The 10 Obama Policies and Failures That Make Us Angriest
US President Barack Obama speaks in Washington, DC on January 17, 2014
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So, on the eve of his SOTU, the editorial staff at AlterNet brings you a list of Obama "bads"— a list of 10 areas where Mr. Obama has made us most mad, frustrated and disgusted. We wish he would both address these topics head on in his SOTU, and then do everything in his power to mobilize people to get things done. There is still time for our 44th president to show some mettle. There is time to get beyond the talk, stop catering to the corporate interests who still believe in cutting budgets, stop shrinking Social Security, and stop screwing the large majority of Americans in the name of dividends and profits—and become a true populist.
1. Obama's caver-in-chief leadership style
When Obama ran for president in 2008, some thought a refreshing aspect of his candidacy was his potential management style. Unlike the Bush administration, which ruled by dictates—like its war of choice in Iraq—Obama was a mediator who would bridge the gap between liberals and conservatives. Obama offered a mediator's promise. It was not, "We won, we rule." Instead it was a pledge to find common ground.
Sadly, this management style has mostly failed in Washington. During Obama's first five years, many of his biggest domestic disappointments have come from negotiating with Republicans and with private interests who never had any intention of compromising or working in good faith. Perhaps the only memorable thing that former Sen. John Edwards said in his 2008 campaign was his critique of Obama’s style: "You cannot negotiate with political thugs."
But Obama's inclination to try to satisfy all factions has lead to the key disasters of his presidency. The budget battles with the House GOP—and the tactical error he made about GOP thinking—lead to the cruel federal sequester and subsequent government shutdown. His decision not to push for a public option in Obamacare and his failure to insist on cost controls for private health plans are two others. It’s sad that being a reasonable person in today’s Washington often doesn’t work. A less charitable interpretation is that Obama just wimped out. The hard truth is that a president has to be feared and respected by his opponents, not seen as a person who is more willing to compromise than draw lines.