Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can Barack Obama Save the World?

I had to giggle the other day when I read this article about JFK/Obama. Not because I think Obama is a liar, but it just reminded me of something for which I've always enjoyed making fun of my parents and their generation -- and what's not to love about making fun of one's parents?

(If you're a baby boomer, please know I wish you no offense.)

What is amusing to me is that if you ask a baby boomer who was the best president ever, they will invariably say JFK. If you ask why, they generally answer with one of three reasons:

a) He was young. b) He had a wife who dressed cute. Or c) I know where I was the day he was shot.

Now I'm not suggesting JFK was an awful president - he did sign the Civil Rights Act and he invented the Peace Corps (which was of dubious benefit to the developing world according to most historians, but can be filed under "heart was in the right place" so I won't hold it against him). But he also vastly escalated the Vietnam War and created the first U.S. budget deficit. To say nothing of waving his you-know-what at Cuba - if you're going to be a bully, you should at least win the battle for heaven sake.

But enough about JFK, it's Obama that I really wanted to talk about. Now that everyone's love affair with Obama has come to an end (all the radical lefty people I read are just stunned because he didn't CHANGE anything in Washington, golly gee who knew) I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for him because basically his whole presidency is a crap shoot. Economies are cyclical, if ours happens to come around in the next few years, he'll go down as the greatest president ever, whether he deserves that distinction or not. On the other hand, if it takes 5 or 8 years, he'll have been the lamest most ineffective president ever -- whether he deserves that distinction or not.

I wish I could say I have high hopes. Don't get me wrong, I am rooting for him -- I'm starting a new business in this tanking economy and I own a house that isn't worth what I paid for it just like everyone else. But here's why I worry. There has been a lot of comparison to FDR booming about. And FDR was a pretty good dude, but the fact is, his New Deal did not rescue America from the Great Depression. It did provide hurting people with some relief and I'm not saying it was a bad thing. But it was U.S. involvement in World War 2 that turned our economy around. Governments spending more money than they have to help people out might save the day, but I'm not very optimistic. What's worse is we've already been bombing everybody and their sister for the past eight years, so we don't even have "go to war" in our economy rescue toolkit.

So I didn't mean for this post to be such a big downer... I just wanted to raz the JFK zombies. I am hopeful. A little bit. But I will tell you that more than 600 people applied for a minimum wage job at my new coffee shop -- some of them unemployed engineers, executive assistants and even an attorney. On the other hand there was the person who wrote in her cover letter: "I have great work history and many different work ethics also. In my past employment I have won some top employee awards with most of my employment history. I'm a quick learner also catch on quick."

Times are hard - here's hoping I'm just a crabby old cynic who doesn't know what she's talking about.


Anjali said...

Wow. 600 people applied for a job at your shop? Wow.

Anonymous said...

I think I have high hopes BUT I am realistic with those hopes. If that makes any sense LOL

Lisse said...

I never thought that Obama walked on water or was going to save the world, but I do believe that he is the right man for the right time.

As with FDR, not everything he does is going to work, but his goals of stress testing banks and getting them in shape to start lending again as well as funding public sector infrastructure (that has long been neglected) so private companies can get those contracts, I think is necessary.

So too, is the need to restore American confidence without turning a deaf ear to the working class in this country. There's a whole group of people who worship Reagan as well, but they forget that huge swaths of the US were NOT better off at the end of his era.

I was thinking thoughout Obama's speech last night that a) it will probably get worse before it gets better and b)this is an extraordinary opportunity to change the way we think about and do things.

I hope we can get it mostly right.

Anonymous said...

"What's worse is we've already been bombing everybody and their sister for the past eight years, so we don't even have "go to war" in our economy rescue toolkit."

What a ridiculous and perverse way to think. Why not just say, "I wish we hadn't been at war for the last 8 years, because then we could revive our economy by bombing everybody and their sister".

The fact that we have been at war and are in a recession indicates that war might not be a viable approach to economic recovery anymore - times have changed. Not to mention the fact that it's incredibly immoral and reprehensible to go to war for that reason.

I don't know what JFK waved at Cuba, but I know he came out the you know which end of that whole thing having prevented nuclear holocaust.