Skip to main content

Reviewing the Obama administration

Rouhani and Salehi in Bushehr Nuclear Plant (1).jpg

It has 8 months left to run, but here are some retrospective thoughts on almost-the-whole of it.

1. Gitmo's infamous detention camp remains open. This wouldn't necessarily stick in one's craw except that Obama issued an executive order as early as January 22, 2009, with the confetti from the inaugural parties still incompletely cleared away, that said it would be closed within one year.

2. Another one that goes back a ways. Obama early on pressed for a cash-for-clunkers bill, which he signed on June 26th of that first year, supposedly to revive the auto industry. It was a cheap gimmick that had no good effect at all.

3.  The whole rebellion in Libya thing was horrendously mismanaged.   Absurdly, the administration seems to have thought it was exercising what it called "smart power" in this connection., Nothing smart about it.  Ended with the need to use a random video as a cover for whatever the heck actually happened in Benghazi.

4. Waffling on things like the Keystone pipeline extension, and eventually coming down against. Independence from the crude oil we've been importing from the most war-torn parts of the world is a vital national security necessity, to which the administration periodically pays service of the lips. But when something useful might be done in that line, then waffle and back away. 

5. Related: Obama's public defenses of the sanctions-ending deal with Iran have been lame and have tended to throw the deal into disrepute. The deal is perfectly sensible, but one wishes for a President who was willing to say, "we're doing this to bring Iranian oil back into the world markets in the full light of day, to worsen the competitive position of the Saudis and help undermine the coherence of OPEC."   Obama wasn't and isn't willing to say things that would tick off the Saud family.

There are positive things one might say about Obama's administration too, though. Heck, I hinted broadly at one of them in that fifth comment above, though I wrapped it in a criticism.

Basically the positive things one might say come down to the suspicion things would have been worse under McCain or Romney.


  1. Regarding #1, I don't think that Obama's offense is in keeping Gitmo open. It is in keeping people imprisoned there for seven and a half years without due process (and torturing them by force-feeding). Obama apparently considered moving them to prisons in the United States, which would have been just as unconstitutional as keeping them at Gitmo.

    By the way, the U.S. Constitution overrides federal statutes. Therefore, Obama cannot blame Congress for preventing him from closing Gitmo and releasing the people he is holding there unconstitutionally. Congress may enact all the laws it wants requiring prisoners to remain in Gitmo, and Obama would be obliged by the Constitution to disobey them. If Congress threatened to impeach him for disobeying the law, he could point out that obeying the Constitution is not a high crime or misdemeanor.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Great Chain of Being

One of the points that Lovejoy makes in the book of that title I mentioned last week is the importance, in the Neo-Platonist conceptions and in the later development of the "chain of being" metaphor, of what he calls the principle of plenitude. This is the underlying notion that everything that can exist must exist, that creation would not be possible at all were it to leave gaps.

The value of this idea for a certain type of theodicy is clear enough.

This caused theological difficulties when these ideas were absorbed into Christianity.  I'll quote a bit of what Lovejoy has to say about those difficulties:

"For that conception, when taken over into Christianity, had to be accommodated to very different principles, drawn from other sources, which forbade its literal interpretation; to carry it through to what seemed to be its necessary implications was to be sure of falling into one theological pitfall or another."

The big pitfalls were: determinism on the on…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…