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The Change Agent

Obama in the Oval Office (AP photo)

He promised change, and boy has he delivered.

Looking back over the first 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency, one can't help but be awed by the tectonic shifts he has set in motion, even as he tries to steady a heaving economy.

It's all pretty much exactly what he said he would do, it's just that the scale is bigger than anyone anticipated. His startlingly bold and staggeringly large budget proposals reflect not a change in heart or a new agenda but a clear-eyed recognition of how dramatically off course the country was when he took over, and how thinking small just won't cut it.

His re-engagement with the international community, including a willingness to listen and treat others with respect -- even though we knew it was coming -- is just so different from what we've grown used to that it comes as a profound shock.

And consider that part of what is making the Obama presidency so big is the disproportionately large mess George W. Bush left for him to clean up. Part of what makes it seem so radical is the inevitable tension with a Washington establishment that was either actively or passively complicit in so many of the irresponsible policies that he is now trying to reverse. And part of what makes it so dramatic is that it's inevitably a wrenching process to go from one leader to another who is so diametrically his opposite.

Time and again, we are reminded of how profoundly different Obama is from Bush not just in his politics but in his background, his character, his vision -- and in terms of his thought processes, his cadences, his gut.

In some areas, however, there has been less change than many of us expected, and, as it happens, those are also the areas where Obama has put his presidency at greatest risk. There is no shortage of risk all around, of course. The stakes are enormous, the challenges are great, and there will be many political obstacles to overcome from both the opposition party's leadership and his own.

But it is in his bank bailout plan and his national security posture -- two places where he has seemed to focus more on continuity than on change -- that he may ultimately be the most vulnerable.

Obama's devotion to bailing out banks -- rather than, say, taking them over if they are de facto insolvent -- is tremendously unpopular with the American public as well as with the very economists who most support his policies otherwise. His financial rescue strategy in general has exposed him to charges that his top economic advisers have coopted him into being too soft on the very Wall Street players who caused this mess in the first place. As a result, an angry and well-founded populism perpetually seems just one outrage away.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, meanwhile, Obama has chosen to continue Bush's wars. And while he's done so with changed priorities, there is little sign that either war will end well. And in throwing out some of Bush's more extreme national-security measures (such as torture) but trying to keep others (such as an overly broad state secrets privilege) -- while at the same time insisting on no accountability for the extraordinary breaches of law and morality committed by the previous administration -- Obama risks alienating pretty much everybody.

So will Obama trip up in his next hundred days, or his next thousand? The obvious answer is yes. What's less clear is whether he will learn from his mistakes -- and how damaging they will be to his goals.

One thing he has going for him, however, is that his agenda is so enormous in scope -- his change of course so dramatic -- that even if only a somewhat reduced and modified vision of it actually comes to pass, that would still be a huge accomplishment.

For now, of course, the public is solidly behind him. Lydia Saad writes for Gallup: "As President Barack Obama concludes his first 100 days on the job, Gallup Poll Daily tracking for the week of April 20-26 finds 65% of Americans approving of how he is doing and only 29% disapproving. Obama's average weekly job ratings have varied only slightly thus far, ranging from 61% to 67%.

"The new president's approval rating at the 100-day mark is notable in that nearly all major demographic categories of Americans are pleased with his job performance, as evidenced by approval ratings above the majority level. Only in terms of political and ideological categories does Obama have a significant proportion of detractors; a majority of Republicans and self-described 'conservatives' disapprove of his job performance."

Here's a look at some of the judgments being reached on today's anniversary.

Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post: "There has been nothing tentative about President Obama's first 100 days in office. The defining characteristics of his presidency have been his appetite for leadership, the breadth of his ambitions and his determination to pass his programs in the face of united Republican opposition.....

"He has set in motion so many initiatives -- domestic and international -- that his top advisers know that one of their biggest challenges will be to prevent the many pieces of his agenda from crashing into one another before they can be enacted and begin to work.

"For this fast start he has been rewarded with approval ratings that exceed those of his predecessors -- two in three Americans approve of the job he is doing -- and serious questions about the long-term implications of his multifront agenda."

Washington Post reporter Michael Shear says in a video roundtable: "One of the things that's striking to me is that you can pick any one of these things that President Obama did and, in another era, in another time, when things weren't as active as they were, any one of them might have been a huge story for us that would go on for weeks and weeks."

Scott Wilson writes in The Washington Post that the near-defeat of Obama's stimulus plan in February "has emerged as the seminal learning experience for Obama and his fledgling administration."

