Obama: What's his problem?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by madanthonywayne, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    My biggest peeve with him is he too pragmatic.
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Education is not knowing a bunch of facts or skills like being able to do algebra (or even quantum mechanics and general relativity). That is training. Education is being able to think critically (for your self) and cope with new situations.

    Demonstrate yours by telling why education should be locally funded.*

    I contend that 100 years ago, the US economy needed a lot of strong backs and weak minds, but no loner as we now compete with nations who educate their entire populations. In the modern era it is brain power not brawn that wins the international competition. The US is losing too many brains that self educate to a live of crime.

    * Don't present some moral argument about not right to force the well off to fund good education for the poor, etc. Try to stick to economic arguments or any other arguments you wish not based only on opinions (like morals are)

    Why is it good for the US to have by far the highest percentage of its population in prison, the highest crime rates, the highest murder rates, etc. of any developed country? It cost about the same as Harvard tuition for each prisoner kept in prison. Why can't the US be more like a Scandinavia country?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2010
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  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    I would dispute that premise. Obama's gotten a lot of big stuff done for the first half of a first Presidential term - Health Care, Financial Reform, winding down Iraq, etc. etc. By any objective measure of policy achievement, it's pretty impressive.

    Which would imply that what we're talking about here is approval ratings, and not actual governance and implementation of policy. As born out here:

    Which is to say that what needs explaining is, to first order, why Obama's approval rating is what it is (rather than, "why Obama is a bad President" - that's only relevant if we first establish that this is what is driving the approval ratings).

    And to that question: to begin with, historically speaking his approval ratings are not particularly dire for a President midway into his first term. Clinton's were worse at the same time in his Presidency (his health care reform push had just gone down in flames), and he was handily re-elected 2 years later.

    In the second place, there's an obvious explanation for why Obama's approval ratings would understate his performance: the economy is still crap, and when the economy is crap people complain about the President (regardless of how good a job he's doing, or what power he really has over the economy). This is particularly true of high-unemployment scenarios and, employment being a lagging indicator, that will persist for a politically-salient amount of time after the economy begins recovery, no matter how good a job Obama does. And let's note the steadfast GOP opposition to any federal measures that would ease pressure on the unemployed (extension of benefits, jobs programs, etc.). They understand perfectly well that generalized economic discontent harms Obama politically, and exploit this ruthlessly.

    Beyond that, I think that Obama has a personality/communication problem that hampers his ability to gain kudos for his political accomplishments. He's very deliberative and behind-the-scenes, and so rarely gets out and makes an emotional connection to the American people as a leader. This can perhaps be changed, since his campaign performance illustrated his abilities (and he doesn't seem to lack in this department on a smaller level when speaking at local campaign events). It seems that there is some tactical decision in place to keep his big national outreach at a low level.

    It's been suggested by people smarter than me that a certain amount of Republican victory in November will actually be a shot in the arm for Obama's Presidency. The thinking is that a party as marginalized as today's GOP is actually a bigger impediment to governing than a more balanced legislature, because they have no stake in anything and so no incentive to do anything except play the spoiler. A re-empowered GOP in the legislature would necessarily have to take ownership of some issues and produce results, and this will create space for compromise and deal-making. Note that essentially all of the big legislative achievements of the Clinton years occurred after the 1994 GOP victories in Congress.
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  7. smokinglizard Registered Senior Member

    Not really, considering his party controlled both houses of Congress at the time. It's no more impressive than Stalin ordering collectivization...it was simply a dictatorial edict.
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member



    Hmm ... why does he—

    —think that way?

    Maybe we should just ask him, since nothing realistic or rational comes to mind that, I suspect, he would not find insulting, denigrating, or otherwise diminishing.

