Tonight I’ll be helping to host an alumni event for the SFSU IR Department and basically it will involve academics and professionals in the IR world discussing how Obama has been doing for his first 100 days in office.
Since it’s been, literally, a year since I’ve done anything even remotely IR related I was wondering if anyone out there had any specific gripes or opinions on his “performance.” Here is my take so far…
Considering the overwhelming situation in which President Obama was elected to office (2 wars, a financial crisis, a housing crisis, the worst economy in 25 years including the downfall of the US auto industry, and now the threat of another flu pandemic to name a few) I have a difficult time saying anything but positive remarks about his first 100 days.
As his first official point of business President Obama signed a motion to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. Though half of Congress (and the nation) flipped out over this move it is one that I personally support wholeheartedly. I spent the last 4 years of the Bush Administration at SFSU, and two of those studying International Relations deeply. The entire time Guantanamo had been a point of controversy and shame for most of the IR Department and the American Public. Though we claimed to stand for human rights, freedom, strength and bravery Guantanamo made us look like hypocrites. We detained nationals from other countries with no cause and we used “advanced interrogation techniques” out of fear. Like President Obama said, we gave our enemies even more reason to hate us because of what Guantanamo stood for.
Closing the facility does pose new problems – mainly, where would the detainees (that had reason to be detained) go once the facility closed? The NIMBY syndrome ran rampant through the members of Congress with one Republican Senator from Missouri taunting Senator Feinstein by suggesting we reopen Alcratraz and house the detainees there. (NIMBY = Not In My BackYard) Such a professional response in my honest opinion.
So we’re closing Guantanamo, but I’ve still noticed a whole host of things that the President has done. It has not really been talked about much since the day it was passed, but what about the Lily Ledbetter Pay Restoration Act? This piece of legislation was signed at the end of January and enforced the concept of EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK (Tom, be glad I don’t still work for you). For me personally this is a HUGE leap not only in women’s rights, but in rights for all workers in the US. Knowing that you’re working the same job as someone else and knowing that they make more than you for no obvious reason SUCKS. So good job Prez for taking care of that one.
Economically things are slowly shifting in a positive direction, and since the media reported yesterday that we should be seeing some economic growth by the end of the year… I really can’t complain much here either. I know there are fears about having too big a government role in the private sector, but honestly, if banks weren’t so greedy we wouldn’t be in this mess now would we? Right now we need stricter regulation so that our corprate “leaders” can start playing by the rules that the rest of us have to live by, and once they stop f*cking things up for the rest of us the government will step out. Personally I HATE economics, so I’m done talking about this one.
There are a ton of other things that President Obama has and has not done, but so far I feel he’s doing a decent job. The rest of the world seems to respect us a little more, and I feel as if the ethics that were missing during the past 8 years are finally starting to come back. At the same time… 100 days out of a total of 1460 days (4 years) boils down to whopping 6.8% of his total time in office. Does anyone else out there think we’re a little too ahead of ourselves by trying to judge him right now?
Gotta get back to the phones… I’ll let you know who I do and don’t argue with this evening. 🙂