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One out of every five!
Obama made several promises during his campaign days, but precious few seem to have been realised. Will America and the world cherish his presidency the same way they had welcomed it? For that to happen, Obama will have to live up to expectations that could be well beyond his reach.
It is quite normal for elected candidates to bear the burden of expectations. What makes Obama peculiar is the scale and magnitude of expectations that he carries. That has in part to do with the symbolism of his election. But that’s a small part, as a majority has to do with all the promises of change he made. Contrary to the expectations of 75,000 supporters and 365 electoral votes, the P.O.T.U.S [President of the United States] Barack Obama has not delivered the change that they could believe in.
Ironically, a person whose campaign was all about “Yes, we can,” hasn’t accomplished much of what he promised. His stimulus package creditably prevented a probable catastrophic financial crash. Yes, it hasn’t nudged the unemployment figures by much, something Obama accepts now. Obama’s flagship agenda of the health care bill is still awaiting its time in the sun. The same goes for his much hyped climate change bill. In his recent State-of-the-Union speech on 27 January, 2010, Obama promised something that is quite the opposite of what he had stood for in his campaign days. Instead of talking about green jobs and climate change policy, he discussed his plans on nuclear power, oil, gas, coal and bio-fuels! That’s change indeed!
The major blows for his supporters so far has been his failure in closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and also in providing relief for illegal immigrants, which he promised and initiated in the initial period of his presidency. Even after a year, Gitmo is active and no concrete policy has been designed for illegal migrants. What is most surprising is that his promises of closing Gitmo and solving other human rights issues were part of the parcel that won him the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. The leading entity PolitiFact found that Obama has kept around 91 of his promises... out of 500! But Obama’s fall from grace is perfectly well in line with his predecessors. History bears testimony to the fact that not one President of the United States has been able to meet any kind of unrealistic deadlines or unrealistic promises.
Quoting from one of our previous surveys, take for instance Woodrow Wilson who promised to keep the US out of World War I and ended up pushing the US into the same war. Then came Herbert Hoover in 1928, who, in his presidency speech, pledged to end poverty and promised “a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage”– but eventually gifted the US ‘The Great Depression’ and gave many chickens a new lease of life! By the end of 1932, the unemployment figure touched the 24.9% mark with around 5,000 banks failing. Following the trend, Franklin D. Roosevelt graciously ‘un’met his 1932 pledge to maintain balanced budgets and to keep the US out of World War II. He bombed Japan and his government’s spending increased from 8.0% of GNP to 10.2%. The national debt, in turn, doubled from 16% to 33.6%. Richard Nixon promised resolutely in 1968 to ‘quickly’ resolve the Vietnam War. He didn’t! George H.W. Bush Senior promised in 1988, “Read my lips: No new taxes!” For records, he increased taxes and strangely parted with exclusions for high-income taxpayers. It seems that Obama, is on his way to keeping the spirit of freedom alive and kicking.
Nothing can indicate this more than Obama’s southward moving rating graph. His approval rating has dropped from 67% in 2009 to 50% today, the lowest ever rating at the end of a president’s first year term. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were the only other presidents polled who, like Obama, started their second years as president in the 50s (percentage wise), earning 55% and 54%, respectively. Then there’s more. A YouGov Polimetrix poll for The Economist found that 51% people think Obama says what people want to hear and not what he believes in. The same poll further reveals that a huge percentage disapproves the way Barack Obama is handling the Iraq issue (43% disapproval), the economy (47%), immigration (47%), terrorism (42%), health care (45%), social security (43%) and the Afghan war (49%).
Obama’s sycophantic speeches haven’t helped his cause post election so far. And beyond any apprehension, the second year will be even tougher. With Obama losing support (and majority) at the Senate, passing health care bills, moving his immigration policy further and ensuring more green jobs will become harder. But then as his campaign showed, Obama is known to be at his best with his back to the wall, at least when it comes to giving off his spiel against countries like India and China and the business threats they pose to the future of America. Irrespective of his spiel, there would be five simian issues that Obama would find hard to get off his back in the coming year. The IIPM Think Tank provides its analysis of the list.
By:- Sray Agarwal
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