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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Refutations of New York Post's List of 100 Obama Mistakes

Photo by Pete Souza

While I published a list of 100 blunders, lies, gaffes, and bad policies the day before President Obama's hundredth in office, I was kicking myself for not publishing mine a little earlier because the New York Post beat me to the punch.

I must say I am a little partial to mine because the New York Post's list has several items on it that I don't consider valid criticisms of Obama in his first hundred days as President.

Here they are with my responses:

9. Turkey tried to block the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as new NATO secretary general because he didn't properly punish the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed. France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel were outraged; Obama said he supported Turkey's induction into the European Union.
That's a little more of a criticism of Turkey than it is of Obama. Sarkozy and Merkel may have been outraged, but does that mean that they don't support Turkey's induction into the EU? And Obama may support Turkey's induction into the EU, but does that mean he wasn't outraged by Turkey's move to block Rasmussen's appointment? The link here is a little too tenuous. There's way too much other good stuff to waste a spot on the list with this.

19. Nixes a "buy American" provision in the stimulus bill.
That's actually a really good thing. My criticism of him would be that he put such a provision in the bill to begin with and that he only removed it in a bow to strong political pressure (along with reason and history, not to mention). Protectionist policies that restrict international trade have an unequivocally, empirically-proven, and theoretically-predictable NEGATIVE effect on a nation's economy. During the Great Depression, when the government passed a battery of legislation to stimulate the economy, one piece was the Smoot Hawley Tariff (essentially a "buy American" bill), and it measurably plunged the world into an even deeper and worse depression than we would have had.

23. Sanjay Gupta was in discussions to become Surgeon General, but the TV personality withdrew after he was criticized for his flimsy political record.
Weak. Does that really classify as a gaffe, mistake, or blunder? Essentially that says "Someone was being considered for a cabinet position, but didn't make it through the vetting process because they were under-qualified." Isn't that actually a success of Obama's vetting process (probably like, the only success of his vetting process... insert joke about tax evasion here)? If Gupta had gotten hired with a flimsy political record, wouldn't that be the blunder?

24. Rasmussen finds 58% of Americans believe the Obama administration's release of CIA memos endangers the national security of the United States.
That's not technically Obama's mistake- it's a bunch of Americans' opinions. But assuming that you are using their opinions to highlight his mistake, which you believe is his release of CIA memos, then say so directly. I would be inclined to consider the actions those memos describe as more dangerous to our national security than the memos themselves. We have got to end these reckless wars and the questionable tactics we use in pursuing them.

25. Only 28% think the Obama administration should do any further investigating of how the Bush administration treated terrorism suspects.
Once again, that's a poll result, not an example of an Obama Administration mistake, gaffe, or blunder.

26. "Obama thanked CIA employees for their work and said they're invaluable to national security. He explained his decision to release the memos, then told everyone not to feel bad because he was now acknowledging potential mistakes. Theirs, not his. 'That's how we learn,' Obama said, as though soothing a room full of fourth-graders." -- The Oklahoman, 4/23
Look... I think for a President who has clamored so much for transparency, Barack Obama is a lying hypocrite of the worst magnitude for going back on his promises of transparency so shamelessly. That said, I would be sorely amiss to criticize him for actually pursuing some degree of transparency in this area by creating a more open conversation about what's going on. And that said, I would be sorely amiss not to mention that he's even more a hypocrite because he's acting as if he's cleaning things up with the CIA by releasing these memos, yet he signed an executive order allowing them to continue the practice of "renditions."

35. "You're sitting here. And you're -- you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, 'I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money--' How do you deal with -- I mean: Explain. Are you punch-drunk?" -- Steve Kroft, "60 Minutes," 3/22

40. Obama lifts travel and remittance restrictions on Cuba.
*Repeat of the whole spiel about international trade I wrote above.* If Obama doesn't end up lifting the entire embargo on trade with Cuba (or trying very hard to) by his thousandth day in office, I'll be criticizing him for that on my list of 1000 blunders. Trade with Cuba would be a phenomenal boon to the American economy. It'll do far more than the stimulus package did to stimulate growth (which admittedly isn't hard since the stimulus package did harm to growth... an eight year old with a lemonade stand does more to stimulate economic growth than the stimulus package did). This is one area where I am happy with the direction the present administration is headed.

