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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

President Barack Obama: More Effective Campaigner Than Commander?

by Cyrus Webb

Over the almost ten years that I have been leading conversations on the radio, television or in print no topic has been off limits. I have always wanted the Conversations brand to represent an open environment where individuals of all walks of life felt comfortable expressing themselves and their beliefs. The only barrier that I have set, however, is how much of myself I include in the work I do. No matter what I am discussing, I try not to inject my personal feelings into the conversation. That way it's not about me, it's about what others are saying to me and through me.

For me the most emotionally charged issue I have presented over the years is Politics. Regardless of how you vote or what your views might be, I try to just present the topic and let my audience decide for themselves what they agree with or not.

When it came to the Presidential campaign of 2010 and the subsequent election of President Barack Obama I covered it on the radio as I would any other topic. I assembled views from the left, right and center of the political spectrum to discuss how they thought the President was doing and what they hoped he would do moving forward.

Beginning with this issue we will be discussing the President and the lead up to the 2012 election. As we have gotten int he past I wanted your feedback on this new feature. Our first question that was posed to readers online deals with the President's current priority. He swept into office on a well-run campaign that seemed to enthrall much of the company. Almost three years into his administration is he showing that he can lead just as well as he can campaign? Is he more concerned about campaigning for the next election or being an effective commander?

Here is some of what you all had to say...

"I voted for Obama. After 8 years of Bush he was a beacon in the night. Three years later we have no change and no leadership but only a weak, literate, academic, and non-effectual president. He has spent so much time working for bi-partisanship. Three months into his administration the right let him know clearly they would not be working with him on his quest. Still he persisted. Still they insisted. We have come to a standstill with the right caring little about the welfare of Americans or the country as long as they keep the bad economic situation going in order to create a one-term presidency. Obama has not offered any change. Quantanamo still exists. He refuses to go after the former administration for anything they did. We are no better and possibly worse off now. If there was a choice i would get on the bandwagon and demand the democrats get behind Hillary and demand she come in and become the candidate." Leonard Peters

"President Obama reminds me of a freshman Congressman who starts campaigning for re-election the day they are elected to office... Is the President running for office instead of being a leader in a time of need? You bet he is."
Tilmon Brown

"In 2008 our country was at the brink of another Great Depression and our leaders had alienated much of the international community. This administration saved the banking and auto industries from collapse. The President was also honored with a Nobel Peace Prize which is just one reflection of a much better image of the United States abroad. For example, candidate Obama promised historic health care reform which, after more than 50 years of debate, President Obama signed into law. Candidate Obama promised to draw down combat troops in Iraq which this administration has accomplished. Candidate Obama promised to re- focus on those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. After 10 long years, this administration finally located and killed Osama Bin Laden. Candidate Obama promised more diversity in our judicial system. President Obama appointed the 1st Hispanic to the Supreme Court and has diversified the federal bench in spite of the delays on confirmation hearings for his appointees. Has he or his administration been perfect? No. However, do we seem to keep moving the goal posts on what we can expect from this or any other President of the United States? Sadly, yes. It took our country more than 30 years to dig into the ditch where we now find ourselves. It will take a lot longer than 3 years to climb out, but we are indeed slowly climbing and our President deserves much more credit than he gets for leading us up from total economic collapse." John W. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.

"I think too many of our politicians focus too much on re-election. Regrettably, the President appears no different however he's taking some positions that likely hurt his base. I want the President to succeed, but concerned hes avoiding the tough decisions for political reasons... And I don't think the Republicans are much better." John Boyd

"I voted for Obama, and I knew he was a centrist Democrat when I did it, so my expectations were not high. I expected him to be better than McCain would have been, and I believe he is. I will vote for him again. I do believe that just by being African-American and President (and living to tell the tale, at least so far) he gives hope to minority kids. I had hoped for better on the administrative side, where he didn't have to buck Congress, for instance in environmental regulations concerning endangered species, mining, and such. I am disappointed that he has not got us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but pursuing expensive, hopeless wars seems to be the one thing Democrats and Republicans always agree on. Still, I believe he could lead the country into putting more of the budget into education and infrastructure and less into war. This would create more jobs than the same amount going to weapons manufacture. I want him to do more about sustainability than he has so far, though stricter efficiency standards for trucks is hopeful. The main thing I want him to do right now for sustainability is to stop the Canadian oil tar sands pipeline from going through the United States, which I understand he can do without Congress." Nancy Schimmel

