Barack Obama 2.0

There were several reasons why people voted for Barack Obama last November.  These reasons include his charisma, his agenda, and the fact that he isn’t George W. Bush/John McCain/Hillary Clinton.  But our newest President is facing some pretty big tests at this point, and relying on the things that got him elected might not be enough to sustain his popularity.

One, he has tapped into Americans’ concerns about the rising costs of health care, and he has stressed the importance of taking care of the uninsured.  Dealing with either of these issues would be nice, but trying to deal with both of them simultaneously seems unrealistic.  You can’t make health care cheaper and extend benefits to more people at the same time unless you cut back on services.  Is that the direction  most people really want to go in?  I almost wrote “Is that direction that Americans can live with” but I didn’t like the unintended pun.

Two, the Obama administration said that if the stimulus plan was passed, unemployment would not rise above 8%.  When unemployment topped that figure, administration officials said it was because the economy was in worse shape than they realized (translation: it’s Bush’s fault).  Okay, but unemployment figures have continued to rise.  Could it be that big spending doesn’t cure a bad economy nowadays any better than it did under FDR in the 1930s?  Government spending didn’t end the Great Depression, World War Two did.

Three, President Obama has advocated a more respectful tone towards Iran and North Korea.  The Iranian government seems to have squashed a democratic movement there, but, really, what did anybody expect the President to do–send troops in?  The first Bush didn’t do that in Eastern Europe (where a democratic movement succeeded) or China (where it didn’t).  But Iran has made clear recently that it won’t end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and its leader is unstable.  And the North Koreans have started shooting rockets towards Hawaii, and their leader is unstable, too.  The respectful tone doesn’t seem to be working.  The President is relying on the United Nations to deal with North Korea, but how often has the UN actually neutralized a threat?  I can think of two times in the last 50+ years (and one of them was North Korea–in the 1950s).

The President is in dire need of some course changes to deal with these growing concerns.  He is a shrewd politician, though, so such changes are not outside the realm of possibility.