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Opening Arguments

Making (up) the grade

The president thinks he's doing a pretty good job:

US President Barack Obama, in remarks aired late Sunday, awarded himself a B plus for his first 11 months in office, stressing in an interview with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey that there was still much to be done.

"A good solid B plus," Obama said during an hour-long, intimate soft-focus ABC network Christmas at the White House special, when Winfrey asked what grade he would give himself.

Explaining why he wouldn't give himself top marks, the president said his administration had "inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt" which they were still working on.

He had earned good points for helping to stabilize the economy, setting a path out of Iraq and restoring America's international image, but the job was not yet finished.

"B plus because of the things that are undone. Health care is not yet signed. If I get health care passed, we tip into A minus," Obama said, his hair visibly grayer than when he took office on January 20.

Asking someone to grade himself sounds like an Oprah question, doesn't it, or perhaps a Barbara Walters one? But it's the kind of question journalists always ask politicians, though it's often phrased differently. "How do you think you're doing so far?"

And the answer is pretty meaningless. Ask me how I'd grade myself, and I'd say "A" every time, unless I wanted to sound sort of modest, in which case, I'd go with Obama's B+. That may or may not be how I really feel about my performance-- why should I tell you what doubts I may have? The only grades that matter anyway are those given to me by the people who sign my paychecks.

In Obama's case, that would be the voters. As one of them, I'd give him a "D" based on the things he mentions himself. What stabilized economy is he talking about? The path out of Iraq was set before he took office. And I'm not sure how helpful it is for our "international image" to go from bully to pushover. And the things Obama still wants to accomplish, like health care reform and cap & trade, that he would give himself an "A" for are the very things that would push him to an "F" on my report card if he actually got them done.

But that's just the opinion of one voter out of millions. What's say we get together, oh, say in November of next year, and have ourselves a little


Bob G.
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 10:27am

What else could we expect from someone that tends to think and speak in terms relating to "I" and "I" alone?

I like the whole "conference" idea...let's just NOT have it in say...Copenhagan?


Mon, 12/14/2009 - 10:49am

I wouldn't give Obama a very good grade either. He ran as a dove, and we're still in Iraq and we just escalated in Afghanistan. Gitmo is still open and the military is still enforcing don't ask don't tell. He has kept virtually none of his promises. In fairness, hiw own party in Congress has done all it can to screw him up.
But come, you guys. He could part the Red Sea and you'd still give him an F. He's a Democrat with dark skin and a foreign-sounding name. You guys can't stand that.

Leo Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 11:06am

Oh, hell. I haven't been called a racist for opposing Obama's policies for two or three days now. I was starting to think I was in a real debate or something.

Mon, 12/14/2009 - 11:25am

I'm pretty sure Leo would give Obama an "F" if he parted the sea, walked on water, and had white skin.

And, the President gets 4 years before we vote on him. I say in 2010 we judge the performance of the elected officials on the ballot.

tim zank
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 11:37am

I'm with my liberal, yet sensible friend Doug on this one.

Would it be possible to drop all the race innuendo and accusations for just one day? Is that possible? Why must that be the basis for every critique of Obama?

If Hillary had been elected and was foisting this massive socialist crap sandwich on us, I would obect every bit as much. Does that mean I'm sexist too?

I/we object to his POLICIES and his PRINCIPLES.

Leo Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 12:51pm

1. "Parting the sea and walking on water" is a good example of government's wastefulness and overreach. You only need to do one or the other.
2. Besides, as any good federalist can tell you, there is no constitutional justification for doing either, which should be local prerogatives.
3. The 2010 vote will be important in an Obama-judging way because Congress after that either will or will not be a strong check on his ambitions, depending on the makeup dictated by the voting.

Larry Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 1:20pm

What really scares me is that we are swinging wildly back and forth between Lilly-white liberals (no pun intended) and crazed conservatives. You can do a lot of damage in 4 years, checking them in mid-term elections is just a little help. Somehow we need to get back to less Federal involvement and more States rights - either extreme is dangerous no matter what their race or gender, ...

tim zank
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 1:37pm

Amen Larry.....er I mean Good thought, Larry! (I didn't want to offend any particular religion or any atheists with that comment.)

Leo Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 1:54pm

But, Larry, "less Federal involvement and more States rights" is considered on of those dangerous extremes these days.

