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A Progressive’s Evaluation of President Obama’s Performance

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Some have complained that all I do is defend President Obama. I wonder how many of those who have complained have noticed that my defenses of Obama have all been against attacks by conservatives…every single one. None of the conservatives ever bothered to ask what I didn't like about Obama.

But I believe in looking at the big picture, at a person's performance as a whole, rather than at this or that issue where I agree or disagree with that person. In school, we call these 'report cards', while in most occupations, we call them 'performance evaluations'. The P.E.'s may be more professional, but report cards are more accessible…more fun. While we can all imagine what kind of report card most conservatives would give Obama, not everyone sees things from the progressive point of view. Perhaps the conservatives will learn something from seeing things as progressives do. In my experience they're not known for their ability to empathize, but I'll try anyway.

Economy: A+. How can anyone honestly call it otherwise? As bad as things still seem to be, when compared to America's recoveries from recessions past, we're recovering in record time. The recession officially ended in August when the economy stopped receding and began to grow. This will mark the shortest interval between the bottom point of the stock market and the end of the recession since at least WWII. Furthermore, if we begin having positive job growth before August, that will be the quickest turnaround in employment following a recession since at least 1900. These are both despite the fact that this 'Great Recession' was by nearly all accounts the worst economic upheaval in America since the Great Depression. In the end, 'winning ugly' is still winning, and the numbers are clear. President Obama richly deserves an A+ on the economy.

Health Care: C. Too many promises made during the election campaign were broken, and instead of giving the health insurance industry its richly-deserved comeuppance, we get the proverbial half a loaf: no public option, no true universal health care, legally-enforced membership in health plans, but in return there will be no more denial of care for frivolous reasons, and the coverage for adults will not begin until 2014, and the plan should – should – add little or nothing to the deficit (which could not be said of ANY of the Republican plans). My oldest son will be able to get health care in 2014 that he can't get now. Obama's done that for my son — but the Republican plans would have done NOTHING for my son. That means a lot, come the first Tuesday of November 2012.

The 'War on Terror': B. President Obama's actually closely followed what he promised during the campaign. He said he'd begin pulling the troops out of Iraq, and we are on track to have all combat troops out by August of next year, just like he said. Also, I heard on the radio this morning that in December 2009, there were NO American combat troops killed in Iraq; I hope that's true. Obama said he'd increase the troops in Afghanistan, and he is doing so in compliance with the requests of the generals on the ground. Furthermore, the FBI/CIA et al have thwarted quite a few attacks, apparently. Some have gotten through, but it is flatly impossible to stop them all – which is something the conservatives don't seem to realize as they vilify President Obama for thus far doing a significantly better job guarding America against terrorists than the previous administration did. Obama could do better, IMO, but he's already head-and-shoulders above the White House's previous occupant who apparently cared little for the troops that he sent into harm's way.

The Justice Department: D. Why? Because President Obama needs to grow a pair and get the Bush appointees out of the courts. He could do this with 'recess appointments'. He also failed to pressure the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those who committed torture — and those who approved and ordered it — under the last administration. He has not closed down Gitmo as he promised…although since two Gitmo alumni that the Bush administration released apparently went to Yemen and joined al-Qaeda, perhaps he is right to not be too hasty about how to close down this abomination, this travesty against American values and tradition.

The Environment: C. President Obama is striving as best he can to get with the rest of the world concerning global warming…and to get the rest of the world on board. The fact that there are so many domestic conservative Luddites opposing him cannot be used as an excuse for not doing more. He also should have earmarked FAR more of the stimulus money to green technology.

America's Energy Independence: C. This grade is strongly linked to the grade on the environment, and President Obama's failure to support green technology with more than words and campaign promises.

Bipartisanship: B. President Obama has striven mightily to include the Republicans and their ideas in his efforts — witness the 181 earmarks included in the Health Reform bill passed by the House of Representatives, despite the vehement opposition by all the House Republicans but one. Obama would get an 'A', but he has allowed his desire for bipartisanship to hinder his efforts to fix the American health care system.

