On Thursday, April 26, while speaking at New York University about President Obama’s foreign policy, he managed to once again “pull a Biden.” He told the crowd that Obama has a big stick.
In honor of Vice President Biden, here’s something I wrote a little over a year ago about Obama’s big stick.
I keep seeing this poll show up on Facebook: Does Barack Obama deserve a second term as President? The results show an overwhelming lean toward ‘No.’ I’m sure it’s mostly just a combination of Republicans voting their bias and Democrats not happy with what he’s accomplished – or not accomplished as the case may be. And the center, well, who knows what those flip-floppers ever want.
In any case, the lack of facts, basic information and the intentional spreading of misinformation plays a big roll in the ‘No’ decision.
Let me ‘splain…
Here are just some of the things that Obama has accomplished that you may or may not know about:
Reversed 'global gag rule', allowing US aid to go to organizations regardless of whether they provide abortions; Signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco for the first time; Signed New START Treaty – a nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia; Increased average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg to 35.5mpg, starting in 2016; Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which restores basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers (which Republicans, in their war on women, voted against); Provided travel expenses to families of fallen soldiers to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB; Reversed the policy of barring media coverage during the return of fallen soldiers to Dover Air Force Base; Launched recovery.gov to track spending from the Recovery Act, providing transparency and allowing the public to report fraud, waste, or abuse; Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America's Veterans; Signed the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which provides health care to 11 million kids -- 4 million of whom were previously uninsured; Issued executive order to repeal Bush era restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research; Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis; Developed stimulus package, which includes approximately $18 billion for non-defense scientific research and development; Signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop fraud and wasteful spending in the defense procurement and contracting system; Ended Bush administration's CIA program of 'enhanced interrogation methods' by requiring that the Army field manual be used as the guide for terrorism interrogations; Established Credit Card Bill of Rights, preventing credit card companies from imposing arbitrary rate increases on customers; Health Care Reform Bill, preventing insurance companies from denying insurance because of a pre-existing condition; Health Care Reform Bill, allowing children to remain covered by their parents' insurance until the age of 26; Tax cuts for up to 3.5 million small businesses to help pay for employee health care coverage; Expansion of Medicaid to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level; Significantly increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act (which Republicans, in their war on women, voted against); Lifted restrictions granting Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island; Eliminated subsidies to private lender middlemen of student loans and protect student borrowers; Significantly expanded Pell grants, which help low-income students pay for college; Expanded hate crime law in the US to include sexual orientation through the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; Appointed nation's first Chief Technology Officer; Signed financial reform law establishing a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to look out for the interests of everyday Americans; Cut prescription drug cost for Medicare recipients by 50%; Provided $12.2 Billion in new funding for Individuals With Disabilities Education Act; Extended Benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees; Appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in US history; Repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’; Created more private sector jobs in 2010 than during entire eight Bush years; Appointed first Latina to the US Supreme Court; killed or captured more terrorists in 3 years than all 8 years of the Bush administration; oversaw the execution of Osama bin Laden by the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group. There’s more, but I think I made my point.
Some of these things you may think are not good. You would be wrong. Some of these things Republicans fought hard to stop (Even things that were their own ideas.). They would be dicks. Tiny, little, fascist dicks. For the most part, it’s that some think he’s gone too far and others not far enough. Well, you can’t please everyone.
Now, Obama may not play dress-up in flight suits, pretending to fight for this country while actually dodging that responsibility (With a Vietnam War-length dentist appointment.) which I see as an insult to real heroes. He may not make bold, yet infantile statements about wars and terror and being with us or against us. He doesn’t put his name on refund checks that are re-taxed but fool you into thinking you got a refund while also doing nothing to boost the economy. He doesn’t boast and brag about things that are really lies but when repeated enough are believed to be true.
What he does is act like an adult. An educated, intelligent, thoughtful person. Not pretending to do things and yelling from the highest mountaintop that he did something. No. He actually does things. And that’s the problem. He doesn’t boast and brag, so no one knows what he’s doing. Instead of a big check with his name on it that looks like he gave you money personally, he reduced a little of the taxes that come out of your paycheck – only a few dollars per paycheck, but it's something - only not tell you and it does actually boost the economy. Most people need to be screamed at to hear anything. And Obama’s measured, calm manner doesn’t get across to those people. I estimate that’s about 85% of the country. So, almost everyone across the board, left, center, right, is disappointed with what they think he has or hasn’t accomplished so far.
Many things I think Obama has been spineless about. Por ejemplo, I would like to have seen a public option in the health care reform and Guantanamo closed and for him to not have given Boehner “98% of what [he] wanted,” but hey. What can ya do? Democrats by default have no balls. So, when their opener is always to capitulate, you kind of roll with that gut-punch and wait for the Republicans to take it to the ludicrous far right extreme and everyone finally says, heywaitaminit. Then it ends up being what the Republicans wanted originally. (Sort of mini tangent.)
Here’s what I think he’s doing. Being the first black President, coupled with being a Democrat, puts him in a most precarious position. If he tries anything too radical, he won’t get a second term. So, he has to balance getting things done with not making too much of a scene – very difficult when battling relentless, racist Republicans who want to control every aspect of your life, grow the size of the government, and take all your money and give it to rich people and the complacent, lazy Democrats who do nothing because they think everything will sort itself out, like, eventually, man (In a battle between fascist militants and docile hippies, who do you think would most likely win? – micro tangent). I think when he gets re-elected (Face it – Romney-Bot 3000 reprograms itself every time it speaks to a new crowd, so it actually has no defendable stance on anything. Other than “Well, he’s not Obama,” why would you vote for a self-preserving lie machine?), we’re going to see a man transformed by the removal of re-election fears. I believe many good changes are ahead.
Once he’s re-elected, he can get the things done he wants to get done. And no, it’s not a secret, socialist, Athiest, Muslim, Marxist, Nazi plan. The only thing he has to worry about is fucking up the country so motherfucking bad that he destroys any chance for his party to win the next election and drives everyone to vote a black guy into office. Or in his case, the next step may be a woman. Maybe even a black woman. Black, gay woman, even?
But for now, he’s speaking softly and carrying a big stick. He will go far.
I still hope.