The biggest mistake, apparently, was the assumption "made by the president's senior advisers...that a fair number of Republican lawmakers would rally behind the nation's first African American president at a time of crisis, an assessment that proved wrong when only three GOP senators supported the stimulus measure and not a single House Republican followed suit.

"But Obama and his advisers corrected course quickly. Drawing conclusions from a post-mortem analysis that Emanuel conducted of the stimulus battle, senior White House advisers returned to the successful tactics of the presidential campaign, taking the president and his message beyond the Beltway and scaling back his appeals to congressional Republicans. The approach has defined the way he has governed since."

Gerald Seib writes in the Wall Street Journal that "if the first 100 days of President Obama's term have proved anything, it is that he is a hard man to classify. He has confounded, at one time or another, people at just about every spot across the political spectrum. He likes big and activist government, but he isn't a classic liberal. He is more of a social engineer than a guardian of the old welfare state.

"He's phenomenally popular among Democrats, but has found the most support for some of his foreign-policy moves among Republicans. He's pulling combat troops out of Iraq, but more slowly than he once promised -- and at the same time has laid plans to add more troops in Afghanistan than the Bush administration envisioned....

"He sometimes sounds like a protectionist, but so far has acted mostly like a free-trader. He talks a lot about fiscal discipline, yet is overseeing the nation's first trillion-dollar deficits. He's made history as America's first African-American president, yet probably talks less about race than did the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

Jim Rutenberg, Peter Baker and Bill Vlasic write in the New York Times that Obama's approach to the automobile industry crisis was a test of "the boundaries of his activist approach and the acuity of his political instincts. As with so many issues in his action-packed 100 days in office, Mr. Obama confronted choices few of his predecessors encountered. His ongoing intervention in an iconic sector of the economy offers a case study in the education, management and decision-making of a fledgling president."

Among their conclusions: "In terms of leadership style, Mr. Obama at times has seemed like a cross between his two most recent predecessors — intellectually curious, philosophically flexible and eager for input like Bill Clinton, while disciplined, willing to delegate and comfortable with bold decisions like George W. Bush.

"Unlike Mr. Bush, who preferred that his memos be kept to two pages, Mr. Obama has not trusted instinct during the auto-industry crisis so much as conduct a law school-style review of his options. Unlike Mr. Clinton, who was famous for making phone calls late at night without his aides knowing, Mr. Obama generally did not reach out independently to auto executives, union leaders or Congressional allies....

"As with his predecessors, strength at times can be weakness. Mr. Obama’s confidence has been a powerful asset at a time of national anxiety, even as close advisers acknowledge that it risks blinding him to the drawbacks of some decisions. In the end, Mr. Obama is gambling that his judgment is the right one to salvage an industry at the heart of America’s economic self-image."

Gideon Rose writes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: "After 100 days, it seems that President Obama is that rare creature, a responsible gambler. Bill Clinton took large risks personally but not as a policymaker. George W. Bush took lots of risks, but they were reckless and irresponsible ones. Obama is unlike either of his predecessors. Inheriting a dramatically reduced stack of chips, he finds himself with little choice but to bet heavily again and again -- but he is doing so with the odds rather than against them, taking sensible, calculated risks that may well pay off."

The USA Today editorial board writes: "Many crises, predictable and unpredictable, await Obama. At least for today, however, he can take comfort in knowing that he's so quickly and convincingly taken charge of the job that the novelty of his being the nation's first African-American president has largely faded. He's now simply the president, and surveys confirm that most Americans like the tone he has set. On balance, for a president entering office facing the tallest stack of problems in recent times, Obama is off to a promising start."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "Crises, not days, is the first word that comes to mind when we think about the number 100 and Barack Obama’s presidency.

"The list of failed policies and urgent threats bequeathed to him by former President George W. Bush could easily be that long. In his first 14 weeks plus two days, President Obama has made a strong start at addressing many of the most critical ones."

The Washington Post "surveyed an assortment of presidential historians, who arrived at the same conclusion: President Obama, in both the scope of his legislative achievements and the groundwork he has set for future policy changes, has done more in his first 100 days in the White House than any commander in chief since Franklin D. Roosevelt, who entered office in 1933 amid the throes of the nation's last major economic upheaval."

Walter Isaacson wrote: "History will judge that he has been astonishingly successful in his first 100 days. The stimulus package helped push major investment in education and health care and seems to have stemmed the collapse of our economy. His push for education reform is going to have a lasting impact on America's education system. The ability to open up and deal directly with adversaries around the world transforms the way we conduct foreign policy and could lead to important breakthroughs, whether in Cuba or Iran. And he has set a tone that is both open yet also persistent in pursuing his goals."