    So, yeah, hey, Smokinglizard, why do you think that way?
  9. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    The Poorman said it best:
  10. Mrs.Lucysnow Valued Senior Member

    Because it is too different. You would literally have to burn the constitution and begin all over again to do what they do in Scandinavia. Also the Scandinavian's are a collective, a mostly homogenized clan and americans are not. You know what has changed liberal sentiments in most Scandinavian countries? Immigration. Now that they have to deal with a sizable group of 'outsider's there is a move to limit the social welfare making more difficult for immigrants to access it. So I submit that Sweden, Norway and Denmark worked very well as a liberal social welfare democracy up until they had to share their wealth and society with outsiders. The US already has an issue with sharing their wealth in terms of taxes etc. You would just get a hyper reaction if you tried to force a system like they have in Scandinavia where a substantial amount of tax payer dollars are going towards social welfare. Also these societies have much smaller populations, Denmark has roughly only 5 million people and Scandinavians are wealthier too, they can afford their system. The US is too big, too diverse and at this particular moment too far into debt. How the hell are you going to tax everyone 50% of their earnings which would go to collective health care and education, not to mention all the other percs when they are either out of work or are not making enough? You would also lose a certain amount of the wealthy who would naturally go to other nations that are less likely to tax them so heavily...for example the very wealthy were leaving Holland for Belgium where they were not going to lose as much money in taxes. Anyway I like very much the system in Scandinavia but I would insist the reason why it works is because they are a different people altogether.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  11. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    only problem with that is it presupposes a monolithic voting block which just is not the case
  12. smokinglizard Registered Senior Member

    Because if you really think about it, it's 100% true -- any time a President's party -- again whether he's a Democrat or Republican -- controls both Houses, especially with a filibuster-proof majority, he effectively becomes a dictator for as long as his party holds that majority. He can decree that everyone must wear purple socks on Tuesday and chances are good it'll become law.

    No one in Congress (with the exception, maybe, of a Blue Dog here or there in the case of the Democrats) is going to oppose his own party's President, as to do so would a) be going against your own party's lead dog and b) be political suicide.
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Tell me what is so different in their education and health care systems that the US could not adopt it.

    I think the main difference is they do provide good low cost health care for ALL* and good nearly free education thru college, so yes their top tax rate is higher.

    My ex-wife graduated form Oslo teachers college. She did need to agree to serve one year where ever the government sent her to have free education. (That meant she had to be fluent in the three version of Norwegian in use in the country.) All Norwegian get the same high quality eduction. Part of the reason it produces higher achievement levels than US is the simple fact that your first grade teacher is your second grade teacher.... and finally your eighth grade teacher. There is no passing a slow or problem child on to the next grade, just to get rid of him.

    Also great advantage of the teacher moving with the kids system is that only in the first grade is any time wasted learning in what areas each child is weak and where he is strong. The education of each class is a team effort. - So if in second grade Kurt is already doing fourth grade math, but Gretal has problems with her multiplications then Kurt will work with her as a "teacher's aid."

    Everyone knows who is responsible for each class's progress. Often the local village will honor teachers who have done well exceptionally. 35 years after my ex came to live in the USA, she still got X-mas cards from her students, all of whom were doing well. One quite well. His usually said the if she ever need financial help, just ask as she had made him the success he was today. I.e. when the teacher keeps same kids thru elementary school system, there is clear responsibility for the students education.

    In the US, if Johnny can't read when he drops out of school, we blame Johnny, who often does quite well at a life of crime (demonstrating his native intelligence and people skills).

    More in next post on government.

    *Three years greater life expectancy than in the US at about half the cost as ALL get preventive and early care when sick.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2010
  14. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Tell me how their system of government is so different that we would need to burn the constitution. I think the main difference is that with a well educated population the politicians can not buy their way into office and the corrupt ones are quickly thrown out.

    The official description of Sweden's government follows (with bold added):

    “… Sweden is a parliamentary democracy, which means that all public power proceeds from the people. At the national level, the people are represented by the Riksdag which has legislative power. The Government implements the Riksdag's decisions and draws up proposals for new laws or law amendments.
    General elections which are held every four years are an important expression of the fact that we in Sweden live in a democracy. As one of the approximately 7 million people in the country entitled to vote, you are given an opportunity to influence which parties are to represent you in the Riksdag, county council and municipal council. However, there are many ways of influencing Swedish politics, for example by taking part in referendums, joining a political party or sending in your comments on reports presented by the Government.
    Basic provisions defining how Sweden shall be governed are enshrined in the Constitution. In these fundamental laws the relationship between decision-making and executive power is set out and also the freedoms and rights enjoyed by citizens. Among other things, the Instrument of Government guarantees citizens the right to freely procure information, hold demonstrations, form political parties and practise their religion.
    In another of the fundamental laws, the Freedom of the Press Act, the principle of public access to official documents is set out in order to guarantee an open society with access to information about the work of the Riksdag, the Government and public agencies. This openness entitles the Swedish people to study official documents. Anyone may avail him/herself of this possibility whenever they wish. …”

    From: http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2853
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Ideology and implementation

    To stick my nose in here—and Lucy, assuredly, will correct me if I miss on this one—I think it's largely a matter of ideology. With greater ethnic cohesion and a smaller geographic and demographic profile, it is easier to maintain the necessary ideological outlook. Additionally, the relationship between the people and the national government is different: Norway, for instance, does not have fifty states aspring to be miniature republics.

