When President Barack Obama slugged it out with Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 campaign, Hillary warned voters that Barack’s lack of experience would catch up with him. Handed favorable conditions by former President George W. Bush, Hillary’s campaign knew early on that a Democrat would make it to the Oval Office, though Clinton still had high hopes. Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod made all the rights moves down the stretch, acing Hillary out in key Democratic primaries. When the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his niece Caroline Kennedy backed Barack, he was on his way to the White House. What Teddy and Caroline didn’t know was that the young-and-inexperienced Obama lacked the wisdom to resist pressure from the entrenched liberal wing of the Democratic Party led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Instead of letting his presidency evolve and work toward his promised goal of more bipartisanship, Obama allowed Pelosi and Reid to railroad national health care down the throats of a beleaguered Republican Party. Beaten down after years of foreign wars and a crumbling economy, the GOP lost control of the House, handing Pelosi and Reid their big chance to get national health care. When the dust settled, Obama went along with the Democratic agenda, regardless of the costs to his presidency. What Iraq did to Bush’s approval ratings, Obama’s signature legislation did the same to Obama. Imposing his version of national health care on the country, Obama broke his promise of bipartisanship, instead adopting Pelosi and Reid’s take-no-prisoners approach. Obama’s credibility sunk to new lows, with most moderates Republicans and independents turned off to his message.
Looking at the big picture, Obama should have not imposed the Democratic health care overhaul on the country, unless he had bipartisan support. His Jan. 18 speech on reforming the National Security Agency’s collection methods fell on deaf ears, largely because it was too technical but more to the point because Obama has lost relevance. When 30-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified documents June 5 to the Washington Post and U.K.’s Guardian newspaper about the government’s spying programs, it horrified the domestic and foreign press. Spying on private citizens and foreign leaders, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, rocked Washington and foreign capitals. Obama’s proposed solution, putting National Security Director James Clapper and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in charge offers little hope that something can be done to deal with the problem.
Even members of Obama’s own party weren’t satisfied with his suggestions to fix what looks like egregious violations of constitutionally protected privacy. “There’s a concern that we’ve gone too much in Americans’ privacy,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, sponsoring his own legislation to restrict government access into private citizens’ data. “I believe in going after the bad guys. But I also believe in checks and balances, so you don’t have government run amok,” Leahy told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Obama’s speech sadly makes a hero of Snowden, a garden variety snitch, who’s been touted as a legitimate whistleblower in both left and right wing circles. NSA contractors who violate their confidentiality agreements should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of what they expose to the public.
Obama’s sinking credibility came to head when he was forced to apologize for promising citizens before implementing Obamacare they could keep their own insurance and doctors. When insurance companies began canceling policies, it was obvious that the president didn’t know what he was talking about. While there’s some obvious benefits to the March 23, 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it’s caused havoc in the insurance marketplace. Not only hasn’t it delivered on affordability, it’s caused insurance companies to cancel policies and raise premiums. With no bipartisan support, it’s impossible to fashion legislation to keep the insurance industry from gouging consumers. White House officials didn’t anticipate all the complications, forcing the president to eat crow on his promises. While there’s a chance things will work out, Obama’s credibility headed south.
Hazarding opinions on legalized marijuana, Obama’s sunk to new lows trying to find some relevance. Instead of providing guidance to his attorney general, he offered his own personal views. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and vice, not very different than the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my life,” said Obama, displaying his lost relevance. With marijuana legal in Washington State and Colorado, and with medical marijuana legal in 20 states, who cares about Barack’s personal views? Baracks’ views on most subjects aren’t resonating with a majority of Americans. High expectations have been tempered with the painful disappointments, now losing him approval and precious credibility. More folks talk today about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie than Obama’s domestic and foreign agenda.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.