Ron Chernow wrote: "Across the board, he has signaled a willingness to rethink even deeply entrenched policies. There is a freshness and openness about this administration that is very engaging.... I think that he's been very fearless and not bound by old orthodoxies. I think that the speed with which he changed the policy on stem cell research shows how open he is to new ideas."

Salon asks 21 writers, politicians, activists and economists for their assessment of the Obama presidency so far. There are a lot of "A-" grades, though many give split decisions, like Robert Reich, who gives Obama's budget plan an "A" and his bank bailout an "F".

Michael Tomasky writes in a Guardian op-ed: "George Bush and Dick Cheney wanted an infantile citizenry. In fact they didn't really want citizens, in the sense in which the word is used in political philosophy, at all. Especially after 9/11, they wanted wards of the state....They wanted Americans to be fearful and to need daddy's protection....

"Obama wants people to be citizens. He wants them to play a role in shaping their own destiny. He's not trying to scare anybody. He couldn't anyway. That isn't his thing. He wants people to think. You can hear it in all his speeches – notably, to me, the mid-April Georgetown speech on the economy. He talks up to his audience and not down. He tries to clarify, but he does not try to simplify. He trusts that citizens can hold two concepts, even competing and contradictory ones, in their heads at one time.

"The numbers don't lie. The people, committed conservatives excepted, like being treated as adults for a change."

Time's Joe Klein also calls attention to that same speech: "The combination of candor and vision and the patient explanation of complex issues was Obama at his best — and more than any other moment of his first 100 days in office, it summed up the purpose of his presidency: a radical change of course not just from his predecessor, not just from the 30-year Reagan era but also from the quick-fix, sugar-rush, attention-deficit society of the postmodern age. The speech received ho-hum coverage on the evening news and in print — because, I suspect, it was more of a summation than the announcement of new initiatives. Quickly, public attention turned to new 'tempests of the moment' — an obscene amount of attention was paid to the new Obama family dog and then, more appropriately, to the Bush Administration's torture policy and the probably futile attempt to prosecute those who authorized the practices. And then to a handshake and a smile that the President bestowed on the Venezuelan demagogue Hugo Chávez. These are the soap bubbles of our public life. They have become the hasty, capricious, bite-size way that we experience the world. It has made for slovenly, sandy citizenship."

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 29, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
 
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Next: Recapturing the Campaign Spirit

Comments

Speaking of "wrenching change": have you definitively rejected the idea of going back to the old White House Watch format, with a single long piece each day? (Has anyone actually told you that they like the new format better? Every Froomkin fan -- um, "Froomkie"? -- that I've talked to preferred it before the change.) I feel like my lunchtime ritual has been taken away! Also, I absolutely hate having to see the bizarre, ugly comments that inevitably follow a Washington Post article; it's a disincentive to reading the full posts.

Otherwise: thanks, as ever, for your indispensable work.

Posted by: MyManGodfrey | April 29, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Where's SharpshootingPugilist? Isn't he going to weigh in with his usual knee-jerk, conservative, repugnican "party of NO" response? I always look forward to a good, hearty laugh at his nonsensical diatribes. You've let your "fans" down, SSP!

Posted by: stephenlouis | April 29, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

The first 100 days of Froomkin's coverage of Obama is off to a great start, and no day's blog more impressive than this one, summing up the major points in a nutshell, and providing links to an excellent set of other opinions.

Posted by: rjoff | April 29, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Real reform and real change will only happen if the media grow up, ditch the "controversary-based" model and stop defending entrenched corporate and political interests both actively and passively.
They defend those interests by not critically investigating their claims. When was the last time you read a WaPo piece on how people in countries with national health care like their systems?

Posted by: bdunn1 | April 29, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Tough cookies MyManGodfrey. Not everyone is a lapdog to someone who used to espouse journalistic principles, but now is a yes-man shill to Obama's touted greatness.

Where are the real journalists?? Haven't they learned the lessons from Bush's years to not accept the Administration's word as gospel?? Haven't seen much of it in these first 100 days... just a bunch of fawning and 8-page dedications to someone the press holds up as a monarch.

Posted by: alutz08 | April 29, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm with MyManGodfrey...please at least consider returning to the old format.
Thank you for all the time you take keeping us informed.

