Six months in and the Obama Administration looks a lot like the Bush Administration did after 8 years, with policy messes on every side, growing public discomfort with the direction the country is taking, and no clue what to do next.
Obamacare, which was supposed to succeed where the Clintons had failed, ran into skepticism from the same conservative Democrats that the Democratic congress had relied on to create a congressional majority. While the AARP was a cakewalk, having wedged the heavily pro Obama Avis executive Barry Rand who had contributed nearly 10 grand to Obama, as the AARP's new CEO. The AMA and the many HMO's were a far trickier beast.
Obama was essentially proposing to destroy one of America's healthiest and most profitable industries, and not even his relentless media attack dogs could make much headway. Particularly when Obama's public speeches went light on the details and high on empty feel good rhetoric. With ObamaCare postponed for the fall, Obama will have another shot at destroying independent health care in America, but as he has already learned, it won't be an easy ride.
Having failed on both health care and the economy, Obama's defenders would have to point overseas to find any accomplishments to pad out the Beloved Leader's portfolio. Unfortunately for them, Obama has failed just as badly abroad. The diplomacy express that was supposed to make the world like us again has boiled down to nothing more than a series of high profile speeches that have yielded no tangible results. Meanwhile Obama's actual attempts at international intervention have failed on every front.
The North Korean track has bogged down into an embarrassing exchange of juvenile namecalling between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the North Koreans. Meanwhile two US journalists remain as hostages in North Korea, casualties of a hopelessly weak administration that is seen as nothing more than a paper tiger, without even the tiger part.
The high profile side of Obama's international agenda was Israel. Obama and his Saudi appointees at the NSC chose to pursue a bluntly anti-Israel pro-Saudi track meant to create a Palestinian Arab state as soon as possible, regardless of the realities on the ground. But the hard push backfired as Obama underestimated his appeal among both Israelis and American Jews. With both Netanyahu and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations that represents the American Jewish organizations in America, rejecting his hard line positions on Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria-- the Israel track ranks as another failure for Obama.
Iran was meant to be easy enough, with Obama's people running out the clock to let Iran get nuclear weapons, while using the timetable to pressure Israel into making concessions, in exchange for protection that would never actually materialize.
Inconveniently enough the Iranian people chose to respond to a blatantly rigged elections with massive protests and street riots, combined with the cutting edge use of Facebook and Twitter, that caught the imagination of Obama's own base. The Beloved Leader's fumbling response to the protests, refusing to initially condemn the Iranian government, only demonstrated how little influence Obama had, and his inability to use it for good.
Mainstreaming Iran now has to go on hold, itself a disaster for many of Obama's appointees who were hoping to demonstrate the uses of soft power, who now have to wince and answer questions about whether Ahmadinejad is the legitimate leader of Iran, and the US position on human rights violations-- topics that were supposed to be off the table.
To even it all out, the Obama Administration leaped forward in defense of Honduras' left wing mini-Chavez leader, Zelaya, after his own Supreme Court and Congress removed him from power. This give rise to Obama displaying exactly the kind of overbearing bullying that he had promised an end to during his campaign. All without actually demonstrating any real understanding of the situation on the ground.
This of course does not complete the list of failures abroad, from being openly mocked on his Russian visit, snubbed by the Saudis, and dismissed by Sarkozy and Merkel; it is widely clear that Obama has impressed no one on his endless world tour. Like a visiting rock star, Obama has dragged his entourage from one high profile performance to another-- without being able to a point to a single thing that his music-free concerts have actually accomplished.
Meanwhile on defense the surge in Afghanistan has failed to deliver the kind of dramatic results that the Iraq surge did. Obama's attempt to co-opt a successful Bush Administration policy has yielded no results, and clashes between Obama's real number 2, NSC head James L. Jones, and Secretary of Defense Gates and CIA Chief Leon Panetta, have demonstrated that the non-traditional power structure of the Obama administration which shifts power away from cabinet appointees, in favor of non-cabinet members is not working.
Trying to govern from the NSC and an endless list of Czars, rather than the Senate ratified Cabinet members, has given the Obama administration a blatantly undemocratic and illegal policymaking structure that seeks to subvert the checks and balances of congressional authority. This has only fed tension with congress and the perception that Obama does not like to play by the rules, and that his administration rejects accountability and transparency.
And once again, Obama is unable to point to any achievements or triumphs gained by using non-traditional governmental structures. Nor has he achieved any goals by working outside of congressional authority, and sidelining his own Cabinet members, in favor of Saudi stooges like James L. Jones.
Obama has certainly brought the change and the hope, but the change has not benefited the general public that had placed high hopes in him. Abroad and at home, Obama is a failure after only six months. He has succeeded at doing only thing, spending more money in less time than any US government official since World War II. This is of course a rather dubious accomplishment as well.
Now the six month implosion is here, and Obama looks worse than ever.