Saturday, July 3, 2010

My evolving feelings about the 4th of July

Reading Julianne Malveaux’s thoughtful column On July 4, hopes for a better nation prompted me to reread my last year’s 4th of July post, Why I feel better about the 4th of July and about retiring now that Obama is President

I stand by that post. There’s part of me which still can’t quite believe we elected an African-American President. I never expected to see it in my lifetime. This generation of young people is very different from my age cohort and it’s largely because of them that Obama won. But will they vote in 2010?

I don’t share the disillusionment of some progressives with our president. We elected a President, not a miracle worker. Yes, I have concerns about some of his policies—-principally the war in Afghanistan. But he managed to get through a stimulus program which brought the economy back from the brink of real disaster. And if we didn’t have such a dysfunctional congress, much more would have been done.

We have a long way to go before we have real recovery, but the dismantling of regulatory agencies at the root of the current economic crisis dates back to the Clinton years. This crisis was many years in the making.

And in this economic climate, President Obama (with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi still managed to pass a healthcare bill establishing access to heath care as a right of all citizens. Sure, it’s an imperfect bill but just as with other programs (such as social security) which started as deeply flawed, we now have the opportunity to improve the bill. We’re no longer debating the basic right to health care; the debate can now move to making the existing program more inclusive, more affordable.

Over all President Obama's record is impressive. Of all the criticisms of the President, the most ridiculous is the complaint that he is not going ballistic about the BP oil spill catastrophe. In a widely reported exchange, Obama was castigated by CNN's Ed Henry for insufficient display of anger:

Mr. Henry who made a spectacle of himself at one of President Obama's earliest press conferences when he repeatedly demanded to know why the president was letting other politicians sound madder than he was about AIG's executive bonuses. "So on AIG, why did you wait—why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage.... It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, 'Look, we're outraged.' Why did it take so long?" Obama's answer: "Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

I want a President who thinks before he acts, who approaches difficult issues in a calm, measured way. What’s wrong with that?

So this July 4 (which I’m celebrating in Boston at the national NOW conference), I’m still feeling good about my country and proud of our president and especially proud of the women—especially the young women--I’ve met at the NOW conference this week-end.

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