Posted by: barefoot_yank | April 29, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"The biggest mistake, apparently, was the assumption "made by the president's senior advisers...that a fair number of Republican lawmakers would rally behind the nation's first African American president at a time of crisis"

This must be what living inside the beltway does to your brain. How can people who ostensibly know politics like the back of their hand make such a careless error in judgment? There was absolutely no sign whatsoever that they would get any cooperation from the right, which is why it was so irritating to watch the GOP being courted as if they hadn't already turned into the party of obstructionists.

Oh well, what's past is prologue. I just hope those "senior advisers" now see clearly that most of their mistakes have involved giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt in one way or another. Otherwise we'll have a live action Charlie Brown play with the GOP pulling the football away *just* before Obama can kick it... over, and over, and over again.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 29, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd give him an "F" on the bank bailout, an "F" on his economic team, and an "F" on following the law in regards to the WH-DOJ relationship, international/US law regarding torture, and the proper application (if any) of the "state secrects" ruling. I'd give him an "A" on pretty much everything else, with an "I" (incomplete) on agriculture and "clean coal."

Posted by: dickdata | April 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Bush's approval rating at 100 days was 60%. Look at what rating is given to our Democrat Congress. It is in the pits. Wonder why? Could it be they are mortgaging our children and grandchildren's future for years to come? Could it be that one day soon a loaf of bread will cost $10 because the only way we can get this debt paid is by inflating it away. America you better wake up and see what is being taken away from you by this glib speaking president.

Posted by: Carolina3 | April 29, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the MyManGodfrey, my lunch time ritual is not the same.

Really and truly agree with bdunn1. No matter what the complaints of, say, the UK or Canadian health care model, would the majority in those countries leave their health care system for one like in the US?
No, I don't believe they would.

US health insurance is like paying cover at a nightclub; gets you in the door, but there on end, you pay. And the bouncer (aka health insurance companies) dictates what drinks to buy.

I'd much rather pay into an universal system have it ready for my needs. Also, I would prefer that anyone who wishes can start their own businesses, without worrying about health care for themselves and their families. I'd rather my employer not have to negotiate with for-profit company to provide me a service I may have no choice but use someday.

What we have here is slavery to the health insurance companies.

Posted by: diahann1 | April 29, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

You must be a very happy man, Mr. Froomkin. Your adjectives: startingly and staggeringly attest to the zeal with which you write. I honestly don't think you could pen an article about asparagus without beating up on Bush. You bet there is a change between Bush and Obama. Incalcuable. Europe likes Obama because he is one of them. Chavez, rightly ignored by Bush, loves Obama as do other dictators and thugs, likewise ignored by Bush. Obama is respected by the Taliban and al Qaeda, because Bush knocked the 'H' out of them. No, there was no tortue. No, Bush did not lie about WMD. Yes, Bush and Obama are from different backgrounds:Obama from hoodlum Chicago; Bush from normal America. Why don't you, Joe Klein, E. Robinson, Leahy, Waxman and Pelosi stand up and shout, shout: "Thank God Obama released the CIA interrogation memos. Now, we can indict and punish those who honestly strove to protect America!" Tell that to the figures (and their famalies) you watched leaping from the Towers, to their deaths, with arms and legs frantically failing, in order to escape vaporization and inceneration like their 3,000 co-workers. Your supportive list of writers and publications at the end of your article (with the exception of the WSJ) reads like a "who's who" list from Leninville and Marxville.

Posted by: david-mckenzie | April 29, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Dan -

I like your new format - it allows you to "dribble out" your posts throughout the morning/early afternoon, rather than forcing us to wait until all of your posts are completed before you post it all at once.

Continue speaking truth to power - especially on issues like the "state secrets" privilege. If one of your tasks with White House Watch is to keep a presidential administration honest, your job should be MUCH easier with this administration than with the previous one.

Posted by: Buster3 | April 29, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"Yahooo!" Or do I mean "Google!?" "One page" to view in a day's "White House Watch" does a lot for me--and for many others, I'm sure. Now I hope we won't have to go to different "pages", back/forth on our computers, along with the subject-matter, when a simple change of byline or a new paragraph could do the same. Those dreaded days of Cheney--the neo-con/neo-Nazi leader--and Bush (the obedient-follower, President of the U.S.A.) are gone: the cat-box they left us is rather full of what #43&Co. put into our lives (to satisfy their egos) and can't be entirely cleaned at once. But at least someone took over who has a distaste for the Republican administrative personnel and quasi-"achievements" that were first created by the infamous Nixon-administrations--especially Cheney & Rummy, who continued honing their deviant American political ways behind the back of Gerald Ford. Fortunately, the American electorate is now smarter/younger than most thought it would be, as we view the demise of ethics/numbers of Republicans in the federal government. Watch the federal elections of November, 2010; you may see a wholesale housecleaning of the Republican Party from the federal legislatures. I'll cheer.

