Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pluses and minuses for the administration

By Carol Gee

A little over two months have passed since President Barack Obama was inaugurated. A great deal has taken place since that momentous day. Today is a good day to take stock of the pluses and minuses coming out of the Obama administration's efforts, since taking over from the Republicans.

The President and his family have moved into the White House and established a daily and weekly routine. along with a vegetable garden. Michelle Obama has introduced herself to all her Washington neighbors and presided over formal occasions at the White House. All these accomplishments are pluses.

Most of the main presidential appointments have been made, with the appointees confirmed and sworn in. This project proved to be a combination of both pluses and minuses, when some lagged behind. Key players have already begun to establish new domestic and foreign policies in the name of the administration. The President announced our foreign policy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region recently.

President Obama and, by extension -- Secretaries Clinton, Geithner and others, have established relationships with foreign leaders, both in person and diplomatically. In these cases most have been relatively successful to date.

The president has signed a number of executive orders as well as bills passed by Congress. A Congressional liaison operation has been put in place and debuted. A number of bills that had begun before the administration took office were passed and signed. A large economic stimulus package was put in place. Legislation to continue the operations of government until the next fiscal year was passed. And the President's proposed budget that will start in 2010 has been introduced. The President has gotten much of what he proposed to Congress so far, despite routine Republican opposition. His efforts at bipartisanship were rebuffed by Republicans, a definite minus.

The administration has appeared in court in connection with ongoing cases requiring the government to weigh in. When it comes to rolling back excess executive power and upholding civil liberties the overall score remains in the minus column. Nor has the administration been willing up to this point to hold anyone accountable for breaking the laws of the land, another set of minuses, in my opinion.

President Obama has established regular and open communication with the American people and with the rest of the world. These attempts have been more and more successful as time passed. Though the establishment press might disagree, the President's reputation as a master communicator has grown in diversity and over time. In addition he has kept in purposefully direct contact with people of all stations outside of the capitol. And the President changed the rhetoric used by the previous administration in some significant ways, a plus.

We are all learning the new politically correct language. We are learning how and when to interact with the administration and with our Congressional Representatives and Senators. And finally, we are learning a great deal more about what is going on. Due to the administration's commitment to transparency, this is generally a plus, though there are exceptions. That is mostly only because all the technological apparatus for reporting is not yet in place and functioning smoothly.

Overall the Obama administration gets several check marks in the plus column. I remain a happy Democrat, amazed that the guy for whom I voted is turning out to be even more amazing than I had imagined possible.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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