Is Obama a mature, responsible President?

It was a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t remember his name or the name of his book, but I heard a guy on evening talk radio, on NPR, say that Obama has made a big political mistake by not blaming the weak economy on George W. Bush.

According to this author, Franklin Roosevelt constantly reminded Americans that he inherited a mess that Herbert Hoover’s policies had created.

He always framed his initiatives as efforts to clean up the mess made by Hoover.

The joke was, he said, that Roosevelt ran against Hoover four times.

By contrast, Obama has not even mentioned George Bush’s name since he took office.

It’s hard to believe that this is true. Certainly he’s said “President Bush” at least once in the past eleven months.

I’ve heard Obama say that he inherited this mess, but I don’t recall hearing him say Bush’s name or refer to him at all. Whether or not such an observation is accurate, the spirit of what he said is very true.

Obama has paid a price, because he’s allowed Republicans to blame him for a lot of problems that he did not create and has tried to fix.


Certainly there are political reasons. He is showing respect for the office he now inhabits and lets other people in his party do the dirty work.

But it might also be an intentional effort to usher in the age of responsibility he has spent much time talking about.

Politics is inherently irresponsible. Republicans blame Clinton, Johnson, Kennedy, and even Roosevelt for many of the problems we face today.

When the economy thrived under Clinton, Republicans gave credit to Reagan. When the economy lost jobs under George W. Bush, Republicans blamed Clinton.

As a liberal Democrat, I blame Bush and Reagan for many of the problems we have today.

Jimmy Carter inherited a terrible economy.  It got worse.  He blamed the American people.

In politics, blame is the name of the game.

Perhaps Obama wants to play it different.

The economic collapse happened during Bush’s presidency, and all the economists predicted recovery would take years, not months — regardless of who was elected President.

Nobody was certain what would happen or what measures would work — and it’s clear Obama is trying. I trust our President and think he will succeed, but hasn’t had enough time yet.

But it seems that politics is inherently immature. Blame the other side for all problems.

If something is not true, then simply change the facts.

Reagan exploded the deficit while saying that government spending was the root of all our problems.  Bush did the same.

They blamed the Democrats for “taxing and spending,” while they taxed and spent more than Democrats.

At one point, the Bush administration actually had the majority of Americans thinking that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. Not true — but the truth didn’t matter. I had conversations with folks who said that inaccuracy was a matter of opinion.

I’m sure many people think Obama is responsible for the economic collapse that took place before he became President. In the next election, the year of the collapse could become a matter of opinion.

We all know, however, that we cannot change the past. We can only do something today, take responsibility for it, and thereby take responsibility for creating the future.

This seems to be Obama’s perspective.

He doesn’t attack the opposition or blame Bush. He even tries to create bipartisan activity in Congress — even though Republicans will have no part of that.

Am I naive, or is this a sign of maturity and responsibility — Obama trying to practice what he preaches?

I never took Economics

full moon
full moon

This morning I watched some business news on TV. There was a good bit of talk about the recession ending.

I went to a lunch meeting. More talk of the recession ending.

Problem was, nobody was doing much business.

This afternoon, I called on a few retail businesses. A furniture store was calling it quits at the end of the week. A few others were hanging on by a thread.

This evening, on the way home, I listened to Ivy League economists talk about the recession. People are really hurting, they say. People are losing everything — but it’s almost over.

Even when it is over, they said, there are serious problems that have nothing to do with this recession. Health care. A huge shift of wealth to the top. The real problems began in 1980.

One guy called in to the radio and said his father was a librarian who earned enough to own two cars, take vacations, and send several children to college — while his wife stayed home and worked as a full-time mom.

It probably won’t be like that again.

A woman called. She just graduated from college and got a job that pays 30k per year. She lives at home and feels pretty trapped. She owes 40k for her education. Not that much, compared to many.

Here’s what I gather from all of this. It may be almost over. In fact, it may be over. But things won’t get better until consumers resume consuming. And — they won’t start buying stuff if they are afraid they will lose their jobs.

People are still losing jobs, but not as many.

When people feel safe about their jobs, they’ll start buying, and business will improve for everybody.

The stock market is great, but Main Street is all about jobs, fear, and hope.

Still, when it gets better, it won’t be that great.

That said — my wife fixed a really nice dinner and I took a pleasant, late-night walk with my dog.

I listened to some spiritual stuff — rather uplifting — under a very bright, almost full moon. Walked for an hour. Not as hot and humid as it was a couple of days ago. Pretty nice for early August in North Carolina.

full moon tonight
full moon tonight