Posted by: marc85 | April 29, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The Taliban has been regaining territory and encroaching on Islamabad (capital of Pakistan, if you didn't know), mckenzie. And al-Qaeda has maintained its existence in the mountains of that region, untouched by our unrelated adventure in Iraq (which led to the founding of a whole new terrorist branch, al-Qaeda in Iraq). Tell us, how is this beating the h out of them? (To say nothing of the recruitment bonanza our invasion, and torture of suspects, has provided the terrorists.)

Yup, Bush & Cheney certainly presided over an effective, multi-pronged offensive against global terror. Treat our terrorist enemies like the sovereign state they're not, invade somebody else completely different, and blame it all on Clinton! Or Obama now that he's in office.

As for foreign policy in general, the first round of overtures is now complete. What stances Obama takes with each separate country, and what proceeds from there, remain to be seen. Something tells me, though, he won't prove quite the coddler to dictators that conservatives like you so wish him to be.

Posted by: whizbang9a | April 29, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see Froomkin really stretch himself and get both of the two sentiments he is capable of expressing in the same article: Bush bashing and Obama worship.

Posted by: bobmoses | April 29, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

There would have been some significant changes had any of the Democratic candidates been elected president. The Democratic agenda of higher taxes for the rich, higher government spending for social programs, expanded health care starkly contrasts with the Republican agenda of lower taxes for the rich, reduced government spending for social programs and opposition to government financed expansion of health care.

Obama's rhetoric has been quite different in foreign policies than Bush, especially until Gates replaced Rumsfeld. However, actions are more important than mere talk. There has been more overall continuity than change in Obama's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The decision, as expected, by the Obama administration to end torture practices is unfortunately substantially undermined by the refusal to prosecute torture, human rights abuses, violations of the Constitution during the previous administration.

Hardly anyone in this country cares about high deficits, but they will probably contribute to significant inflation within a few years. The sharply rising national debt may hinder long-term economic growth, especially when interest rates noticeably increase within a couple years.

A president's performance during his/her first hundred days is mostly a media obsession, unless there are solid, lasting accomplishments comparable to those during the first term of FDR. One needs to wait three or four years to fairly evaluate Obama's overall record as president.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 29, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I can only imagine Froomkin in his room, partially clothed, giggling like a schoolgirl as he lights the candles in front of his sacred Obama poster. After lathering up in Obama oil, he falls into an Obama trance and writes away. I mean how else could he come up with this unadulteratd crap?

Posted by: mmourges | April 29, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Carolina3 where have you been the last 8 years? Did you notice what Bush did to the budget, the environment, the standing of the US in the world, etc.etc.? ab

Posted by: jimsbier | April 29, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Dan -- with all due respect, what in the hell are you talking about???

Change???

You talk about all this "change" but then you list a whole slew of areas where Obama is following in Bush's footsteps! You cannot have it both ways Dan...

1) Iraq: still there, now we're talking about extending deadlines for troop withdrawal. No change -- hell, it's worse.

2) Afghanistan: still there, now we're talking about sending 21,000 troops there with no game plan, no exit strategy and little support from our allies. No change -- hell, it's worse.

3) Bailout: still happening, and we're still spending on banks who turn around and screw the consumer with fewer loans and higher fees. No transparency, the Fed running amok and no end in sight. No change here -- hell, it might be worse.

4) State secrets privilege: still using it to stifle the truth and protect corruption & criminality. DOJ still arguing that detainees in Afghanistan have no habeas corpus rights... don't see much change here -- they are still using Bush's game plan.

5) Spending: Obama is still spending like a drunken sailor -- even increasing defense spending despite his rhetoric. Just like Bush before him, Obama has no compunction about running up record deficits. For those who are shallow enough, word of $100 million in cuts might suggest fiscal discipline, but that really was: an empty symbolic gesture.

Should I go on? For anyone looking at the ACTIONS of this Adminstration rather than WORDS -- it is clear to see Obama does not want to veer too far off course for fear of upsetting entrenched hard-liners in the Government.

Posted by: winoohno | April 29, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

The 100 day assessment of President Obama would not amount to more than a media/journalistic exercise, except for the reality of the mess that this president has been compelled to confront - domestically, economically, and in terms of foreign policy.

