We are well into Obama’s second term now, so anyone waiting for him to take the gloves off can stop waiting. Did everyone think he was going to be an incredible humanitarian, just because he was the first black President? Remember, he got the Nobel the day he was elected. He spoke a lot about “hope” on the campaign trail – a suspiciously vague platform in hindsight – but ironically I feel more hopeless than when he took office.
In fact, it may be that my hopes were up for an Obama presidency, and that’s why it’s felt worse than Bush 2, whom we all knew was kind of a jerk. Obama had a very short political history before attaining the highest office, and many argue that’s why he doesn’t have friends on Capitol Hill. Still, he had questionable relationships with bankers and pharmaceutical companies when he was a senator, and he has rewarded both interest groups with half-hearted reforms that will only guarantee their success and protection in the long run.
He’s also been surprisingly cocky. He clearly doesn’t understand much about economics or our financial system, but he’s chosen not to listen. Instead, he puts trust in his Harvard cronies to shape policy and doesn’t think more about it. The result is status quo. In fact, he doesn’t reach out to people generally – not diplomats or leaders from other countries, or people within his own party. Journalists report that he’s confident making his own decisions. He tells people he meets with what he thinks – he doesn’t inquire about their concerns or ask for their advice.
And speaking of journalists: he’s come down on them much harder than Bush, doing secret wire-tapping and email raids in the service of detecting “leaks.” In other words, spying on American citizens for “security reasons.” He has aggressively prosecuted whistleblowers, most notably Thomas Drake, the case against whom has since collapsed. He’s also responsible for stepping up the drone strikes, both in this country and abroad.
Further disappointments include: stepping up the raids on legal medical marijuana shops and encouraging publicly funded universities to give money to for-profit Silicon Valley startups to replace classes with cheaper online derivatives, helping rich people get richer, and poor get dumber. It’s crazy that much of what Obama has done has widened the gap between the haves and the have nots. I understand that you sometimes have to join them, to beat them. But do you have to beat yourself too?