OP-EDS

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November 12, 2010

Different executive, same decisions

Obama’s refusal to take responsibility makes him little different from the typical politician

George W. Bush emerged from his cave in Dallas this week to promote his new memoir, Decision Points, which was released on Tuesday.

The timing of the release, one week after the “shellacking” of Obama and his party, seems to be no coincidence, and is probably meant to spin the legacy of the man whose infamous name, “Bush,” still unsettles many Americans.

Republicans have aimed to distance themselves as much as possible from their old pal, and W. has for the most part obliged. But Democrats, who love to shout his name, should think twice before continuing their rhetoric of bashing and blaming Bush for every big mess they’re in.

It was fine blaming W. on the morning of January 20, 2009. But after two years, every problem that Obama and his party “inherited” from W. is now rightfully their own.

Afghanistan, they own it. Guantanamo Bay, they own it. The economy, they very much own it.

For Obama, the decisions needed to fix these “inherited” problems should have been relatively easy to make. He ran on changing the policies of the Bush administration and voters agreed with him. But after two years, it doesn’t make much sense to say that Bush has much to do with Obama’s Afghanistan, Obama’s Guantanamo Bay, and Obama’s economy.

During the 2008 campaign, I agreed with then-Senator Obama that America should change its focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. But I didn’t think he would continue a war that so clearly cannot be won in the way he is trying to win it.

Since Obama took office, there have been several high-profile attempted terrorist attacks: the Christmas Day bomber in Detroit, the Times Square car bomb, and, most recently, bombs sent through international cargo addressed to Chicago. Does Obama really think that being in Afghanistan is helping to stop the threat of terrorism from Islamic extremists? If anything, we are perpetuating terrorism by being in the region.

Closing Guantanamo Bay was a campaign promise, and to Obama’s credit he did try to do so. But he never followed through. I don’t expect politicians to do what they promise anymore, and Obama may have been naïve to think Guantanamo could easily be closed, but he should have overcome the obstacles and done it anyway, actually proving himself to be different from his predecessor instead of just pretending to be.

But the biggest issue, that on the minds of every American, that which keeps Obama up at night, that which drives his every move, his every calculation, and that which will determine his political future and legacy, is the economy.

That he continues to qualify every sentence about the economy with, “You must remember that I inherited this mess from the previous administration,” doesn’t help the economy. Blaming Bush for a recession caused by a combination of more complex actors doesn’t create jobs, doesn’t stimulate spending, and surely doesn’t create confidence.

It seems this President has forgotten that he once stood for something fresh and innovative. But what really can be fresh and innovative of an American politician? Not much, it seems.

Blaming the other guy certainly isn’t fresh or innovative. If Obama loses in 2012, I’m sure his successor will also play the blame game. We have already seen the Republicans play it this year. They ran on blame in this past election, with Obama as their Bush.

Obama seems to be not much more than a taller, darker, and skinnier version of his predecessors. Yes, he is certainly cooler, perhaps more thoughtful, and even more humble. But who really cares when the country has a 9.6-percent unemployment rate?

Time is running out for Obama. And the bit of time he has left should not be spent blaming others. He is at the halfway point, and things don’t look good for the man who is now, according to Forbes, the second most powerful person in the world.

Lloyd Lee is a fourth-year in the College majoring in Political Science.

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