By Peter Baofu
Four years ago, in 2008, Barack Obama the Democratic Party presidential candidate promised many Americans that "he would change America,...put aside partisan differences, restore hope to those without jobs, begin the process of saving the planet from global warming, and make America proud again," as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012. He even won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize prematurely for his promises (only after a few months in office). This is his "audacity of hope" in action, so to speak.
Today, four years later, he has not achieved any of them. In a recent poll, "more than 60% of voters believe their country to be on the wrong track. Mr Obama's approval ratings are well under 50%; almost two-thirds of voters are unimpressed (however harshly)" by his performance, as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012.
Therefore, as the U.S. presidential election on November 06, 2012 is approaching, an important question to ask here is, Does Barack Obama deserves a second term (for four more years)? The answer is a resounding "no," for the following 11 reasons, which reveal what can be called his audacity of failure.
(1) First, Obama did not turn the economy around, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, as of today, "three million more Americans are out of work than four years ago"; worse, "the national debt is $5 trillion bigger" to pass $16 trillion (on Obama's watch), as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012. In other words, Obama broke his promise "to cut the deficit in half" in his first term, and John Boehner therefore warned against the consequences of this growing national debt: "This debt is a drain on our economy and a crushing burden on our kids and grandkids, and it's yet another indication that the president's policies have made things worse," as reported by Olivier Knox on September 04, 2012.
Even his former teacher at Harvard Law School, Professor Roberto Unger, who "taught President Barack Obama classes such as Jurisprudence and Reinventing Democracy" criticized his former student last month that "President Obama...has subordinated the broadening of economic and educational opportunity to the important but secondary issue of access to healthcare," as reported by Gregg Re for the Daily Caller on June 17, 2012.
(2) Second, Obama did not make American politics less partisan, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, he has much polarized American politics, and an excellent example is his "health-care reform," such that "partisan gridlock is worse than ever," because he used a procedural trick to force his reform proposal through Congress without a single Republican vote and without the support of the majority of the American public at the time, so his "health-care reform...has become a prime source of rancor," as it remains so today, as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012. In fact, the rise of the Tea Party in recent years has much to do with this, although there are other causes too.
(3) Third, Obama did not fulfill his liberal cause, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, his former teacher at Harvard Law School, Professor Roberto Unger, also recently said that "Obama...has failed to advance the progressive cause. He has spent trillions of dollars to rescue the moneyed interests and left workers and homeowners to their own devices," as reported by Gregg Re for the Daily Caller on June 17, 2012. So, Unger's conclusion is that "President Obama must be defeated in the coming election."
(4) Fourth, Obama did not create a post-racial America that he promised four years ago. On the contrary, he repetitively showed a pro-black bias in his dealing with domestic racial relations. For example, in July 2009, shortly after the arrest of a black professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., "President Barack Obama, who regards himself as a black and a friend of Gates, called the arrest 'stupid,' even though he acknowledged of not knowing all the facts about the incident (and later had to call the arresting white police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, in order to quell the public uproar against his biased remark)," as already reported in an article "The Politics of Reverse-Racism in America" on July 30, 2009.
Then, in June 2012, Obama "protected" Attorney General Eric Holder, a black, "with a first-in-his-presidency claim of 'executive privilege,'" when Holder refused "to comply with House Oversight Committee subpoenas for documents involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 'Fast and Furious' program of 2009-2010," and this is so, even after the House voted "to hold...Holder in contempt of Congress" on June 29, as reported by Debra Saunders for Real Clear Politics on June 24, 2012.
Later in July 2012, in another incident involving the shooting of a black teenager Trayvon Martin who was in conflict with a neighborhood security officer George Zimmerman, Obama reacted by saying: "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon," but this, for the critics, was "a coded message to black people that Obama is on their side," as reported by Jesse Washington for The Associated Press on July 30, 2012.
And he continued to show his pro-black racial politics by "siding against white people through actions such as his Justice Department's decision to drop voter intimidation charges against New Black Panthers and in a program to turn out the black vote called 'African-Americans for Obama,'" as reported by Jesse Washington in the same article.
(5) Fifth, Obama did not remake the Muslim world based on "mutual interest and mutual respect," as he promised on January 27, 2009 in his interview by Al-Arabiya host Hisham Melhem, as already explained in the article "The Silent Violence Behind 'Smart Power' in U.S. Foreign Policy" on August 17, 2009. On the contrary, "America's standing in the Muslim world is no higher than it was under George W. Bush," as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012.