International Diplomacy and Foreign Relations: A+. Despite all the claims otherwise by the conservatives, there would have been almost no possibility of a popular uprising by the moderates in Iran without Obama's diplomacy and outreach. The very fact of his election bettered our relations with much of the world, including the Islamic community, most especially the most populous Muslim country on the planet – Indonesia. What the conservatives don't understand is that when people feel warmly towards a country's leader, one is much less likely to attack that country, and more likely to aid that country against a threat. Not for nothing is the old saying, "You can draw more flies with honey than with vinegar." Obama understands this. The Rabid Right doesn't, not at all, as is shown by their perpetual perception of Obama's diplomatic efforts as proofs of political weakness, even as modern versions of Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany.

Commander-in-Chief: B. Though he has not yet been tested by a true crisis, President Obama is obviously much more circumspect about his use of American troops, and is more respectful of the risks they must face. However, he's shown that he is not afraid to use force if need be, as is evinced by the coming increase in troops in Afghanistan, the predator strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and even the rumored use of Blackwater mercenaries in covert ops in Pakistan.

Domestic Policy (not including Health Reform and the Justice Department): B. One of the first things President Obama did after taking office was to sign the Lily Ledbetter Act, preventing further such miscarriages of justice allowed by the Conservative tradition of ignoring the law and for all intents and purposes ascribing to the business world Alistair Crowley's 'prophecy' that "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Furthermore, Obama's striving to pass the creation of a new cabinet-level department, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and also created the Food Safety Working Group, which is tasked with protecting America's food supply and is jointly overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. However, he has failed to repeal that grand violation of the Constitution by the Bush administration, the Patriot Act.

It should be noted that I have not included a grade on his personal morality, for 'morality' is not always a desirable trait in kings – or their modern equivalent, presidents..for in the final analysis, the results such leaders bring about for the countries they lead are all that matter.

In summary, then, I'd give President Obama a solid grade of B, possibly B+. I strongly disagree with some things he's done or failed to do, but overall, in the big picture, he's done quite well in the face of two wars and the worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression.

Am I wrong? Possibly. I once wrote an op-ed for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer congratulating Bush 43 after the first democratic election held in Iraq. I had been a Democrat for about ten years at the time. I didn't realize then the extent to which his administration had ignored domestic and international law, and I did not know then that he had knowingly initiated the invasion on false pretenses. So I know that I can be wrong…but in this case I doubt it. President Obama's doing very, very well so far. I can only hope he eventually makes right on his failings that I enumerated above.

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About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • I’d point out the glaring fallacies and bizarre delusional thinking inm this article, but then I’d just start laughing again and I need to get some sleep.


  • zingzing

    and then we could go look at your articles and laugh backwards, dave.


    you only get a joke when it’s aiming away from you.

    and you’re so transparent it’s easy to walk right through you, as if you were the ghost of the republican party, that aging,dying wing of american political thought. you know it’s going to die with you, right? good luck over the next 30 years… you’ll see you become us and us become far more than you ever bargained for. just as it ever was.

  • Glenn,

    Your evaluation of Obama and the economy is almost laughable. In evaluating the economy, I stick with very few things. One is the stability of the currency- which is closely linked to tax receipts, balance of payments and gross productivity and the total amount of the currency in circulation. A second is the need to work – or put differently, how many family members need to work to support the family? A third is the price of gold. Finally, there are the shares and equity markets, and the commodity markets.

    When things are good, the price of gold tends to fall: people do not feel they need to hedge against disaster, and gold is the traditional millennia-old hedge against disaster.

    When looking at the price of gold over time, we see that toward the middle of the last Clinton administration (1995-1997), people perceived things to be very good. As time went on from there, people have been buying up gold as a hedge against disaster. For myself, were I to have invested $2,000 in 5 one-ounce gold coins in 1990, and had I sat on them, I would have over $5,600 today – about the same as investing in a fund paying about 8% a year. But as you can see, the price of gold has jumped as the stability of the dollar has dropped – and that is the key difference. The dollar, a mere relative evaluation against the economy and against other currencies, can collapse altogether – as can the other currencies – while gold would retain real value in all instances.

