We’re going to take a trip in a time machine this week. I know how much you all wanted me to write about Sarah Palin and the Middle East (separately, of course), but don’t worry, we’ll return to our regular programming next week.
Hold onto your hats as we head back to Jan. 20, 2009, the day U.S. President Barack Obama was sworn into office. This was also the day Obama set the bar high for himself. As of right now, I don’t think he’s living up to it.
But first: the buildup to my rant! This week, I watched Obama’s first inaugural address in one of my classes. It was the first time I had seen it since the beginning of his presidency. It was strange to watch it out of context. Everyone there was wearing Obama hats and scarves. There were people in tears. Heck, George Bush didn’t even look too upset that he was out of a job. The political atmosphere was completely different. People had hope for Obama. People thought he was truly going to change the system. They thought he was different. The jury is still out on whether they were right.
Now hop back in the time machine for a second. According to Gallup, Obama’s approval rating dropped from 67 percent in late Jan. 2009 to 44 percent last week. This is normal for most presidencies. We get tired of presidents. They have more and more time to fail at doing what they promised, and then by the time we kick them out, their approval ratings are circling the drain.
However, Obama was not supposed to be a typical president. I’m pretty sure everyone, including his critics, thought he was capable of anything. Some were afraid this Kenyan-born fancy-pants liberal was going to take all their guns and their freedoms. Obama hasn’t even lived up to their expectations yet.
Don’t get me wrong. Obama has done a lot. He passed and fought for universal healthcare. He’s passed laws on campaign finance reform. He repealed the Defense of Marriage Act and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in all branches of the military. The CIA killed Osama bin Laden under his watch. He signed into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He came out (pun slightly intended) as the first president to openly support gay marriage. He also helped pull our tanking economy out of the dumps. And he has a wicked awesome jump shot.
However in the past two years, Obama has fallen far short of revolutionary. Granted this might have something to do with the general lack of bipartisanship in Washington, but there’s always more he can do. Here I’m not defining “more” as “have the National Security Agency eavesdrop on Angela Merkel’s cell phone calls.”
Compare this administration to the one Obama promised the American people back in 2009, and we can definitely see the shortcomings. Seriously though. Go take some time to watch the inaugural address. Don’t cop out and skim a transcript, either. The actual speech is totally worth it. It’s only 20 minutes of your life. We all know it’s either that or another episode of “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix. Barney’s shenanigans can wait. Don’t worry — this will be my last homework assignment of the semester.
After you watch it, you’ll understand where I am coming from. Here is this amazing orator who had told an entire nation that they deserved better from their leaders and then failed to live up to his own standards. Wire tapping and even the troubles with the Obamacare website all have to do with Obama’s credibility as a leader. These aren’t things he can blame other people for. It’s Obama’s administration, after all.
I guess my point it this: There was a reason we thought Obama was different from all the other chumps (#Clinton2016) running for president back in 2008. We actually believed him on the most basic level. Instead of questioning his intent, some 70 million people took his word and voted for him, according to the Federal Election Commission report on the 2008 presidential elections.
That’s what makes all of this so disappointing. Obama seemed like he was ready to bring a higher standard into the Oval Office as he fought to protect the disenfranchised and the forgotten. Now in the midst of two public relations crises, Americans can only turn to each other questioning why they voted for this guy in the first place.
Of course there is still time for Obama to prove himself. He still has something like 1100 days left in office (there are people on the Internet counting, I promise). He could turn the whole NSA blunder and the website malfunctions around. And I sincerely hope he does. The man who delivered that speech almost five years ago deserves a chance to lead.
Sara Ryan is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences studying political science and math. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.