Saturday, December 4, 2010

A lesson on human anatomy ...

Even anatomy blends into politics.  For example,

Spine: (n.)

1.  the series of vertebrae forming the axis of the skeleton and protecting the spinal cord
2.  something, as a quality or trait, that constitutes a principal strength; resolution; stamina; backbone
3.  something President Obama is currently lacking?

Of course, the third definition isn't really in the dictionary, but President Obama continues down his current path, perhaps Webster should reconsider.  Many of the policy decisions needing to be made by the American government are stalled out by partisan politics and paranoia that causes more second guessing than ten cooks in the same kitchen.  So here is the big question -- has President Obama lost his nerve?  Does he have the sinew and fortitude needed for the job?

Consider the various policy decisions looming:  tax cut extensions, the Wikileaks fiasco, "Don't ask, don't tell," and the Korean crisis. 

With the Bush administration's tax cuts set to expire this January, Democrats and Republicans are arguing over if extending the cuts will include the wealthiest 2% of Americans.  House Democrats, many of whom are "lame ducks," passed a bill this week calling for extending tax cuts to those making less than $250,000 annually.  Senate Republicans have all pledged to block any potential legislation from being voted on until they have their way with extending tax cuts to all Americans.  Who will blink first in the standoff? 

President Obama and the Democrats in the campaign of 2008 pledged to cut taxes for middle and lower classes only -- and now sources say the White House is thinking of compromising with Republicans.  Seriously?  Why would you allow Republicans to hold the government hostage with the mere threat of blocking the Senate?  Force conservatives to carry out their filibuster and show the nation which party is gumming up the works and follow through with your promise.  The Republican stance is particularly annoying since they play up the facade that not providing the wealthy with a tax cut will stifle job creation.  To borrow a phrase from Keyshawn Johnson, "C'mon man!"  Show us some fortitude Mr. President.

Another weak response from the Oval Office stems from the WikiLeaks document dump which revealed nearly a quarter of a million reports and communications detailing American diplomats and their assessments/evaluations of foreign dignitaries, various political leaders and their activities.  Is using diplomats to gather intelligence appropriate?  Maybe, maybe not.  The more compelling part of this situation is from the WikiLeaks end -- how did they receive these documents and what is being done by the U.S. to stop WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange? 

Conservative political writer Charles Krauthammer, of The Washington Post, wrote an interesting piece pertaining to this situation.  Krauthammer almost chastises the government for not having Assange under control and in custody.  According to Krauthammer, a price has to be paid for leaking such damaging information about our foreign relations and he has a good point.  What does this say about the U.S.?  Our ability to conduct foreign policy has been substantially harmed and foreign nations, hostile individuals and rogue groups need to see the repercussions for these sort of actions.

America's reponse?  A half-hearted apology from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who issued the memo for diplomats to conduct the gathering of information.  What does she have to apologize for?  Own it, America.  As the chief executive, Obama should be acting to back up his top diplomat. 

Falling back on the list of priorities for the executive branch is repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Obama promised during his run for the presidency this repeal would take place.  The president could easily sign an executive order to repeal the policy, similar to the action Harry S. Truman took in 1948 to desegregate America's armed forces.  Instead, Obama now believes the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" should be a task for Congress. 

The pressure to fulfill this promise only intensified this past week, when the Pentagon issued a report that stated removal of the current policy would have only a minimal impact on our servicemen.  Though I am personally unsure about the removal of the policy, this is a great example of the president losing his nerve.

And finally, could the precarious truce between North and South Korea finally snap?  Last week, North Korea precipitated an exchange of artillery fire between the two nations and fueling tension along the de-militarized zone.  Between this incident and the North's sinking of a South Korean warship last summer, can anyone truly blame South Korea for being ready to drop the hammer on their communist neighbors?

No one truly wants war, but is America doing enough to help a staunch ally of over 50 years?  The U.S. has conducted military training exercises with South Korea and has made an official statement avowing commitment to the defense of South Korea, which should be commended.  The Obama administration is urging restraint.  However, why is the U.S. not putting pressure on the Chinese to restrain the North Koreans?  And how would America respond if a foreign nation fired artillery onto the homeland?  

Perhaps the fight to pass healthcare reform left the president with no political capital to effectively fight these battles.  Regardless of that fact, I hope Obama chooses to take the gloves off and actually fight.  After the "shellacking" Democrats took in this year's mid-terms, Obama is probably looking too far ahead to 2012 when he should be worrying about effectively governing in the here and now.

1 comment:

  1. This is the same problem with Obama I've always had. He's a fantastic speaker, I'll give him that, and he SAYS things with such conviction to make you believe it... but when the time comes to ACT, he's far too wishy-washy. I feel like Obama's spent a lot of his time as president trying too hard not to make anyone mad and, in doing so, has ticked everyone off. Not quite a liberal, not quite a conservative, not quite a moderate... just a weenie.