    We can’t really get a clear read on the stability of the dollar as the M3 number – the gross amount of dollars out there is – no longer made public, thanks to the Clinton administration. The shares and equity markets have been turned into a casino by the progressive de-regulation of the Reagan and Clinton administrations. GW Bush merely spent money like a madman from 2001 to the middle of 2008, sinking what remained of your solvency into the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers – while “conservatives” said indebtedness was not a bad thing – and then basically kept Wall Street from collapsing in 2008 – when it indeed deserved to collapse.

    Obama cannot be blamed for the final crack in the financial system that took place in Sept. 2008 – but his “solution” – massive deficit spending of a dollar that has no value at all – will come to haunt you by 2011 with hyper-inflation.

    That’s an A+ in handling the economy, Glenn? What Koolaid have you been drinking?

  • pablo

    I think Glenn has been drinking Obama-aide.;)

  • Hi Glen, long time since I’ve been here.. I agree that Obama should grow a bigger pair when dealing with the opposition..WE WON!
    The fact that he is having this much trouble pushing a more progressive agenda forward shows just how corrupt this country is.

    UNCHECKED Capitalism has produced a nation of liars!

    Yet, I believe even though he is not fully appreciated now in our lifetime, he will be recognized someday by future generations as being one of our greatest Presidents legally elected.:)

    I am glad they will say the only people who truly saw the light was the LEFT!

  •  Glen, This is my view and I have a feeling I’m not alone!    

    The one core principal of the conservative philosophy seems to be a selfishness and what is truly missing from the conservative party is “empathy”.  I think this is the reason they look at those in this society with less money as somehow being of little value to them and theirs. Instead of seeing what they can learn from all those around them , not just the other members of the “lucky sperm club”, they see the middle and lower classes as a burden.  To top it all off they have even convinced the people, that they would never really invite to their “tent”, to vote against themselves. I say to these “fools” “wake up”!
         So what does a true conservative soul believe in besides the pursuit of the almighty dollar? Well lets look at these beliefs here:
          Number one.  As long as I’m safe I don’t care what my government does including torture and taking my civil liberties away.  Well, there goes the Geneva Convention and Amendments I, IV, and V of the Constitution of the United States right out the window. Wouldn’t you agree?  But leave number II alone we like that one!
          Number two.  As long as I have health care, education, and income.  What does it really matter to me and mine. Unless we can get through to these people that a society is only as strong as its weakest link and that we all have something to add to America if just given the chance; then this battle will never be won. For-profit health care is immoral and they know it.  My father-in-law used to say ” doctors create patients”  you had that one correct Leonard!  Single-payer health care should be our right not their burden. 
          One the subject of education the wealthy have legacy, sponsorship and the finest ivy league schools for their children to attend.  So what if some schools have to actually stop all activity to wait for a passing train, to make it’s way by the dilapidated building, before the under paid teachers can continue their lessons without enough books, paper, and pencils. 

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    Obama cannot be blamed for the final crack in the financial system that took place in Sept. 2008 – but his “solution” – massive deficit spending of a dollar that has no value at all – will come to haunt you by 2011 with hyper-inflation.

    That is your assumption, Ruvy. But this isn’t the nearly-powerless Weimar Republic, is it? This isn’t incredibly-corrupt Zimbabwe either, is it? No. The American government is not nearly so powerless as the Weimar Republic, and carries barely a fraction of the corruption of Zimbabwe. Sure, you want to believe otherwise…but I suspect I may have a better understanding of third-world government.

    In September of 2008, we stood on the precipice of worldwide depression. The original TARP was rushed through and halted our slide into depression…but without the stimulus to the financial world that Obama passed in February 2009, we could not have climbed out of the situation we were in. Our slide down the economic rabbit hole would have continued…and we would have taken the rest of the industrialized world with us, including Israel.

