In his first three months, Barack Obama has done and said so much that it is not difficult to find more than a few things to disagree with, even if you're not a Somali pirate or a talk show host on Fox News. Choose your aggravation: He's bailed out banks, car manufacturers, and insurance companies. He passed a stimulus bill and budget, both of which will drive up the deficit dramatically. He's for more guns in Afghanistan and fewer on the Mexican border, and he's being so damn nice around the world that he soon may have his own little tin-horn dictator fan club.
President Barack Obama could have only hoped for modest, small-bore successes to come out of his eight-day, three-summit jaunt through Europe and the Middle East. After all, repairing the world in the wake of the Bush administration is a complicated matter. It will be a while before we know with any certainty whether Obama achieved anything of lasting value, and it may even turn out that the critics who say it was all style and no substance will be proven right. But their validation will come at a cost. The virulent reaction from conservatives has been bizarre enough to render them irrelevant in any serious conversation about the country's future.
Taking his star turn in Europe this week, President Barack Obama preached cooperation and persistence and urgency in addressing the global financial crisis. But back in Washington, there was a long parade of reminders of all the other equally pressing issues that he must deal with, most conspicuously the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What we've seen of Obamanomics in its beta stages is something bold, something risky and something extraordinarily expensive -- and all of this is so by necessity. We certainly hope the president's prescription will turn out to be exactly what the ailing economy needs. Of course, we'll have to wait a while for that judgment. In the meantime, the more fundamental, and troubling, question looms: Even assuming the success of president's plan, will this new sustainable economy he talks about require a reduced standard of living for Americans?
If you listen to some reports, two months into his presidency, Barack Obama is pretty much done. The American International Group (AIG) bonus blowback has so depleted his political capital, according to The Washington Post, that it is "threatening to derail both public and congressional support for his ambitious political agenda." There is, however, hardly any evidence to support that assertion.