41. Obama considers dropping the embargo on Cuba.
Seriously, how on Earth could you consider this a criticism? What is your argument here?

42. After warming signs from Raul Castro, Fidel Castro says Obama "misinterpreted" his brother's words, and that Cuba would not be willing to negotiate about human rights.
How does the New York Post feel about the human right to trade free from forcible interference by others?

43. Obama is considering dropping a key demand to Iran, allowing it to keep nuclear facilities open during negotiations.
Here's a bigger criticism- that Obama allows America to keep its military nuclear facilities. America wants to end nuclear proliferation? Good, me too. Guess where we can start... with the first country to ever build nuclear weapons and the only country that ever used them against another- the U.S.A. We need to be the change we want to see in the world.

44. In a letter to Dmitri Medvedev, Obama offered to drop plans for a missile shield in Europe in exchange for Russia's help in resolving the nuclear weapons issue in Iran.
Translation: "In a letter to Dmitri Medvedev, Obama offered to back away from a policy of nuclear one-ups-manship and meddling overseas that will cost millions of taxpayer dollars and worsen relations with another major country in exchange for help in pursuing the use of diplomacy to resolve nuclear proliferation in an unstable region of the world." That's a criticism?

45. Medvedev said he would not "haggle" on Iran and the missile shield.
That's not Obama's blunder. It's Medvedev's.

56. For an April 14 speech at Georgetown, the administration asked the university to cover up all signs and symbols -- including the letters "IHS" in gold, a symbol for Jesus.
That's not an anti-Christian thing. The administration just didn't want any signs or symbols on the stage that would distract from Obama's purpose and message in speaking there. He's the President, and his job is not to endorse Jesus or any other religious figure, but to maintain a civil society, which he's frankly sucking at doing, so he should probably give that some more work before he takes on any new responsibilities like evangelizing for Christianity. (Full disclosure: I am a Christian, and this did not offend me.)

67. Obama quietly announced that he would not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement, going back on a campaign promise.
Good on you for pointing out more broken promises and inconsistencies, but I did want to mention that this is one that I'm glad he's breaking.

70. "By any measure, my administration has inherited a fiscal disaster." -- Obama
That's not a mistake. It's totally, 100% true. Obama's blunder is to think that inheriting a fiscal disaster is a license to make that fiscal disaster even worse.

89. "It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me." -- Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who became the second failed Commerce Secretary nominee
Not really a blunder, gaffe, or mistake. If it was anybody's mistake, it was Sen. Judd Gregg's. It was kind of funny though.

91. The $49 million inauguration -- triple what taxpayers spent at Bush's first inauguration.
This is a valid criticism, but your figure's off... his inauguration cost more than three times that figure.

And for the sake of everything that's good and holy... put your freaking list on ONE PAGE!


  1. "Barack Obama is a lying hypocrite of the worst magnitude"? You've gone too far. You have no sense of proportion, and without that, your desire to improve the country is doomed to fail. Ron Paul attracted me to Libertarian thought because he was issue-oriented, good-natured and respectful, while all around me was the politics of personal destruction. I am impressed by reason and and I subscribed to your blog because I found a great deal of reason. But since the Tea Party controversies your blog has become a shrill demonization. If I want that, I can get get it on Fox and MSNBC.

  2. Thanks, Chris.

    Anonymous reader- thanks for your constructive criticism. I do really try to take feedback to heart and I talked with THL contributor Ben Bryan about this.

    My first inclination is to quibble about the facts, but that would be entirely missing your point. You're right. I do need to tone it down here. Even if it's right that Obama is a liar and a hypocrite (which it might not be... there are other more charitable alternatives and I can't really know for sure), to say so as often as I have done and as angrily as I have done lately is to be coming from the wrong place and will not produce the fruits of a real dialogue.

    I have emphasized over and over on this blog that we need to come from a place of love, not anger. It is all too easy to get angry when so much is going awry (my sense of proportion for example has been stretched to the breaking point by the truly fantastic amount of debt our country has accrued in so short a period of time), but that is to lose hope and become despondent. I want to spread hope and stamp out despondency.