    The stimulus WORKED, Ruvy. Your doom-and-gloom proclamations do NOT match the reality of today. YES, Obama’s stimulus made the dollar weaker, but that was what was necessary to jump-start the economy just as the American government has responded to every other recession for over a century.

    Would you rather he have done nothing? That’s what the Republicans say. If they’d had their way, then GM would’ve shut its doors and another 2 million Americans would’ve lost their jobs. The big financial sector would’ve continued to stagnate – they’re still not lending as much as they should, but they are lending MUCH more than they would have if they’d received no stimulus money to save their bacon…and of the big banks that were bailed out, several have repaid the loans (with interest, profit FOR the taxpayers). If the Republicans would’ve had their way, the stock market wouldn’t be 4,000 above what it was last March – it’d probably be somewhere near or even below that level…and they’d still be blaming the Democrats for the whole mess, never mind that it was Republican policy that brought down the mighty house of cards that was the U.S. economy.

    YES, the TARP and stimulus hurt…but they hurt a lot less than a worldwide depression, for with depression comes crushing poverty, rampant corruption, and political and military unrest. If you’ll recall, the last time we had a worldwide depression a certain right-winger took power promising to get his country back to work. His first name was Adolf.

    Given a choice between a weakened dollar and the prospect of depression, I’ll take the weakened dollar every time, secure in the knowledge that we will NOT see the hyperinflation to which you allude. Our situation simply does not compare to those of the countries who did experience hyperinflation. Besides – as STM pointed out on a different thread – a weakened dollar encourages the American export market and who knows – maybe, just maybe we can rebuild America’s manufacturing base destroyed by presidents Reagan through Bush 43.

    The sky ain’t falling, Ruvy. The storm was pretty rough, and it’s still going to rain for awhile with some minor flooding, but I look forward to 2012 and the opportunity to point out to you how hyperinflation didn’t happen, and how much stronger America’s economy has become…and then we’ll see who has the intestinal fortitude to grab out the Tabasco for a big heaping helping of edible crow.

  • The sky ain’t falling, Ruvy. The storm was pretty rough, and it’s still going to rain for awhile with some minor flooding, but I look forward to 2012 and the opportunity to point out to you how hyperinflation didn’t happen, and how much stronger America’s economy has become…and then we’ll see who has the intestinal fortitude to grab out the Tabasco for a big heaping helping of edible crow.

    If you still have internet service, if your country isn’t in the midst of falling apart, and if you don’t have 11 year old kids riding shot-gun shooting people up, you can tell me all about how Obama has succeeded, Glenn. Better yet, wait till I put in my application for Social Security in 2013 – to rub my nose in it.

    If you are actually able.

    If I can get Social Security in 2013-2014 in real dollars instead of play money, I’ll be happy to be wrong.

    In the meantime, everything you say is a joke and a delusion.

  • And by the way, Glenn, the price of gold, the ultimate hedge against economic disaster, is still going up.

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “In the meantime, everything you say is a joke and a delusion.”

    you’re the one making doomsday prophecies that sound like the mutterings of a crotchety old man.

    “If I can get Social Security in 2013-2014 in real dollars instead of play money, I’ll be happy to be wrong.”

    wait. you’re going to take american money? is that what i’m seeing?

  • Arch Conservative

    Well Glenn….[edited]

    This is one of the worst articles that’s ever appeared on this site.

    Conggrats Glen!

  • mrdockellis

    This reminds me of:

    Somebody interrupted Walter Lippmann speaking at an Awards dinner with a very rude remark and he said “Do I have to respond to that drivel?”

  • zingzing

    well archie…[edited]

    that is one of the worst comments that’s ever appeared on this site.

    conggrats archie!

  • wait. you’re going to take american money? is that what i’m seeing?

    I’ll take what I earned, genius. I paid in my forty quarters and the fuckers owe me. And the second I’m eligible, I want what any guy who has paid into a pension fund deserves – his pension!

    Gotta problem with that? Or are you such a sucker that you’d walk away from what you earned over so small a thing as politics?

