An Ambitious Presidency


By Joe Campbell
December 18th, 2008

In his interview with Time magazine, Barack Obama listed those issues on which he believes his first two years as president should be judged:

Domestic Policy

  • Have we helped this economy recover from what is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?
  • Have we instituted financial regulations and rules of the road that assure this kind of crisis doesn’t occur again?
  • Have we created jobs that pay well and allow families to support themselves?
  • Have we made significant progress on reducing the cost of health care and expanding coverage?
  • Have we begun what will probably be a decade-long project to shift America to a new energy economy?
  • Have we begun what may be an even longer project of revitalizing our public-school systems so we can compete in the 21st century?

Foreign Policy

  • Have we closed down Guantánamo in a responsible way, put a clear end to torture and restored a balance between the demands of our security and our Constitution?
  • Have we rebuilt alliances around the world effectively?
  • Have I drawn down U.S. troops out of Iraq, and have we strengthened our approach in Afghanistan — not just militarily but also diplomatically and in terms of development?
  • Have we been able to reinvigorate international institutions to deal with transnational threats, like climate change, that we can’t solve on our own?

Intangibles

  • And, two years from now, can the American people say: “Government’s not perfect; there are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel like the government’s working for me. I feel like it’s accountable. I feel like it’s transparent. I feel that I am well informed about what government actions are being taken. I feel that this is a President and an Administration that admits when it makes mistakes and adapts itself to new information, that believes in making decisions based on facts and on science as opposed to what is politically expedient.” Those are some of the intangibles that I hope people two years from now can claim.

So, basically, a rather limited agenda here.

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