Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grading the President

The president graded himself on his first year in office in December on the Oprah Winfrey show. Though only having completed some eleven of that first twelve months (making this a rather numerically challenged year), the president felt able to properly judge his own job performance (something which is always dangerous to do)

Not surprisingly for a politician of either party or any level of government, President Obama gave himself rather high marks for these first days in office. While not giving himself the highest grade possible, he did however give himself a B+ job performance grade. 

Now personally, I believe that politicians on either side of the aisle grading themselves is the height of efforts in creative fiction (excepting of course when they propose 'spending cuts'). Those holding government office, like the corporate tycoons that they so often vilify, are far too often surrounded by buffers, handlers, and spin masters to insure that only the most glowing of reports reaches the chief's ears. Their view of the world therefore, is one viewed through rose colored glasses. 

So let us instead take a rather more dispassionate look at this almost first year in the presidency of "hope and change". The president promised to end the bi-partisan wrangling in Congress and bring the two parties together. 
I hardly think that what we have seen out of the juvenile delinquents in either house could be even elevated to the level of wrangling. Now in the president's defense, attempting to end the nonsense in Congress right now might be akin to a the job of cat wrangling, but the president did not seem to make a serious attempt to bring Republicans into the picture at any time during this first year, and so is far from ready to assume the title of "The Great Mediator". 

The president promised more transparency in government during his campaign for the office. 
This Administration and Congress seem to have become the master of the closed door meeting and the backroom negotiation. Whether we are talking about the budget, the stimulus plan, or health care reform; it is all done out of view. 

Speaking of health care reform, the president promised often during his campaign that negotiations for health care reform would be open, with a chance for the American people to listen in on the debate on C-Span. 
Not only are these negotiations going on through the bypassing of normal conference committee practices, but as a consequence they are going on behind closed doors and without even one representative of the opposition party participating. 

The president promised that all legislation would be available for reading for at least 72 hours before a being signed. 
It seems that the ink on a bill is seldom dry before the president applies his signature to it. Further, legislative language is seldom known until right before the bills are voted on and the bills are so long that even a speed reader couldn't get through them (let alone understand them) in the time between their release and a vote. 

On the positive side, the president promised to get a Stimulus Package to get the economy jump started and he did. 
On the other hand, he promised that doing so would keep unemployment under 8.5% and it is now above 10%. Perhaps we ought to call that a FAILED as well then. 

The President promised a growth in jobs with the Stimulus Plan and the New Budget and there has indeed been a growth of jobs. 
On the other hand, the majority of the growth in jobs has been in government bureaucratic positions to monitor and regulate the new government controls on the private sectors of the economy. While providing jobs, it likewise provides for an increasing bureaucratic budget burden on the taxpayer and increases the national debt substantially, so perhaps this should get a FAILED as well. 

Now President somehow seemed to have felt that the credits listed above rated him a B+ grade for his first year in office (see what I mean about selective information reaching the boss), but I think that even the most cursory examination of these milestones would seem to imply a grade somewhat lower. He went on in that interview to say that if health care reform passed in 2010, he would raise his grade to an A-. 

In spite of the fact that I am not a teacher (and have not played one on TV) I would dare to say that even if we count this legislation as an "extra credit question" and it did in fact pass, it would fail to raise his marks to the level of passing, let alone the excellence that such a grade would imply. I believe instead that this first year has been a disappointment to both those who hoped for more change in government and those who feel that far too much change has occurred. 

One thing that appears not to have changed however, is the business as usual practices of both Democrats and Republicans. While I think that we have to give the president a lower grade than he gives himself; he should take some solace in the knowledge that he shares inferior marks with members of both parties and both House of Congress. In fact, the only thing that anyone in the federal government might get such a grade for is the Unconstitutional effort on their part.


Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Amigo Tim,

Methinks that the President has a very loose grasp of the grading concept (and for that matter, the truth in general).

Either that, or he grades on e VERY steep curve. . .

Ben K. said...

Even if you were a fervent supporter of Obama, you'd have to be somewhat disapointed.

What he probably talked about the most, all his promises of transparency and open government has been a total sham.