The best way to show how much the Muslim world becomes disillusioned with Obama is the "first visit outside of the Middle East" by the newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (since he came to power in June) to China on August 27, 2012, not to the U.S. or any other Western power; worse, Morsi also attended the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Teheran on August 30 and attempted to establish a closer tie with Iran.
In addition, the U.S. under Obama vetoed the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition by the UN Security Council in 2011 (although it passed the majority of votes in the General Assembly) and continued to allow the illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territory, in spite of the condemnation by the international community (except the U.S. and a few of its allies). Also, he continues to dangerously side with Israel for a possible military strike against Iran over its nuclear programme, while allowing Israel to possess nuclear weapons (but denying any other state in the region to do so).
(6) Sixth, Obama did not "reset" the relations with other major world powers, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, "his global-warming efforts have evaporated....Russia and China are still prickly despite the promised resets," as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012.
In fact, he worsened the current relation with Russia by unsuccessfully attempting to derail Putin's election campaign in 2012 by supporting government opponents, as "Putin accused" the U.S. "of inciting unrest in Russia," as reported by David Herszenhorn for the New York Times on December 08, 2011. So, after the election, Putin responded by refusing to meet Obama as scheduled during "the G20 summit in June in Mexico," but chose to visit China instead, and Putin's pretext was that he was "too busy" to meet Obama, as reported in the Turkish Weekly on May 11, 2012.
(7) Seventh, Obama did not stop torture and illegal killing, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, "the prison in Guantánamo remains open," as reported by The Economist on September 01, 2012. Even "Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions,...has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating...al Qaeda or Taliban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives," especially "in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to conventional raids and air strikes," as reported by Stephanie Nebehay for Reuters on June 19, 2012.
In fact, "although figures vary widely with regard to drone attack estimates, all studies concur on one important point: there has been a dramatic increase in their use over the past three years," as Heyns thus accused the Obama administration of killing innocent civilians in those poor countries.
After all, "Jimmy Carter, America's 39th president, denounced the Obama administration for 'clearly violating' 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, writing in a New York Times op-ed on [on June 25, 2012] that the 'United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights,'" asCarter thus explained: "Instead of making the world safer, America's violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends," as reported by Amy Bingham for ABC News on June 25, 2012.
(8) Eighth, Obama did not make the world safer for a nuclear-free word, as he promised four years ago. In spite of his premature receipt of a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, partly because of his promise for a nuclear-free world (among other things), he continues to support the U.S. to have the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet (and allows militarist states like Israel to possess nuclear weapons but denies any other state in the region to do so), while dangerously siding with Israel for a possible military strike against Iran over its nuclear programme.
In addition, he continues to follow the same policy of upgrading the U.S. ant-missile arsenal, which has led to an arms race with both Russia and China. For instance, "Putin accused the United States of attempting to destroy the global strategic balance with its anti-missile system" and "said that development of strategic nuclear forces, air and space forces, radio and communication combat systems and others would be a priority during the rearmament of Russian forces" to counter the U.S. threat, and China had expressed the same desire of rearmament to counter the U.S. threat, as reported in China.org.cn on February 23, 2012.
(9) Ninth, Obama did not stop the U.S. violation of international laws like the secretive dirty operations which were "unfavorably associated with the Bush-Cheney administration's disregard for international norms," as he promised four years ago.
On the contrary, starting in 2010, Obama "authorized a massive expansion of clandestine military and intelligence operations worldwide, sanctioning activities in more than a dozen countries and giving the military's combatant commanders significant new authority to conduct unconventional warfare," especially "in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia," like "secret American bases and operations in countries like Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and in the Dagestan region of the North Caucuses," as reported by Marc Ambinder for the Atlantic on May 25, 2010.
(10) Tenth, Obama did not improve the American relations with its immediate neighbors, like those in Latin America and the Carribbean, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, gone were those days when Obama received the warm welcome by his fellow Latin American leaders at the OAS Summit in 2009.
But now, in 2012, "the illusions about the policy of President Obama vanished; a gap between his speeches and his actions widened. There were no major changes in the policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean. The blockade against Cuba continued and it was even tightened in the financial sector, despite the international condemnation and the overwhelming vote against it at the United Nations General Assembly," as reported in Da Vibes on April 20, 2012.
