Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The First Week of President Obama: Quick, Dull, and Authoritarian

It is too early to evaluate President Barack Obama, because it is just a week since he was inaugurated on January 20. Despite this, I would like to mention some job performances by Obama.

The New President is quick to overturn policies by his predecessor, Former President George W. Bush. However, Obama is too dull to respond crisis that requires US commitment. On the other hand, it seems to me that President Obama tries to control opinions and thoughts in order to precede his change.

Just as I mentioned in a previous post, Barack Obama was quick to nominate his cabinet staff. Few presidents were so bold to reverse their predecessors at such an early stage. Obama has announced to close Guantánamo terrorist prison (“McCain: Closing Guantanamo Bay is the easy part”; CNN; January 22. 2009), tolerate abortion (“Obama Ends Global Family Planning Restrictions”; NPR; January 23, 2009), and strengthen auto emission standards against global warming (“Obama Issues Orders Toward More Fuel-Efficient Cars”; Washington Post; January 27, 2009 and “Obama counters Bush on auto standards”; Boston Globe; January 27, 2009).

Such quick actions impress that the change has come true, and the New President is a competent chief executive. Hasty reform can bolster his reputation, if everything goes successful. However, it does not seem to be appropriate to reverse everything associated with the Bush legacy. In an interview with CNN on January 22, Obama’s presidential archrival, Senator John McCain, comments that it is easy to apologize for inconveniences caused by the predecessor Bush, and close the prison. However, McCain says that if the prisoner camp were to move into the United States, the administration would face a NIMBY problem. People do not like the “notorious” camp built in their neighborhood. See the video.

On the other hand, Obama was too dull to respond against the Ukrainian crisis. I have mentioned this in the last post. Even though it was just before his inauguration, Barack Obama showed little interest in helping people in Ukraine and Eastern Europe who were intimidated by the fierce Russian bear. They are eager to join NATO and the EU, because they want close ties with the West. Whoever the President is, it is an absolute must to demonstrate “America is always with you!” Pro-American nations in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union crave for such staunch endorsement in their pursuit for post-communist democracy and confrontation with Russian threat.

On such a critical occasion, Barack Obama went on the razzle-dazzle with popular entertainers who need no help from any leaders in the government. It is extremely regretful, and the media should have questioned his behavior, because NATO and EU expansion eastward is a key issue in US foreign policy.

In addition to quick actions and dull responses, it is a must to mention dictatorial remark by the President. Obama warned Republican Senators and Representatives not to listen to Rush Limbaugh, a popular conservative radio personality (“Obama: Quit Listening to Rush Limbaugh if You Want to Get Things Done”; FOX News; January 23, 2009). Barack Obama emphasizes that bipartisan cooperation is necessary for his economic stimulus package.

President Obama’s remark has spurred a controversy, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tries to soothe Republican backlash (“PREZ ZINGS GOP FOE IN A $TIMULATING TALK”; New York Post; January 26, 2009). Meanwhile, Limbaugh caricatured Obama, “Now this is the great unifier. This is the man who's going to unify everybody and usher in a new era of bipartisanship and love.” (“Limbaugh Bristles at Obama Remark”; Washington Post; January 26, 2009)

No one can grade the President now. Though his quick actions are impressive, some remarks and behaviors are problematic. The media must comment them critically. We must not simply hail President Barack Obama, just because he is popular both in the United States and overseas.