Friday, November 13, 2009

Do we love him, really love him?

I must admit to being unsure what to think of the fact that Forbes magazine picked President Barack Obama “numero uno” on its list of the most powerful people on Planet Earth.

I realize its more symbolic of the influence that every U.S. president has, than anything Obama himself has accomplished during what is coming on his first year in office.

BUT COMING SO close after the U.S. elections that many political pundits were all too eager to interpret as a blow to Obama’s influence makes me wonder how premature those blows to Obama’s reputation were.

Or could it be that any attempt to legitimately analyze the Obama presidency is premature. It most likely is an activity that won’t seriously begin until some time about the year 2020.

Honestly, I don’t know if I buy into the notion that the Obama presidency has been all that powerful, in that it has been stagnated by the Republican opposition that views its success record as being how many accomplishments can it deprive to Obama’s record.

If Obama is truly the Number One powerful person on Earth, does that mean the Republican caucus is Number One-A?

I WOULDN’T GO that far, so the idea that Obama ranks Number One is most likely an effort by Forbes to put people on top of the list that they think potential readers will have heard of, combined with a few picks (such as the narcotrafficker from Mexico who made the list at Number Forty One) meant to stir up controversy.

But I also never bought into the thought last week that the elections taking place around the country were a sign that the people of the United States of America had managed to turn away from Obamamania and were now showing they wanted Republicans to govern us.

That is just as ridiculous an idea as thinking that Obama’s receipt last month of the Nobel Peace Prize was evidence that he is one of the all-time greats to live in the White House (it merely means some elements are hoping to give him some more credibility so he can achieve that all-time great status).

What makes me downplay such a thought in my mind is the fact that the Obama critics these days are of two separate mindsets. There’s no way they will ever unite into a single force, because each considers to be the other the central focus of all the problems confronting this country these days.

WE HAVE THE social conservatives who are disgusted by the fact that Obama is president and whose vehement opposition was expected. It will last until the day that Obama is no longer president (whether that comes in 2013 or 2017 has yet to be decided).

But there also are those liberal elements of our society who wanted a hard-core change in the way things were being done. To those people, Obama is way too concerned about reaching out to the conservatives and trying to get at least minimal support for his ideas.

They are the ones who think the lesson Obama should learn from the health care reform process this year is that his opposition doesn’t want to be engaged in the process, and in fact merely wants to throw a wrench into the gears of government to prevent much of anything from happening.

In short, if Obama truly were reaching out to the latter group, he would have the conservatives even more worked up than they already are.

I KNOW SOME pundits are pondering that the more liberal elements who are disappointed with Obama will wind up staying home on future election days, thereby making it possible for the conservative element of our society to be a large-enough segment of the electorate to win elections.

I’m not convinced that will happen, not even because Republicans managed to win elections in Virginia (which by my “book” is a southern state that is part of the GOP base, the fact that Obama took it’s Electoral College votes in 2008 was probably a sign of how weak an opposing candidate John McCain was).

The reality is that there are going to be many incidents in the coming years that will constitute the “ups” and “downs” of the Obama presidency. Barack will have his good days and bad days. It is only now that we can see the whole of the presidency of George W. Bush in its entirety that we can start doing serious study how how ineffective the era was.

Perhaps it is the one-time history student in me that is talking (where I was trained to look at the big picture, rather than the minutia), but trying to figure now how good Obama is in the West Wing is just an exercise in trivia.

WHICH MEANS I’M not about to rush out to buy myself a copy of Forbes magazine just because they came up with a list that puts Obama two slots ahead of Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Because by the time I finally do see the magazine on a newsstand, there’s likely to be some other event or incident that will be interpreted by the more shallow among us to claim Obama is back in the dumps again.


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