Diagnosing the Obama Issue

In the United States, political consensus is verging on extinction. Nobody agrees with anything anymore — except one thing: It’s all Obama’s fault. The president is seen as being responsible for the poor financial situation, deteriorating economic inequality and the fact that the likes of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad have become ever bolder since learning that they can get away with most anything without the U.S. warning them, or anyone else for that matter, that it’s best not to play games with a superpower.

The list of mistakes Obama can be blamed for is long and varied. He’s even managed to achieve the impossible, finally giving Republicans and Democrats something to agree on. Both parties think that Obama is responsible for the results of the recent midterm elections. In fact, such a noticeable Republican victory hasn’t been observed since 1931. Several Democratic leaders and many unsuccessful electoral candidates have publically announced that the White House has a lot to answer for following their recent defeat at the ballot box. The Republicans couldn’t be more in agreement.

What’s happened to Obama? How is it that the president who started his term in office generating so much hope and support inside and outside of America is today perceived so negatively?

According to surveys carried out at the exits of various polling centers, 60 percent of voters in America harbor negative feelings toward their government. The reasons as to why Obama has failed to live up to expectations are as varied as the criticisms made against his leadership.

The faults and limitations most frequently attributed to Obama by his critics can be grouped into four categories.

Inexperience: “His political career has always taken the fast lane. He hasn’t had the opportunity to prepare himself for a stretch in office. Obama went from young community leader in Chicago’s poorest districts to U.S. senator, and a mere three years later found himself arriving at the White House.” His critics accuse him of being a bad politician, of not knowing how to build alliances or how to achieve necessary compromises with the opposition. They also claim that he is a bad leader, and blame him for leading the country in a destructively centrist fashion.

Personality: “Obama is an intellectual, an introvert; his indifferent disposition makes it hard for him to connect with his allies, fellow Democratic politicians and international world leaders. And these are all people he has to work with. He’s even worse at getting along with the opposition, who he actually does dislike.” An extreme version of this criticism claims that Obama is suffering from psychological issues, which have demotivated him and, in turn, minimized his effectiveness.

Ideology: The president is a stubborn idealist whose opinions on ruling the country clash with those of the majority of the population. He’s statist, isolationist and extravagant. He prefers the public sector to the private sector, and his policies are very much concentrated on benefiting America. His attempts at international politics are timid, even hesitant. Obama feels that the Armed Forces should only intervene in international conflicts that directly impact America. According to his critics, “public expenditure has skyrocketed under his leadership.”

Anti-Americanism: “Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya, is secretly a Muslim, and his presence in the White House is part of a successful conspiracy led by U.S. enemies in order to weaken the country’s position.” This version of events could seem a bit over-the-top, exaggerated or even deluded. However, it is surprising to note that among the more extreme opposition, certain racist theories — some clandestine, others publicized — still remain deeply rooted. Following this perspective, the presumed errors, defects, negligence or limitations present in Obama’s leadership strategy are all deliberate.

I don’t share any of these views. Even though it’s obvious that Obama and his team have made mistakes, I maintain that many of the honest criticisms (those that aren’t biased, economic or ideological, and that aren’t simply irrational reactions) are based on assumptions that exaggerate the power of today’s American president, whoever he may be. I think that there is strong evidence to suggest that Washington is currently faced with more restrictions than ever before when it comes to governing inside and outside its borders. I also think that a similar thing happens to all the other governments in the world. It’s not Obama’s fault.

*Editor’s Note: The quotations in this particle, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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