In fact, at the OAS Summit held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia in April 2012, Obama vetoed the proposal to cease the blockade of Cuba and its exclusion from the organization, which then led to "a rebellion of Latin America and the Caribbean against the imposition of 'one and a half government' [that is, the U.S.] which applied the imperial veto against the paragraphs of the Draft Final Declaration of the...Summit of the Americas that demanded the ceasing of the blockade and of Cuba's exclusion from hemispheric events."
(11) And eleventh, Obama did not save the planet from global warming, as he promised four years ago. On the contrary, even an important political leader from his own party like Al Gore, who also "won the Nobel Prize for his environmental efforts in 2007," had "sharply criticized President Obama's 'failed' approach to global warming, forcing the White House to defend its record on climate change," and this is true, even though "Gore was supportive of Obama's action in the first six months of his administration, but the former Democratic presidential nominee said the administration has not made the case for action among the American people," as reported by Gabriella Schwarz for CNN on June 22, 2011.
As Gore thus explained, "President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. Without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change";worse, for Gore, Obama has not even bothered to "defend...the science of global warming or provided a 'presidential venue' to bring the data before the public."
Surely, there can be other reasons, so the 11 examples above are not exhaustive but solely illustrative. The important point to remember here is that Barack Obama does not deserve a second term in the upcoming presidential election on November 6, 2012.
Of course, this does not mean that Obama has done nothing in the last four years, which is absurd. Even the mainstream British magazine The Economist recently acknowledged on September 01, 2012 that Obama could take some credit for the mere fact that things "could all have been a lot worse. He inherited an economy in free fall thanks to the banking crash and the fiscal profligacy that occurred under his predecessor; his stimulus measures and his saving of Detroit carmakers helped avert a second Depression; overall, he deserves decent if patchy grades on the economy."
Yet, The Economist was quick to add: "But this does not amount to a compelling case for re-election, in the view of either this paper or the American people. More than 60% of voters believe their country to be on the wrong track. Mr Obama's approval ratings are well under 50%; almost two-thirds of voters are unimpressed (however harshly)" by' his performance so far.
If Obama is not doing his job well as promised, it is time to pass the torch to the next candidate. Although there is no guarantee that the next candidate will do his job well either, he should be given a chance. If the next candidate does not do the job well, he will be voted out of office in 2016; but if he does the job well, he will be reelected in 2016.
In either case, it is time for Obama to go. This is so, even though Obama is a good talker, with amazing oratory skills to cheer up any crowd, but in the history of liberal democracy, those who are good talkers are often lousy doers, and those who are excellent doers often let their achievements speak for themselves, not empty promises.
As Abraham Lincoln, one of the few great American presidents, once aptly said, "You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time."
It is quite appropriate to therefore suggest that Obama, were he a honorable man, should return the Nobel Peace Prize to the Nobel Prize Committee, due to his failure to address global warming, a nuclear-free world, and other promises (as discussed above), for which he was awarded the prize, prematurely, because of his misleading promises.
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, recently (on September 02, 2012), "called for Tony Blair and George Bush to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq," as Tutu thus explained: "Those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague," as reported by David Stringer for The Associated Press on September 2, 2012.
But what Tutu did not say is that the name of Obama should be added to the list of Western leaders to face prosecution for "the suffering and loss of life" as a result of his "war of necessity" in Afghanistan and numerous clandestine military operations elsewhere, which had led to the killing of so many innocent civilians, to the point that even Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, had accused the Obama administration of killing innocent civilians around the world. As already pointed out earlier, even his fellow Democrat, Jimmy Carter, also a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, "denounced the Obama administration for 'clearly violating' 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Needless to say, all this violates (or betrays) the very spirit of peace in the Nobel Peace Prize.
It is thus no coincidence that some Occupy protesters shouted the slogan "Obama is a traitor" outside the Democratic National Convention on September 04, 2012, and their disillusion with Obama as a politician spoke volumes, as reported by Liz Goodwin for Yahoo! News on September 04, 2012.
Obama therefore does not deserve to be re-elected, for the reasons as explained above. In the end, Obama's "audacity of hope" thus becomes his audacity of failure.
"There should be no Russian who goes to sleep without wondering if they're going to get their throat slit in the middle of the night,” Milley said