  • zingzing

    heh. nope. take what you paid.

    i hope every israel-hating american dollar grates on your soul.

    bah, no i don’t.

    first sane thing i’ve heard out of you in a while.

  • But, zing, I do not think I’ll be wrong. If I see a pension at all from the US, it’ll be $3.75 to the shekel, not the other way round like it is today.

  • zingzing

    you wanna bet on it?

  • This reads like a script for SNL’s spoof of CNN/s “Point-CounterPoint” that Akroyd and Curtain did!
    Thanks for the laughs folks!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    I did some reading on the Great Depression, and I found some really interesting parallels to the early 2000’s:

    – Uniform central bank policies allowed banks with poor lending policies to have easy access to credit”as easy as conservative banks. Austrian theorists hold that the key cause of the Depression was the expansion of the money supply in the 1920s that led to an unsustainable credit-driven boom.

    – During the Crash of 1929 preceding the Great Depression, margin requirements were only 10%. Brokerage firms, in other words, would lend $9 for every $1 an investor had deposited. Compare this to the modern derivatives market.

    – Some of the nation’s largest banks were failing to maintain adequate reserves and were investing heavily in the stock market or making risky loans.

    Sound familiar? But there were things that we did do now that was NOT done at the beginning of the Depression…like the TARP funds and the stimulus package. Milton Friedman noted that “From the cyclical peak in August 1929 to a cyclical trough in March 1933, the stock of money fell by over a third.” In other words, no stimulus was provided to the economy until after Roosevelt took office in March of ’33…and that’s when we began the long road to recovery.

    Many conservatives like to blame the Smoot-Hawley Act…but Smoot-Hawley did not cause the Depression. Why? Because Black Tuesday occurred on 10/29/29, but Smoot-Hawley wasn’t signed into law until 06/17/30 – over eight months later. Smoot-Hawley certainly made things worse, but it wasn’t a primary cause.

    In other words, loose monetary policy, an unsustainable credit boom, and the refusal of an economic stimulus (by the Republican administration under Hoover) largely led to the Depression.

    But I know, I know, the facts don’t matter. All that matters is your certainty that Obama’s out to destroy Israel and the American economy…yawnnnn….

  • You mean you finally read up on these things, Glenn? Mazel tov!!

    You left out an important point, that I keep trying to remind you of – IN 1929, THE UNITED STATES WAS A CREDITOR NATION, NOT A DEBTOR NATION!! We’ll get back to this later.

    The corporate pigs on Wall Street, Democrat and Republican alike, caused the crash in October 1929, but the fact of the matter was that the majority of stocks traded on the NYSE were falling from the crack in share values Sept. 1928!! So for an entire year, there was technically a bear market on Wall Street!

    In addition, the reality of life was that in the 1920’s, a vast number of Americans were living in poverty, a poverty caused by the inequitable distribution of wealth in the economy. From the recession of 1919 until the production boom in 1939, life was shit in lots of places in the land of our birth – especially in the South, where you grew up. Why the hell do you think the Klan boomed in the ’20’s, Glenn? Because they had extra bed linens to spare?

    It was production, production of vast numbers of weapons, that pulled America out of the 20 year recession it had been lolling in since the end of the First World War. The “prosperity” of the 1920’s was a pack of bullshit limited to the urban “middle class” that began to grow in the 1910’s. It was the first time that “mass communications” (the radio) was effectively used to hide the truth in the United States. It has not been the last.

    Now lets get back to the point you constantly try to overlook. Let’s repeat it once again for you, so you don’t forget. IN 1929, THE UNITED STATES WAS A CREDITOR NATION, NOT A DEBTOR NATION!!

    Why is this so important? Because in 1929, or in any of the years immediately following, the government could have minted billions of dollars and devalued the dollar or done anything they damned pleased to prevent revolution (and that what the New Deal was, an effort to prevent a revolution) AND NOBODY OVERSEAS WOULD HAVE SAID “BOO!” Nobody could afford to dare. They all owed Uncle Sam!