    Let me thank you again for putting me in my place... I needed it and perhaps your one comment will be the single most important factor in this blog's continuing success for the month of May. I'm giving you my one month guarantee... keep reading and shoot me an e-mail at the end of May to let me know if you have been satisfied that THL is back on the right track.

    Peace and love.

  3. Here's more to add to the 100:

    101. Obama emboldened Muslim extremeists and gave them a huge moral victory when he issued an executive order to cease water boarding and all other forms of interrogation against terrorists captured on the battlefield. Obama decreed that US military and intelligence personnel must strictly adhere to the US Army Manuel in regards to the interrogation of enemy combatants; effectually bringing any and all intelligence gathering to a screeching halt. Interrogation now may not go beyond the limits of polite conversation.

    102. Buzzing New York City in Air Force One at low altitude as a photo-op stunt, creating a city-wide panic. New Yorkers, not aware that it was Air Force One, thought it to be another terrorist attack. Obama claims that he didn't know anything about it.

    103. Inauguration Day: Instead of rebuking public attendees, Obama stood silent as the crowd booed and jeered outgoing President and First Lady Bush as they stepped onto the stage during the inauguration celebration.

    104. Obama having his favorite chef flown in from Chicago to make him a pizza.

    105. Obama's failure to ask for Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation after calling America "a nation of cowards."

    106. At the first meeting between new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary Clinton gave Lavrov a button that was supposed to say "restart" in the Russian language. The button was to symbolize the restart of America's relationship with the Russian Republic. Instead it was the Russian word for "overcharged"

    107. Six words: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

    108. Obama's failure to ask for the resignation of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano after she issued a DHS memo calling both active and inactive US military veterans of the war in Iraq & Afghanistan potential domestic terrorists, comparing them to the likes of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Director Napolitano also said that anybody who attended the Tax Day Tea Parties or opposes abortion were "right-wing extremists."

    109. In the face of harsh criticism, public outrage and death threats towards AIG's executives to give back their bonus money, it soon came to light that Obama had received over $130,000 in campaign contributions from AIG in 2008. President Obama has yet to give the money back and no word from the White House as to when that will happen.

  4. I almost forgot about picking Joe Biden as VP. But since that mistake was made before he was elected, I suppose it doesn't really count, although Obama is probably regretting his decision.

  5. Here's one more:
    Obama Snubs Medal of Honor Inaugural Ball - First Time in 50 Years
    Thursday, 01/22
    Barack Obama may have stumbled over his words briefly during his inauguration, but he made an even bigger blunder later Tuesday evening. The newly sworn-in President opted not to appear at what should have been one of the most important Balls on his agenda that evening - The Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball. The Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball was begun in 1953 for President Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration. The event recognized recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. There were 48 Medal of Honor recipients in attendance, who were undoubtedly disappointed by the Commander-in-Chief's failure to show. Over the past 56 years and 14 inaugurations, no President has skipped this event - until now. The Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball is sponsored by the American Legion, and co-sponsored by 13 other veteran's service organizations, including those such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Instead of attending this ball honoring our nation's heroes, Obama was busy making stops at 10 other official balls. Obama and his wife's first stop was at the Neighborhood Ball. From there they went to the Home State Ball for Illinois and Hawaii, the Commander-in-Chief Ball, the Youth Inaugural Ball, and the Home State Ball for Delaware and Pennsylvania. They finished off the night with brief appearances at the Mid-Atlantic, Western, Midwest, Eastern, and Southern regional Balls. Celebrities were a plenty at the balls, with Stevie Wonder, Shakira, Mary. J. Blige, Faith Hill, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine,, Sting, Mariah Carey, and Leonardo DiCaprio in attendance at the Neighborhood Ball. In addition, the other nine balls also featured a star-studded lineup including Kanye West and Kid Rock at the Youth Ball, Marc Anthony at the Western Ball, and Cheryl Crow at the Western Ball. It was the party without all of the celebrities that Obama skipped. The very people who he sought to have support him during his candidacy and campaign, who have fought to protect this country, were snubbed in favor of publicity and the opportunity to rub shoulders - yet again - with the out-of-touch Hollywood elite. --The Cleveland Leader

  6. Wow that's an awful lot. I'll be sure to look over these again when I do my 200 Day post! Thanks.


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