By Alan Caruba
If the first hundred days of the Obama administration have been a blur of legislation, controversy, embarrassing choices to fill top positions, and reversals of the previous administration’s policy, it may well have been too much for the public to absorb.
It was, in my view, very deliberate. The Democrats inside the beltway who held the majority in Congress, now had a Democrat President to advance their agenda. They moved swiftly and, in doing so, they foisted massive trillion-dollar amounts of debt on present and future generations.
Over at the Federal Reserve, they revved up the printing presses and made money out of mere paper. It appears that the government has given away billions of taxpayer’s money without any true accounting as to who received how much. Meanwhile, banks that received TARP money are desperate to return it.
Barack Obama was the most visible President ever in the weeks since the inauguration on January 20. He seemed to be everywhere because, in many ways, he was everywhere. As an Associated Press story put it, “In all, Obama took more trips outside Washington in his first month than any of his five immediate predecessors had in theirs.”
Among those trips was one to London for a G-20 Conference in which he was rebuffed on his request that other nations do more to stimulate their own economies. He attended a NATO conference but was unsuccessful in getting its members to send more troops to Afghanistan.
Another trip was to a conference on Latin and South American affairs where Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez was eager to be photographed with him, saying “I want to be your friend.” Perhaps Obama’s relaxation of restrictions on Communist Cuba might have encouraged him to believe he had already found a friend? He sat through a 50 minute tirade against America by the Nicaraguan president and refused or just failed to criticize him for it.
People dubbed these trips the Great American Apology Tour. It made a lot of Americans, including his supporters, uncomfortable. Others were more blunt, warning that he made himself and the nation look and sound weak.
It has been a flurry of activity that included the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison, an announced troop withdrawal from Iraq, the transfer of some troops to Afghanistan, the reversal of a ban on stem cell research, a program that extended health care coverage to millions of children, and the virtual takeover of General Motors that included a demand its president step down (he did),
All this was very deliberate. His White House advisors knew they would have a limited amount of time to fully exploit the new President’s popularity before some cruel realities set in.
Among those realities will be a dramatic rise in unemployment as the tipping point arrives for General Motors and Chrysler. No doubt bankruptcy will be tried, but it seems unlikely at this point that either will survive. As summer arrives and workers are idle for nine weeks instead of the usual two, union support will begin to vanish. If the two companies cease to exist, Obama will be blamed. At the same time, many others are entering the unemployed lists. None of that bodes well for Obama.
An even greater problem is Mexico that gives every appearance of being on the brink of collapse. The drug cartels seems to be far better organized and armed than the government which, up to now, tried to ignore them until they could no longer could. The Mexican oil industry that provides the vast bulk of government funding has been poorly managed and now the country has been identified as the locus of a potential global pandemic of swine flu.
If Mexicans in large numbers head north, nothing short of massed troops on our 2,000 mile southern border will stop them. They will more seriously destabilize life in American than they already have, requiring huge outlays of public funds to teach their children, tend to their healthcare, and deal with crime. Will a Democrat President and leader of a Democrat Party that has pushed hard for amnesty try to stop a vast flow of immigration from a failing nation?
Far away in the Middle East, Pakistan is on the verge of collapse at the hands of the Taliban and, if that happens, it poses an immediate peril to India, a nation that has been a total obsession with the Pakistanis since they broke away in 1947. Both are nuclear armed nations and that is a recipe for a war that would quickly go beyond the borders of those two nations, particularly since Afghanistan is also in play with the Taliban.
The question remains, therefore, can a new President who has never managed so much as a Seven-Eleven, is among the youngest elected to office, and arrived there without so much as a full term in the Senate, meet these challenges?
So far, the only thing we know he’s good at is reading a TelePrompter and running up the national debt.
That, in itself, is dangerous to the economy and to the future, but some very dangerous people around the world have been taking his measure. If they think he is weak, likely to vacillate until it’s too late, or fail to take any action, events will swiftly turn very ugly for him and the rest of us.