Does Obama Compromise Too Much?

December 6, 2010  |  

I have come to learn that there’s a delicate line to cross when criticizing President Obama’s policies.

To an Obama loyalist, too much criticism would give the appearance of being an “Obama Hater” instead of a critical thinker. In some ways, I can certainly understand—with republicans and some blue dog democrats doing anything possible to derail his policies, I too feel quite a bit of sympathy.

But having said that, I sometimes worry that I have given the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt in times that call for a more objective analysis. That’s not to say I’ve embraced every idea and shut my mouth on ideas that I didn’t agree with to appease the choir of Obama loyalists, because I most certainly haven’t. But after hours of useless bickering, I have learned to consider all angles of the president’s choices and repress my dissent for the sake of non-argument.

Though recently, I have come to find it harder to rationalize away a lot of his policies and politics. Every attempt to look at them from various angles has only drawn me back to the same question: what the heck are you doing Mr. President?

For instance, last Friday the administration announced Obama’s first pardons of his presidency, which mostly centered on a troop of nine small-time felons, who (barely) did their time long ago. Now I was expecting a full pardon of Mumia, however I surely didn’t see the need to waste his clemency power on a coin manipulator and other minor ex-felons, who spent a total of 2 years in actual prison. Besides sending a message about the errors of the judicial system, the pardons felt hallow and safe, which seems to be a recurring theme in Obama’s presidency.

While these pardons are irrelevant to the greater issues the country is currently facing, they do illustrate the dismay of folks who are growing weary about the fickleness of the administration, as well as its inability to stand on the principles that got him elected to office in the first place.

But you can see its been difficult for the president to do that since Republicans and some blue dog Democrats have dug in their heels in on issues such as no tax hikes for the rich—no matter how much it strains government finances, while he fights to maintain the current middle class tax cuts and extend the recently lost unemployment benefits for 4 million people.

There has to be some type of compromise. But how do you do that when the republicans are blatantly promising a lame-duck session and vowing to do everything in their power to “defeat Obama?”

The more President Obama keeps trying to meet “in the middle,” the more the Republicans continue to redefine the line of where the middle will lay. Because of the Republicans’ strong, unified negotiating tactics, and the Obama administration’s lack thereof, Obama’s political agenda ends up mimicking the far right agenda of his predecessor instead of the progressive “Yes We Can” ideology of his campaign.

It makes you wonder what was the point of compromising, when in the end, you still stand to lose the farm?

However, when faced with a no-win situation, sometimes you have to fight, or at the least speak up, if anything to show your weary base that the principles you ran on weren’t just a bunch of empty rhetoric.

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

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