Mind your business.

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!