone who'd be about the age my son or daughter would have been.

Old Scout said...

It is always reassuring to know well-read minds and well-educated personas agree - especially about "the Clinton Woman", Washington and Professionalism in politics.

But ... I don't think Obama's concerned about 'his legacy'. I think he's so self confident and emotionally secure that he realizes History, McConnell, the Tea-Party and the remaining republi-can'ts have sealed his legacy. He had the vision, vocabulary and vigor to perceive a future predicated on compromise. Minor savings in Social Security are meaningless in the grand scheme of the structural changes he would have wrought.

More later.

Old Scout said...

The ultimate aim of the republi-can't agenda is repeal of the rest of the NewDeal AND ALL OF Obama's improvements to the NewDeal, like CFPB, PPACA & the support of union organization.

His destiny is guaranteed by history. MissyMcconnell and his loyal minions provided so much political resistance and propagandized misinformation that the only way the real Republicans could lose was to pass the legislation. Since that was the only way to lose, the republi-can'ts exercising the ultimate level of stupidity, cupidity and self-destructive animus - the 'can'ts decided to keep it from passing.

By opposing and refusing to pass the lege, the can'ts sealed Obama's fate & destiny. His administration will rank up there with Clinton & Johnson, well ahead of Nixon, Reagan, Bush(43) and slightly ahead of Bush(41) & Teddy Roosevelt. Eisenhower will probably be the only Republican rated as a better President than Obama.