"There's no question in my mind President Obama is in campaign mode. I was astonished by his national address before the debt ceiling vote. It's unusual that those speeches, when the networks provide free air time, are so overtly partisan. Apart from attacking the Tea Party, which isn't a party, he played the same old class warfare card. As it turns out, the Congress ignored his insistence on new taxes, both Democrats and Republicans." Mark Grimm

"As a college student, I'm even more alarmed by the President's economic policy than my calculus exams. His soaring campaign rhetoric whipped my generation into a euphoric frenzy; but reckless spending and big-government programs have sent us crashing into fiscal insolvency. In response to these challenges, our President campaigns harder. The administration's tone ebbs and flows with focus group messages. His economic policies are infused with themes of class warfare and motivated by populist gimmicks. If his 2012 campaign so desperately wants to keep its stronghold on voters my age, he must stop campaigning and start governing. He should reject the Keynesian hocus pocus that we can tax and spend our way to prosperity; and instead protect the opportunity we have in a free market." Will Simpson

"I voted for Obama, although I had strong reservations after reading his book. I felt that he was too eager to please everyone, so would not necessarily be true to his ideals. And he's proven me right, I'm sad to say. I'm also disheartened by his continued use of Executive Order to keep his policies/decisions out of the public eye. We have a right t know what's being done in our name, but we're being kept in the dark. I think that's a dangerous precedent for any government - whether Neo-Con, Liberal or Tea Party." Phyllis Harber-Murphy

"I voted for Obama-—not much to choose from-—although I honestly thought Hilary was the better candidate. Three years later, I am more convinced than ever that Hilary would have made a better President. While it is true that Obama inherited an absolute wreck of an economy and a disaster in Central Asia, but I have been very disappointed in his responses and responsiveness... He showed an utter lack of leadership on this debt/deficit issue. He should have hammered his own people, and put the screws to the Republicans. He should have been in the media—all forms—calling out the right wing who just wants to bring down his administration at whatever cost. He should have been pressing his own bill—I know, he tried, but very weakly. He’s a very bright man; there’s no doubt about that. And he was decisive enough in getting Osama Bin Laden. But he couldn’t even leverage that success for more than a few days. I know we’ll hear more about it next year, but it’s not enough. He was unsuccessful at leveraging his 2-house majority in Congress in the first 2 years, and even less successful at leveraging his majority in the Senate. If he can’t manage THAT, what CAN he manage? It’s very troubling to me, especially because I have NEVER voted for a Republican in my life! And it’s looking like the eventual Republican nominee next year could be a right-wing crazy like Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann. What an insult they both are to the Presidency. Our primary system needs to overhauled. As it stands now, the left wing of the Dems choose their nominee, while the right wing of the Reps choose theirs. That leaves the rest of us to choose between a rock and a hard place. And I won’t NOT vote because that is a vote for the lesser of the two evils." Ann Middleman

"I am not disappointed by Obama. I am disappointed by the Republican party to which I belonged pre-Bush. The party whose policies took a nation from low unemployment and a financial surplus to a crisis. Obama had a dream for this country and attempted to achieve it.He withstood constant badgering about his birth certificate and kept his attention on foreign and domestic affairs rather than the petty hatreds of the opposition. He has kept his promise to withdraw troops from wars we should never have gotten into. He has changed don't ask don't tell, He has created a new health plan. He has attempted to save the country from depression with various acts, some of which have paid off, some of which failed. He saved American auto industry. He prevented a depression. He has worked for the greening of America. Obama is called weak - because he has tried to do what he said he would do - have unified government. He has tried to compromise. They in turn dug in their heels on a double agenda - not adequately tax the rich and get Obama out of office. He has not gone back on his promises - he has just been too much the gentleman and idealist to realize that you cannot reason with an inflexible mind set. He had hopes and dreams for this country and persists in them, despite the negative agenda of his opponents. It took ten years and a world war to get us out of the great depression, which I lived through. Why did everyone expect Obama to get us out of a deep recession in less than one term of office with such virulent hatred against him and his entire liberal agenda?" Francine L. Trevens

What are your thoughts? Feel free to share them online with this article or write me at Your responses could end up as part of our series.

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