    And that last applies also to the means of implementation. It is possible that much will be answered in the lawsuits filed against health care reform by various American states, but those might also beg more questions than they ask.

    I think if the United States would adopt a single-payer system and make it stick, people would adjust fairly quickly, especially if it was effectively administrated. That, of course, is its own gamble. But the nature of the republic, our electoral system, and the vast diversity of perspectives and priorities in the United States will present tremendous challenges. We saw in the recent health care battle how difficult it is to make any seriously progressive change. People want to run a marathon with baby-steps. And as our neighbor Smokinglizard reminds, facts evaporate quickly. After all the drama and tension of the healthcare discussion, the passage of a bill has been reduced in some people's mind to a "dictatorial edict".
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The Blue Dogs "here or there" are a large enough faction to kill any legislation they oppose, and pass - via alliances with Reps or Dems - any legislation they approve.

    Dozens - hundreds, in total - of Democratic Congressmen have opposed this Democratic President, in large matters and small, individually and in voting blocs. You appear to have confused the Republican Party's methods of operation with the Democratic Party's less coherent and more argumentative, locally representative setup. The Parties are not twins, or mirrors of each other.

    For a prime example, consider the fate of single payer health care in Congress. The President has stated publicly that a single payer system, socialized health insurance (not socialized medicine, note), is his preference. But he faces so much opposition in Congress that it's not worth his even trying to get one enacted. His entire health care bill was a series of significant compromises with Congressional opposition, mostly within his own Party.
  17. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Yes, but in the process he's alienated much of the American electorate and created a backlash likely to sweep his party out of power in the house and senate.
    You are correct in saying that his approval ratings aren't really that bad, but few presidents have created such a backlash to their policies as to endanger what was a very comfortable majority in both houses of congress.
    Agreed. But Obama himself set the bar by which his economic initiatives would be judged in saying that unemployment wouldn't go over 8% if we passed the stimulus. Well, we passed it and unemployment is above the level he predicted if we hadn't passed it. He also spoke of a "recovery summer" yet unemployment actually increased over the summer.
    Unemployment insurance has already been extended longer than ever before in US history. Beyond that, I think the Republicans simply do not agree with much of what Obama has proposed.
    I think he's surrounded himself with a bunch of academics who all think the same way he does; so he often puts his foot in his mouth and there's no one around to point out his error in advance.
    I agree that divided government is usually best. But you're not suggesting that Obama is actually so devious as to purposely throw this midterm election, are you?
  18. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    The stimulus was far too small (and by the way, it hasn't all been spent yet). Obama's problem is that he campaigned on changing everything, but he's really too conservative to do that. Of course, his detractors would say he was being too "dictatorial", never mind that they appreciated those qualities in Republican leaders. Much of the so-called backlash is phoney. People don't really understand the issues involved, but they are being incited by cynical political operatives. Obama is far superior to any of the current right wingers, who more and more seem to be completely nuts.
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    99.9% fact-free?

    The current Democratic majority in the Senate is 59-41, which is not filibuster-proof. Perhaps if the Republicans hold a 60-40 majority, they can stand against filibuster, but—

    —when Democrats have to satisfy at least seven potential Blue Dog Senators (the Blue Dogs are a House entity) as well as court a Republican vote, it's even harder to break a filibuster.

    Additionally, in the House, the Blue Dog Coalition numbers fifty-one Representatives, which is enough to kill a Democratic voting majority; the current balance is 253-178, and majority vote requires 218 votes. The Democrats must court sixteen Blue Dogs in the House to achieve a majority.

