Saturday, January 23, 2010

All hat and no cattle

I came across this amusing epithet used to describe President Obama. My son met him when he was junior Senator for Illinois. He told me that he was much more impressed by the Senior Senator.

I suppose one must look back over Obama's first year and give marks out of ten. Certainly no higher than 6. From the point of view of the Democrats he has not delivered on many of his promises. Guantanamo Bay is still a prison. There are more troops in Afghanistan. The Palestinian question is still an unsolved problem. From a Republican viewpoint he has been worse. He has attempted to railroad Healthcare legislation, at least partially in secret, against popular resistance. Iran looms as a bigger threat than before. Government has continued to grow. Pork has been high on the agenda.

I find it hard to understand why Europe was so in love with him. In part it was because of his color. There is no doubt that America has had a disgraceful reputation as far as racism is concerned. Late in freeing the slaves and even when a terrible war ended slavery, a sort of pseudo-slavery persisted, especially in the South. Although many European countries continue to exhibit racial prejudice, more is expected of America, so the election of a half-black President was seen as a triumph. Obviously the Nobel peace prize was awarded to America because it had accomplished this. We still await a German Chancellor of Turkish extraction or a French President from Algiers. And so far no Afro-Caribbean British Prime Minister, though we have managed a female one.

The other thing that commended Obama to Europe was that he wasn't Bush. Iraq really offended France and Germany and a good half of the UK. Obama is articulate (though he has a few catch-phrases like "Let me be clear" that suggest that he talks in cliches). Moreover, he verges toward the left in his attitudes (though still to the right of most Europeans). Almost to a man Europe has supported him on health care.

Of course, these are interesting times. The 'downturn' in the economy will take some time to right itself. Several 'wars' or near-wars need sorting out. 24-hour news sniffs out every miss-step and even every stumble over words. Performing well on the international stage requires superhuman acting skill. I'm not sure that even Obama has that. On the other hand you don't have to be perfect, just likable. Ronald Reagan had that; Obama doesn't.


Burke said...

Most outside the US who like Obama do so because he hates America like they do.

Anonymous said...

I'd give him a '1'. And that's for prosecuting the war via drones in Pakistan, and for killing the Somalian pirates.

He has turned from merely annoying to seriously threatening America's economic system.

I know we disagree, but I still assert that the US healthcare system is the best in the world.

I do see that the UK and Canada are FINALLY approving ritxamab for CLL, some 13 years after it was approved for NHL in the US (and immediately available for CLL off-label).

Terry Hamblin said...

But not for everybody.

Rituximab was approved several years ago for NHL here and available (off label) for CLL. It's just that the major insurance company (ie the NHS) wouldn't pay for it. You could get it if you paid for it yourself or if you were insured with BUPA, PPP, BWCA, Norwich Union, or any of the other private insurers. Only about 20% of the population took up the option of private insurance though.