Larry Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 2:11pm

Yes, these days it is, true but sad.

Larry Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 2:13pm

And, I forgot to say, I'll be taking off early today, I have to go buy some more ammo - :-)

tim zank
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 2:29pm

Lock & Load brother!

Kevin Knuth
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 5:13pm

Interesting thread- so who here supports STATES rights in regards to concealed carry?

Are you sincere in that you want LESS Federal Government, or does it depend on which ox is getting gored?

Mon, 12/14/2009 - 6:50pm

Yeah, no racism or xenophobia among Obama opponents. No crazy white women screaming "He's an Arab" at McCain rallies. No one yelling "I want my country back." No pictures of Obama as a witch doctor with a bone in his nose. No pictures of Obama as Erkle (I'm talking to you, Bob). Leo, I'm not calling you, specifically, a racist. But the undercurrent of racism among some Obama-haters is so obvious anyone denying it sounds like a fool. How many times have you heard an Obama-hater fail to use his middle name? If you say that's not intended to imply he's Muslim, you're lying. It's that simple. Being frequently called a racist does not constitute proof you AREN'T a racist. Saying you're often called a racist hardly seems useful to your position. If people routinely say that you're ugly, does that prove you look like George Clooney? What's your point? Not all Republicans are racists, but virtually all racists are Republicans.

Larry Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 7:27pm

LESS federal government in deference to States rights would be a good thing regardless of which (or whose) ox is being skewered. Period. And, I'm all in favor of states managing concealed carry, they do it very well now and even though I'm licensed in Texas, I can legally carry in more than the usual number of states in which I travel.

tim zank
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 10:19pm

Oh for Christ's sake Littlejohn, the key words in your rant are "some Obama-haters". Any sampling of any group of people in the world will produce a small percentage of racists, pedophiles, theives, dog lovers, dog haters, murderers, rapists, cat lovers, cat haters, hat wearers, etc etc etc...

Lighten up and try looking at the big picture, he was elected President! A racist country doesn't elect a black President. The percentage of people that actually hate Obama because of his skin color is minimal, and if the press is to be believed, far less than those that hate GW Bush.

Why do you left over hippies insist on staying stuck in the 60's? It's 2009 for God's sake. Get on with your life and quit making excuses for people that don't want them or need them.

Leo Morris
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 10:46pm

KEVIN: That's kind of a loaded question, which can easily be turned around on the inquisitor. Are you sincere in that you want MORE federal government, or does it depend on whose ox is getting gored? Would you prefer, for example, the current state-by-state vote on gay marriage, in which some states approve it and some states ban it, or a federal edict that marriage is one man and one woman and nothing else? I like some Supreme Court decisions and dislike others. I can acknowledge that, I think, without giving up my core belief that we have invested far too much power in nine unelected people who serve for life.

As Larry says, I would like a return to less central government and more local control, EVEN IF I disagree with much of what my state decides to do. The Bill of Rights was meant as a safeguard against too much federal control. Most of it, because of numerous Supreme Court decisions, has become a set of orders enforced BY the federal government. And through liberal (I use that word deliberately) interpretations of the interstate commerce and "general welfare" clauses, the federal government has assumed powers never envisioned by the founders or found in the Constitution. If the central government has so much power that state, local and individual wishes are imeaningless, then how can we continue to say we have a "federalist" system?

The ninth and 10th amendments, reserving all rights to the states and the people not specifically and explicitly given to the federal government, have been rendered moot by history. The 2nd Amendment is about the only one left not made an instrument of the federal government. It was inevitable that that one would also be "incorporated." The only question was whether the court would declare it an individual right or a collective right. Given recent decisions and the current makeup of the court, it looks like it will be an individual right. I am happy about that. Perhaps you are not.

LITTLEJOHN: I am at a loss as to how you get from "the undercurrent of racism among some Obama-haters is so obvious" to "Not all Republicans are racists, but virtually all racists are Republicans." You seem concerned about people succumbing to their prejudices and stereotypes. Perhaps you should consider your own. "Being frequently called a racist does not constitute proof you AREN

tim zank
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 11:16pm

Leo {But if you

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 12/15/2009 - 9:38am

Leo- Good response!

This is why it is tricky. Everyone wants "less government"- but they fail to look at the services and protections THEY are getting- they are just opposed to services THEY don't use or protections THEY don't like.