Point of View Columns

The “Failure” of the Obama Administration

What do Donald Trump, Cornel West, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Tavis Smiley have in common? When it comes to any analysis or judgment about the Obama Administration they drift into a fact-free universe where they can criticize without consequence. It is certainly the right of these men to wander in a world of fantasy, but when they presume to lead and influence close to a third of a billion people they become downright dangerous.

In using the word “failure” or inferring it, Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio and Smiley would have anyone who would listen believe that there has been little or nothing of value about the seven years of President Obama’s tenure. Trump, Cruz and Rubio, true to the Teapublican mantra over the past seven years, have played the role of truth deniers when it comes to the 44th president because that suits their political ambitions.

Professor West and Mr. Smiley approach President Obama in a slightly different and bizarrely nuanced fashion. By referring to him as a “lap dog”, damning him as not being a “revolutionary” and claiming that insofar as black people are concerned he has been a terrible president, these black men seem to find some noble purpose in demeaning and degrading the legacy of the first African American President of the United States, even though facts serve as sharp pins in their hot air balloons.

Here are some facts regarding the so-called “failure” of the Obama Administration:

• When Barack Obama took office in January of 2009 we were witness to the not so slow motion collapse of the global financial universe. Major banks (Washington Mutual, for example) and major investment banking firms (Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, for example) virtually evaporated before our eyes. Shares of Citibank were selling for less than a dollar and the deaths of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford Motor Company were presumed to be imminent.

• In the first six months of 2009 Americans were losing their jobs at a monthly rate of 750,000 and the national unemployment rate was 9% and rising fast.

• Fully implementing the Troubled Asset Protection Program (TARP) the Obama Administration stabilized a financial services industry that was tottering from self-inflicted wounds. That financial services industry is now robust and achieving historic profits. There is no one on Wall Street who has been cashing fat bonus checks over the past seven years or the owner of shares in a major bank who honestly believes that the Obama Administration is a “failure”.

• Providing leadership that led to the passage of the $819 billion Stimulus Package, the Obama Administration literally rescued the American auto industry as well as the related industries resulting millions of jobs being saved.

• There have now been 70 consecutive months of private sector job growth creating 14 million jobs. The unemployment rate is now 5% and last year the automobile industry sold over 17 million vehicles – an historic record. There are 14 million Americans with newly created jobs who could argue with the Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio, Smiley team when they talk about the “failure” of the Obama Administration. And the same can be said for the still employed auto workers who are riding the crest of an historic industrial wave in their industry.

• The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has provided healthcare to over 17 million Americans who didn’t have healthcare. We should ask the Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio, Smiley team to speak to the parents of a sick child who now has care thanks to Obamacare and ask them about “failure”. And Professor West and Mr. Smiley should take special care to note that Obamacare has resulted in major improvements in the health of the national black community – another “failure” in their eyes one can be sure.

• The Obama Administration led the push to pass the Dodd-Frank Act, an historic re-regulation of the financial services industry. The most comprehensive legislation of its type since the Glass-Steagall Act during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (presumably another “failure” in on the Planet Trump-West-Cruz-Rubio-Smiley).

• President Obama has issued historic executive orders aimed at dismantling the system of mass incarceration that has imprisoned millions of Americans and eviscerated black communities throughout this country. Another “failure” only in the eyes of those who refuse to see.

This is not to suggest that there have not been mistakes and shortcomings on the record of the Obama Administration. But to suggest that it is a “failure” is to ignore facts and deny both history and the facts.

In a world of ordinary people, there are less than extraordinary people who seem to believe that they can change history by denying it. But when history books are written a century from now, Barack Obama will be recognized as an historic icon while Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio and Smiley will be footnotes to footnotes –and that will be one more thing that they will have in common

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 20, 2012

There is now some legroom in the Teapublican Clown Car, better known as the Republican presidential nomination contest. With the departure of John Huntsman and Rodeo Rick Perry the last clowns standing are named Newt, Rick, Mitt and Ron (it is impossible to make this stuff up). What is clear from watching the most recent South Carolina debate is that reality, logic, common sense and decency have been deported from the G.O.Tea Party leaving us to wonder “what now?” every time one of the remaining candidates opens his mouth.

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

During the past year Congressman Ron Paul poll numbers have been at a steady 20% of Republican voters. That means that 20% of the Teapublican Party thinks that it would be a good idea to dismantle the Federal Reserve System collapsing the world economy in the process. It also means that 20% of Teapublicans think that the federal government is the “enemy” and should be dismantled. That would be the same federal government that inspects our food, safeguards the air and waterways, provides border defense and regulates air, rail and highway traffic while supporting education and healthcare.

It also means that 20% of Teapublicans are not appalled, shocked or offended by the fact that Mr. Paul’s weekly newsletter has for over two decades spewed racist rants as a matter of course. Mr. Paul disavowed the newsletters that bear his name which is like a bank robber pleading innocent even though his fingerprints are all over the safe.

That fully a fifth of the G.O.Tea Party stalwarts have no problem with this racially flawed candidate speaks volumes about the Teapublican concept of race relations and equity in the 21st century.

We need to listen.

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

In the aftermath of the Costa Concordia cruise line disaster in Italy there has been endless analysis and commentary about how such a horrible accident could happen. It appears that there was an avalanche of human error that has brought about death and destruction.

It might be useful to keep in mind that at any point of the day there are hundreds of cruise ships sailing on oceans around the world. That the tens of thousands of passengers arrive safely after enjoyable voyages is not due to luck or good fortune. Rather it is the presence of international and national regulations that serve to protect the passengers and ships.

So the next time a G.O.Tea Party zealot starts to proclaim the sanctity of “market forces” and that there is no need for government regulation of business practices think about how you would feel if your child was riding on an unregulated railroad or your mother was flying in an unregulated airplane. You may also think about how you would feel sitting down to a family meal consisting of uninspected food.

It may give you second thoughts about arguments against government regulation of business practices.

The Business of Government is Business

President Calvin Coolidge is quoted as having said “the business of government is business”. While there is no reason to think that he meant it literally there are many members of the business community, especially G.O.Tea Party zealots who believe that the only thing that government should do is help the wealthy get wealthier.

While wealth is a condition that most would embrace, not everyone is prepared to trample the rights, concerns and conditions of their fellow citizens in its pursuit. Nevertheless, when Mitt Romney contends that he will “not apologize for being successful”; few will question how he came by his enormous wealth. For members of the Teapublican Party success needs no explanation or defense.

It is, therefore, puzzling to say the least, to hear Mr. Romney and his Three Amigos castigate and criticize President Obama for his “bailout” of General Motors which just yesterday regained its position as the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. This is an amazing story since G.M. was pounding on death’s door less than three years ago.

President Obama’s policies saved a great American corporation, saved hundreds of companies that supply G.M. and saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. If indeed the “business of government is business” and President Obama saved a huge business and many more, how could he be wrong?

The answer is that on the Planet Teapublican Barack Obama has never done anything right.

Now that this is clear we can’t wait to ask Mitt, Ron, Rick and Newt – would they really have let G.M. disappear into bankruptcy as president?

Have a great weekend and remember November 6th

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