The Worst Things Obama Can Do
President Barack Obama is certainly off to a good start. In his first days in office, Obama reversed some of the most destructive policies of the Bush administration -- closing CIA black sites, banning torture and promising to shut down Guantanamo within a year.
Progressives -- indeed, most of the country -- are rightly applauding Obama's pointed break with the politics of the Bush years. But amidst the celebration, it's imperative that progressives keep pressuring Obama to make good on his promise of real, long-term change as he grapples with the multiple crises confronting the nation.
Last week, AlterNet published Obama on the Precipice: The Ten Worst Things He Could Do When He Takes Over, outlining the 10 biggest mistakes Obama can make while in office: From buckling to Republican pressure on the stimulus package to escalating the war in Afghanistan; from continuing the occupation of Iraq to compromising on universal health care and continuing the destructive, so-called war on drugs.
Our readers had much to say about how Obama should take on the problems facing the nation.
Many readers point out that Obama has a very small window of opportunity to help right the economy.
Mmckinl says bluntly:
We don't have two to four years to fix the economy ... Obama will get one, maybe two chances to right the ship. The longer he, takes the deeper the hole we will have to crawl out of.
If Obama doesn't at least stabilize the economy, he will be bait for the Jeb Bush Push for the presidency. Bet on it.
kegbot1 agrees, pointing out:
"Him who would not be named" is waiting in the wings, no doubt grinning. I hope we're wrong on that. Obama has six months at best before this country completely slips into another Great Depression. Yes kids, it's that bad.
Opivy writes that the financial crisis may actually present an opportunity for Obama and other Democrats to abandon so-called centrism:
I would bet virtually everything I have that Obama will do every one of these things. If a financial crisis of this magnitude, coupled with two wars, can't snap Obama and the rest of the Dems of out DLC-style centrism -- absolutely nothing will.
Other commenters pointed out that the ideology of "centrism" is a cover for conservatism and political cowardice:
For most politicians, writes pdxjoe, "...'centrism' is another word for liberal conservatism."
SalB counters "And isn't that an oxymoron?"
One would think so, but as gnaw_bone points out, it is an oxymoron that so-called liberals have consistently embraced:
"Centrism" is nothing more than a literary pat on the head to dismiss anyone who advocates liberal ideas. It is pure garbage. It also is the reason why I will forever regret Bill Clinton having been president.
Racetoinfinity also points to the consequences of Clintonian triangulation and begs Obama to avoid that path:
I just want thank you for this post and re-emphasize that so-called Clintonian centrism is a fraud, and its DLC neoliberal triangulation is really a full accommodation to right-wing, moneyed, elite interests, a collusion and joining with them against the people's interests. We got NAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall (a major cause of the current great depression), American exceptionalist thinking, refusing to hold Bush and Co. criminally accountable for their anti-Constitutional crimes, and so on. Obama: Please don't go down that road to be a conventional Bilderberg Group "success'' -- it's the same wrong retrograde way we've been going since 1980 (going backwards to conformist competitive individualism and/or resisting moving up the spiral to neo-communitarianism [a new "trans-socialism" -- really an interdependent "integralism" containing full individuality [independence], and/but aware of the transcendent connection of all to all -- our planetary interdependence, a necessary awareness now, sooner than we had thought, perhaps].
Many commenters shared their vision of what Obama should (and shouldn't) do in order to move Democrats away from Clintonian triangulation and in a progressive direction:
Monkeywrench points out that our corporate-owned, biased media is direly in need of heavy-handed reform:
What Obama needs to do for No. 11 on the list is work with the FCC to return honesty in reporting to the news and develop punishments for any serious, outright lying that is discovered in news broadcasts. The First Amendment does not apply in slander and libel, and the American public has the right to receive honest and accurate reporting free of politically motivated omissions.
RevolutionNet writes that Obama can't move forward without confronting America's past:
For President Obama to allow the human filth of the Bush administration to escape punishment for what they've done to our nation and our world.
"If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we'll guarantee that they will happen again." Paul Krugman
And Gracchus calls on Obama to take a sane approach to Cuba:
It is time … to end the embargo and normalize relations with Cuba.
While it is too soon to tell how Obama intends to grapple with these difficult and politically sensitive issues, one thing is clear, beandang says:
No doubt about it, it will be interesting to see what Obama does. Anything he does will surely be better than the nothing Dictator Bush has done over the last eight years. Good riddance to the Bush regime!