Example: Today's WP featured an article (buried back on page 8 because of the hysterical response to the swine flu epidemic in Mexico), that addressed the threat that the Taliban poses to the Pakistani government. Most of the Pakistani military forces are deployed to the east, facing off with their traditional rival and avowed enemy (India), while underestimating, or acting in complicity with, the threat in the western territories. Pakistan, as most posters will acknowledge, has a nuclear capability, and which is disturbingly, on the cusp of becoming a failed state.

Former VP Dick Cheney, who insists that the current President has made the US less safe because of selective declassification of classified documents - in this case related to "torture" (and who didn't mind doing the same thing when it was politically expedient during the Bush administration), was a cheerleader for digression of military and intelligence assets in 2003 toward a country and regionally minded dictator who didn't have any operative connection to the 9/11 tragedy. In the meantime, our adventure in Iraq gave both Al Queda and the Taliban breathing room to survive and reconstitute.

The result of Mr. Cheney's certitude of insight has lead to a potential national security crisis that could result in radical Islamic factions gaining access to nuclear devices for use other than the typical justification of their possession for state self-preservation.

So much for the idea that we kicked the "H" out of Al Queda and the Taliban.

Posted by: MillPond2 | April 29, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

George Bush would have taken a vacation by now...

Posted by: Common_Sense_Not_Common | April 29, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

oh david mckenzie and bobmoses, I kant make up my mind between you two, but who neesds to, lets all fall in love and move to Iowa together

Posted by: tniederberger | April 29, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

The American's media propagandistic disinformation that refuses to see the destabilization to international stability Mr. Change has begun. American's allies have learned in the last 100 days that this President's commitment to existing treaties is as reliable as his commitments to positions he has taken his entire "Political Career". He is the personification of Orwell's "doublethink" the ability to hold two contradictory concepts with no sense of conflict.
Obama's breaking of a 42 year old unshakable commitment to Israel while embracing our enemies has sent shudders from India, to Japan, to Taiwan, to Egypt, to Jordan, etc.
Obama is demanding Israel surrender to Arab demands that directly contradict the bases of UN Res. 242 at a time that Iran is emboldened to pursue it's aggression throughout the Middle East. The Obama administration wants Israel to totally surrender to aggressors who have failed to fulfill any of their agreements with Israel. This administrations demand that Israel withdraw to the 1948 Armistice Lines is in direct contradiction to the negotiations of 1967. Res 242 writen by British UN Amb. Lord Caradon specifically states that Israel's military forces should with raw from recently occupied territory to recognized secure borders. These new boarders were to be based on the second section negotiated in peace agreements guaranteeing the the recognition of all nations in the region.
As discussed in numerous wittings by Lord Caradon and US Ambassador supreme Court Justice Arther Goldberg, the 1948 armistice lines were not borders. That Israels position was indefensible and had to be adjusted. There is no mention of a Palestinian state or People because they claim didn't exist then.
Obama's appeasement has led to Iran's attempt to destabilize Egypt, The PLO trained Tamil Tigers who use civilians as human shields in Sri Lanka now being betrayed as victims although their bloody murderers, Turkey is now engaging in military maneuvers with Syria and India and Japan feel the US has abandoned then to N Korea. The PA, Fatah, and Hamas reject a two state solution except for two Arab states. Obama is preparing the world for war.

Posted by: djfeiger | April 29, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

" an angry and well-founded populism perpetually seems just one outrage away."

This is not populism - almost no one outside Wall Street and its paid supporters (which includes many in the administration and in Congress) approves of bailing out financiers. Some Republicans attack Obama for "socialism" for even considering taking banks over but they do not dare publicly support giving taxpayer money to banks.

Posted by: skeptonomist | April 30, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

For more on the paid supporters of Wall Street, see Glenn Greenwald's blog today.

Posted by: skeptonomist | April 30, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

@skeptonomist: "Some Republicans attack Obama for 'socialism'"

Notice how they've cut back on that line lately? The GOP is so thoroughly discredited with the American public that rather than dragging Obama down, their attacks actually improved favorability ratings for the word "socialism" by about 10%.

Comedy gold.

On a related note, I wonder how extreme the djfeigers of the nation will ultimately become as more and more outrages are visited upon their delicate sensibilities. What will happen when their hopes for economic ruin are dashed by a rebound and their ideology is proven wrong yet again? Most of the smart Republicans have already become independents, but will the unhinged 20% start to lash out? I wonder if that had anything to do with the govt's warning about potential danger from right wing fringe groups.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 30, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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