Now this is the type of leader America needs! It has nothing to do with partisanship, and everything to do with wanting to solve our nation’s problems. Please watch this video.
As the threatened United States government shutdown continues to be avoided and the controversial collective bargaining bill passes the Wisconsin State Senate, the dire situation of crippling budget deficits at both the national and state levels is emerging as potentially the number one issue in the upcoming 2012 election season as we count down to New Hampshire and Iowa.
The Wisconsin State Assembly will take up the issue tomorrow morning at 11:00 am CST, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal. Should Governor Walker’s collective bargaining bill pass, adjustments of the citizenry will be painful and most likely herald more to come in other areas, but Wisconsin will achieve a major success in learning how to live within its means—something our federal government hasn’t yet figured out how to do or realize the impending necessity.
Last Saturday, President Obama stated in his weekly address that: “We need to come together around a budget that cuts spending without slowing our economic momentum. We need a government that lives within its means without sacrificing job-creating investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure. The budget I sent to Congress makes these investments, but it also includes a 5-year spending freeze, and it will reduce our deficits by $1 trillion over the next decade. In fact, the cuts I’ve proposed would bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy under any president in more than 50 years. Over the last few weeks, members of Congress have been debating their own proposals. And I was pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together a few days ago and passed a plan to cut spending and keep the government running for two more weeks. Still, we can’t do business two weeks at a time. It’s not responsible, and it threatens the progress our economy has been making. We’ve got to keep that momentum going. We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investment in our future.”
The Obama-Chavez handshake got a lot of press. The Left seemed pleased, the Right enraged. Conservatives probably saw all of the “hard work” former President George W. Bush did taking a tough stand against dictators as having been given away so early into a new administration. If you believe that Bush’s position was a wise one, it is easy to see why Conservatives would feel this way. After all, people like Chavez are repugnant and, like the leaders of Iran and North Korea, they are not too friendly towards the freedoms that Americans hold dear. Chavez did, after all, shut down a television station because they didn’t support his policies as well as many other things.
But is Obama’s embracing of these people really so terrible? The short answer is: we won’t know for many years.
Barack Obama campaigned on bringing a change to American foreign policy and, indeed, he has done so. George W. Bush’s policy of not talking to people like the Iranian president may have been morally justified but was it wise? In shutting out people like Iran’s president Bush prevented any sort of progress from happening unless it started on their end first. These leaders have staked their reputation on opposing America at every turn. Indeed, it has become the red meat that they base their support on even as their economies crumble, all the while blaming America so as to deflect blame from their own shortcomings. In embracing these leaders and showing that the United States does not necessarily view them as being evil President Obama does remove some of this power. This is the good part. The bad part is that we will not know for several years whether this policy of openness will result in our “enemies” taking advantage of us because they view communication as a sign of weakness.
It seems that critics like to point to President Jimmy Carter’s naive view of engagement as the “Obama model” while holding up President Ronald Reagan’s hardline stance as being the gold standard. After all, Jimmy Carter didn’t do too well with foreign leaders while he was in office. The Shah of Iran was deposed and a more brutal regime replaced him and the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan which led to the Taliban and, not long after, al Qaeda while Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” stance led to the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union in 1989. But times have changed somewhat.
The Soviet Union was, like the United States, a superpower with many of the same abilities and goals as the United States in terms of needing to project power whereas countries such as North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela do not have the size nor the projection of power that the Soviet Union had. So the comparisons are not “apples to apples” although certainly all four countries did not have leadership which was inclined towards friendly relations with the United States.
One thing we have seen under the “Bush Doctrine” of shunning unpleasant regimes is that these leaders have struck up alliances with one another so as to attempt to either counter-balance or make the U.S. believe there is a counter-balance to our friendly relationships. Bush called this the “Axis of Evil” and, while I believe he was correct, his strategy did not produce any regime change in those countries. If anything, he allowed those leaders to show that their hardened views of the United States were justified.
Right now President Obama is still in his honeymoon stage with American voters and world leaders. This period cannot last once he begins to make defining decisions regarding Pakistan, Israel, Iran, and Russia. President Obama was not, despite his vast amounts of charm, able to secure any real concessions from European leaders during the recent G20 summit which was a telling example of how, even with our “friends” it is not really about “cowboy” diplomacy under Bush versus Obama’s “Apology Tour” as, if it were, then countries like Germany and France would have agreed to put their troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan or accept Gitmo detainees.
So if our “friends” didn’t feel like helping President Obama out how will our “enemies” do better? This is the central issue in Obama’s approach towards foreign policy. Relationships take time to blosom and so do results but leaders such as Chavez and Ahmadinejad rule with a different set of responsibilities towards their “voters” than to leaders such as Sarkozy and Merkel. Indeed, Chavez and Ahmadinejad have less responsibility towards following the wills of their people so it appears unlikely that they will change their behavior.
While it is too early to tell what the results will be of President Obama’s efforts the evidence suggests that not much will really change even if the volume of hate may decrease.
President Obama is rolling the dice on not being seen as a weakling when it comes towards standing up for the interests of the United States but, then again, much could be said of George W. Bush when he cut off many countries from his speed dial.
– Harrison @ Just Politics..?
For my last article I explored the issue of Executive Orders and the Executive Branch. The bookend to this subject is something a bit more controversial: Signing Statements. According to The American Presidency Project, Signing Statements are:
“Often signing statements merely comment on the bill signed, saying that it is good legislation or meets some pressing needs. The more controversial statements involve claims by presidents that they believe some part of the legislation is unconstitutional and therefore they intend to ignore it or to implement it only in ways they believe is constitutional.”
Just as Executive Orders have not always been known as such, the same is true with Signing Statements. In 1822 President James Monroe issued what we today call a Signing Statement saying that “he had resolved what he saw as a confusion in the law in a way that the thought was consistent with his constitutional authority.”
Elizabeth Williamson of the Wall Street Journal reports that The travel industry is taking aim at Democrats’ efforts to limit luxury travel by companies that accept government bailouts with a new advertising campaign that says the attacks on travel are costing jobs. The article is important because it clearly explains the other side of the coin, or in other words, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, or to put it even more simply, consequences.
Certainly the media were correct to report the largesse of AIG’s top salespersons’ conferences and conventions where executives rung up thousands of dollars in alcohol after AIG received an $85 Billion bailout from the government. Spending like that was out of line and in poor taste as long as the taxpayers are footing the bill. However, business travel is legitimate and helps the economy as long as it’s within a company’s budget and the company is profitable and can justify the travel with a resultant revenue stream and return on investment for shareholders. Absolutely travel can be wasteful when travel decisions are made for the wrong reasons. If a company has the money to spend and it’s budgeted and it’s generating a revenue stream that pays for its travel expenses, the travel is fine. If a company is in bailout or bankruptcy and its purpose is a business perk, maybe not so much. Like any other, it’s a complex issue.