Since Obama's inauguration, I have been keeping track of Obama's performance (by my own subjective measure). Every time he says or does something I like or dislike, I add or deduct him an appropriate number of points.
He started out with a clean slate (0)
, and after just a couple weeks on the job, he stands at at a rating of (-6)
by my count.
Here's a rundown of what he's been up to lately, with appropriate adjustments to the Obameter:• Jan 23: Obama tells Republicans to quit listening to Limbaugh
Bonehead move, Mr. President. You don't give someone like Limbaugh a spotlight like that. This only inflates his ego, and gives him more power.Obameter: -1 (-7)• Jan 23: Obama rescinds global "gag rule" on abortion
Enacted by Reagan in 1984, rescinded by Clinton in 1993, and reimposed by Bush in 2001, Obama has re-removed the "global gag rule" on abortion. This policy forbade US government support for any organization that in any way fostered, provided or even advised women about abortion. Family planning clinics around the world couldn't even talk about abortion, if they wanted U.S. funding -- a clear violation of free speech rights. No matter how you feel about abortion, preventing people from even talking about it was just plain wrong.
Thanks for doing the right thing, Mr. President.Obameter: +4 (-3)• Jan 24: Obama bombs Waziristan (Pakistan)
You may have missed this on the news, but Obama's first military action as Commander-In-Chief was to authorize bombing of targets in Waziristan using unmanned drones. Waziristan is the tribal area which lies between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Putatively, Waziristan is part of Pakistan, but the truth is that it is a no-man's land, controlled only by the tribes. This is where the Taliban and Al-Queda have been reportedly hiding, and if Osama bin Laden is still alive (which I doubt), he's probably here.
Obama, meet LBJ. This decision was so bad on so many levels: You cannot bomb these people into submission. You're inevitably going to hit innocent civilians, which just further turns the tribes against the U.S., and they're honour-bound to retaliate. It escalates the cycle of violence. Also, by bombing inside Pakistan's borders -- without Pakistan's permission! -- Obama is further inflaming this highly unstable nuclear-armed state with the so-called "War on Terror."
The decision by Obama's administration to escalate in Afghanistan and beyond is probably going to haunt him for the rest of his administration. This terrifies me.Obameter: -10 (-13)• Jan 26: Obama gives his first TV interview as President to Al-Arabiya
In a brilliant PR move, Obama gave his first TV interview to al-Aribiya, a Dubai-based network. In it, he addresses the Arabic world, saying the U.S. wants to listen instead of dictate to the world, and repeatedly calls for "respect," which plays very well to Islamic ears.Obameter: +4 (-9)• Jan 26: Obama appoints Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury
Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse! Geithner, formerly head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and former policy director at the IMF, this guy is one of the ARCHITECTS of the current economic crisis... and now Obama wants him to fix things? That, plus the guy's tax cheating make him an inappropriate for the job. I suspect Obama was strong-armed into this choice -- Geithner's a tool of Wall Street, who was a weak and compliant regulator, and didn't see the financial mess coming. This isn't change, it's more of the same.Obameter: -4 (-13)• Jan 29: Obama signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law
Thank you, Mr. President. This should have happened a long time ago.Obameter: +4 (-9)• Jan 29: Obama calls Wall Street bonuses "Shameful"
At a time when these institutions are teetering on collapse, and are begging the taxpayers for bailouts, they give their execs BILLIONS of dollars in bonuses? Greedy fucking bastards.Obameter: +2 (-7)• Jan 30: Obama calls for 10% budget cut to Defense spending
Finally! 10% is just a drop in the bucket, but at least it's a start. Let's see if he can actually do it.Obameter: +2 (-5)• Jan 30: Obama restricts lobbyists, but still lets some on his staff
He pledges to keep them out of his administration, but in reality, there are already a couple of notable exceptions who have been given waivers: William Lynn, Raytheon’s former top lobbyist, has been nominated as Deputy Secretary of Defense... and Mark Patterson, former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, as chief of staff for Treasury Department Secretary Timothy Geithner. Both are conflicts of interest in my book.
This would be a positive for Obama, except for the waivers, so I'm marking it as a wash.Obameter: 0 (-5)• Feb 1: Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool
Sure, he ordered Guantanamo and the CIA secret prisons closed. But one thing his executive order didn't do was stop extrordinary renditions, outsourcing torture to other countries. We need to hold Obama's feet to the fire on this.Obameter: -3 (-8)Current Obameter reading: (-8).