It’s Been 2.5 Weeks: C-
Just because only 18 days have passed does not give the Obama Administration a magical shield of judgment over initial performance, an irritating if predictable loyal Democratic constituency reflex liberals and progressives should always be extremely wary of. 18 days was enough to get $800 billion of legislation through Congress and set the tone going forward and of course Obama gets a grade on it, a limping, semi-lousy C-.
Mine is only the first to trickle in this weekend before many more—see Meteor Blades of Daily Kos plus Deacon Blues and Steve Soto of The Left Coaster—and all generally reach the same sad, semi-distasteful mushy conclusions as one receives with the bite of a soft apple, such sore disappointment for so much shiny promise. Tactical mistakes and conclusions will never impede the liberal America the country deserves, but denial and dishonesty always will, face it, we don’t have a good start to the Obama Administration here.
Primary implacable judgment rests on empirical final results: 42% of the stimulus as tax cuts. From a purely economic policy view this is awful, we have known for a long time what to do when facing a depression with no monetary Fed bullets, spend! Tax cuts do not work nearly as well or as quickly and seriously impede long-term stability with decreased revenue, they never should have reached more than 10%. For a country with so many brilliant economists in so many deservedly august institutions this is a ludicrous, embarrassing intellectual Econ performance.
Equally bad was how the result came about, a baffling insistence on bipartisanship and Republican inclusion that only resulted in nauseating, wall-to-wall 2-to-1 Republican bleating propaganda that really harmed our women and children and somehow, after being defeated in utter disgrace for being such total fuckups for eight years, allowed Republicans to completely seize the media narrative. If the Obama Administration mulishly could not apply simple empiricism to the rank behavior of Republicans or the grossly titled corporate “journalism” of America before, well, at least they do now.
“Pork pork pork pork pork pork,” ranted the local KRON financial advisor Rob Black about the stimulus, demonstrating yet again that a political frame of reference has the ruthless power to turn a normally educated, cogent, intelligent human being into obnoxiously incorrect asshole, a scene tragically replayed around the country thousands of times the last week.
One more time, Mr. Black. This…is…not...a…game, the United States is facing a Depression. Employment, business investment, consumer spending, and monetary policy have gone to total hell, the only thing we know that will immediately work—and have left--is injecting massive amounts of cash into the economy from the only source left, the Feds. There is nothing left, Mr. Black, nothing, this is widely accepted economic knowledge of the last 60 years, we have no other option than to spend.
I understand you’re a new Father, Mr. Black. If the intellectual tradition (such as it is) of the United States means nothing to you, if the fate of the economy means nothing to you, if even the alleged health of the investments of your viewers and readers actually means Jack, then perhaps the future life of your child will refrain you from flapping your disastrously stupid Republican lips in the future. It really is all on the line now, sir, believe it, and the country (plus your hobbled career)1 can’t afford mistakes like that in the future.
The ending serenade to this evolution of competence is loyal, serving, committed liberal political scientists like Steve Soto and myself being dismayed, disgusted and discouraged while disastrously wrong just-defeated-bring-that-depression-on! Republicans gleefully screw it up yet again with a tragically missed chance to assert liberal principles. Way to go.
This last factor whacks down the Obama grade into the D and F range, actually, for mistakes and lost battles are one thing, leadership that cannot motivate and hold base morale membership quite another. The only reason the grade isn’t a D or F, in fact, was the belated realization from Obama four days ago they’d completely lost control of the media narrative and started to fight back.
Learning from mistakes and energetically correcting them goes a long, long way in getting a grade up. It does not and will not ever impede the ruthless empiricism of the final results, 42% tax cuts in stimulus with ranting Republicans everywhere, man, that’s a generous C- in anyone’s book.
Good luck and God bless, President Obama. The fate of so many rest upon your success or failure, there is no margin for error facing a Depression. Learn fast and fight a lot more or the Republicans really will throw us into one.
 There are fewer places less fiercely liberal in the United States than Bay Area NorCal, Mr. Black, something I’m dismayed I have to remind you of. You’re now irrevocably pegged as an obtuse ranting Republican who could not understand the most basic and accepted of Economics principles, stupidly hurling the country into a Depression because you can’t stand spending pittance on museums but bailing out rich bankers or cluster bombs has always been perfectly fine. I wouldn’t listen to you in a million years on where to invest my money.