    I would suggest that sometimes, when we stop to wonder, "Okay, why does he think that way?" we must occasionally face the reality that someone thinks what they do because they are not considering the facts. It's hard to say to you, "That's a fair point," when, in fact, it's an ignorant argument you're putting forward. Now, maybe that ignorant argument comes about because you haven't been paying attention, or maybe it's just ridiculously slanted partisanship. I mean, sure, I see the point you're trying to make, but it's just plain wrong. Uninformed. Fact-free.


    Stoller, Matt. "Evan Bayh Forming Blue Dog Caucus in the Senate". Open Left. December 14, 2008. OpenLeft.com. September 8, 2010. http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=10437

    Grim, Ryan. "Blue Dog Membership List Released". The Huffington Post. March 30, 2009. HuffingtonPost.com. September 8, 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/30/blue-dog-membership-list_n_180755.html
  20. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Did Obama alienate the American electorate or was he the victim of a special interest financed hit squad...like the Swift Boat Vets?
    Should the president then surrender to the special interests? Few presidents have made as many or as signficant changes as President Obama has made in his first few months in office.

    This is an often repeated allegation by the extreme right however it is just not true. Obama never made that claim. Nor did his staffers issue a promise that unemployment rate would not exceed 8%. The whole thing is a lie.


    What did happen is Obama's advisors issued a paper which made estimates based on existing data. Subsequently, it turned out the preliminary data they used was much worse than expected. So there estimates were much lower than they turned out to be. This is not an uncommon occurance. The demand is such that estimates are often based on preliminary data and revised when the preliminary data is revised.

    Bottom line, your often repreated claim is a false one.

    Republicans don't like anything Obama supports (e.g. they were for Deficit Reduction Task Force until President Obama supported it.) So it doesn't matter what Obama would do or support, as soon as Obama supports it Republicans will be against it.

    That have been proven time and time again in the 18 or so months Obama has been in office.
    You have any proof of that? Some of his most important advisors are Republicans. Obama went out of his way to make sure not all of his advisors agreed with him. That is something george II would hve done...not Obama.
    I did not see anything in the text that suggested he thought Obama was in any way devious.
  21. Mrs.Lucysnow Valued Senior Member


    Yes but do you believe that the US can adopt the norwegian system which serves a population of under 5 million of a predominantly homogenized group to the entire US of A? You didn't seem to address the points I had made of why I think it cannot be done without completely ripping up the US constitution and starting fresh. You could use some of their methods yes but that could only be done on a local level. I didn't say I didn't approve of their system, I do. But I did outline why I thought it couldn't be applied. You claim that the government can provide this across the american nation and that it shouldn't be handled by local and State government. I believe the only way you would be able to manage a transition like that is to hand it over to local and State.

    Johnny is lost in a large bureaucracy, the chances of him getting lost in a streamlined system where local communities take control over their own education system is less likely.

    There are such significant differences between the US and Scandinavia that it isn't funny. You cannot just take a system which is largely socialist anyway and think you can just drag it across the ocean and easily put in in place. How about the fact that these systems are largely waste free? Ever heard of a waste free governmental system in the US? No.

    You cannot ignore the cultural, social and historical and philosophical/political differences between these two parts of the world and pretend some aspect of one can be easily incorporated by the other.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  22. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    Your own link doesn't agree:
    And from Time magazine:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Notice that the last sentence of that article (in bold) makes the exact point I was making. It's not a Republican/Democrat issue; it's a matter of people with real, private sector experience in running a business.
    I'm not saying he did either, I'm asking. He pointed out that Obama might well benefit from Republican gains in the house and Senate. Since the thread topic is Obama's effectiveness (or lack) as president; I wondered if he meant to imply that Obama might have decided to go for broke and pass everything he could and damn the fallout because it might well end up helping him in the end.

    I'd consider throwing his congressional allies under the bus to be a bit devious. If Obama is really that ruthless, well, many may have underestimated him. Time will tell.
  23. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    All you are saying, Mad, is that Obama was too optimistic and our problems are worse than they initially appeared. What you leave out is that things would not be better had we spent nothing. The economy is bad, which is why Obama's poll numbers are bad. The Republicans have nothing to offer but tax cuts to people who don't need it. If the truth is that obstructionism is working politically, then go ahead and be real proud of that.

    Meanwhile, China invests in green energy technologies.

    They are going to be high tech, and we will become the farmers.

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