    You can delude yourself that you are “too big to fail” but a man of will and nerve, and such men do exist near the top in both Russia and China, will be happy to throw you all under the bus and loot your belongings if you do not have the balls to fight for them. And don’t think that just means property and chattels. They’d be happy to rape your women, too.

    From what I’ve read here, none of you have the balls to even think this way, and to comprehend what a vicious group of bastards you are dealing with. I have a much better idea than you do. The history of my people is littered with the viciousness of the Russki khui, the Ukrainians, the Poles, the Lithuanians, and all the European bastards. We know too damned well just what these bastards are like. Maybe you should ask an Uigur or a Tibetan what kind of assholes the Chinese are. They know better than I.

    You are not too big to fail, and you are not too big to be brought down with a group nuclear blasts above you that would cause an EMP. America is a rich cow, or a fat goose, ripe for slaughter, and a slutty bitch ripe for fucking as well.

    And don’t you ever forget that.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –


    Um, hate to tell you, but the ‘easy credit’ and ‘unsustainable credit-driven boom’ did NOT refer to the national debt and/or surplus, but to Main Street and privately-held banks.

    You went on that long, vicious tirade without ever really understanding what I was talking about.

  • the ‘easy credit’ and ‘unsustainable credit-driven boom’ did NOT refer to the national debt and/or surplus, but to Main Street and privately-held banks.

    I understood that clearly, Glenn. I’ve known all these things for a long time. Long before you woke up and decided to read up on the crash of 1929 and the subsequent economic recession/depression, I had read in detail about the topic. I wrote comment #20 to drive home a point.


    That means it no longer has the same freedom of action today as it had in 1929 in dealing with a broken economy, and the actions it needs to take to keep itself alive will have to be more extreme now than they were then.

    I’ve outlined those actions before. I’ll do so again for you, so you understand (you navy guys tend to be a bit slow on the uptake).

    You need to threaten the Russians and Chinese so they understand clearly that if they try to toss you under the bus, there will be nothing but a charred pile of nuclear ruins for a planet, and they will be worse off than you. They’ll get the message. Then you need to murder off the regime in Riyadh, so that it can no longer spawn more Wahhabi terrorists. You need to disarm the Persian Shi’a crazies, so that they do not provide a nuclear threat in the region.

    After you’ve rinsed your feet in blood, you can finally bestride the earth as an empire for good instead of the evil empire you are now. But before you do anything, you need to get rid of the treasonous trash at the top – by any means necessary.

    I’m not holding my breath, Glenn. I do not believe any of you in the States have the balls or brains to think like a real empire. You’ve been pussy-whipped by your own fear and political correctness.

  • Danny Boy

    “I’m not holding my breath, Glenn. I do not believe any of you in the States have the balls or brains to think like a real empire. You’ve been pussy-whipped by your own fear and political correctness.”

    You’ve hit the nail right on the head, and it’s not by coincidence. The “progressives” have been working to cripple the US since their inception. Why? Because a powerless people that believes it must depend on the government for everything is an easily-controlled people. Once the poverty has been evenly distributed no one will care about a world government with absolute control. That is Obama’s plan. That’s why he murdered his grandmother when she started to talk. That’s why EVERY policy change since he was sworn in has been done in private, without transparency, and with the purposeful exclusion of the DC conservatives.

  • zingzing

    “That is Obama’s plan. That’s why he murdered his grandmother when she started to talk.”

    and… there it is.

    “That’s why EVERY policy change since he was sworn in has been done in private, without transparency…”

    so you know absolutely nothing about what he’s done?

  • At least this nutty conspiracist gave us a laugh. Lordy.

  • Nick

    Obama certainly made a difference, but I wonder if he’ll ever get the chance to do that one epic thing for what he will be remembered not only as the first black president, but also as a great president! Let us let the time flow and we shall see the outcome…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    He did do one epic thing already – Health Care Reform, which – imperfect though it surely is – was still one of the aims of Democratic (and one Republican (Nixon)) presidents going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt.

    People tend to remember LBJ for the Vietnam War…but it was he that got us Medicare, Welfare, and Medicaid.

  • Boeke