I have been a contributor to this blog for the past 3 months and most of it has been spent abroad in Dublin, Ireland. Witnessing the past three months of the Obama Administration has still reaffirmed my confidence that those working around the President and the President himself have a head on their shoulders and have a clear vision for the country in various issues ranging from the economy to health care to civil rights. I pay particular attention to the following five issues that are of significant importance to me. Here is my gradebook:
1) LGBT Rights / Civil Rights This issue is critically important to me as one of the bedrocks of American society. As an openly gay man, but more importantly as an American, the civil rights of all our people is a critical issue that encompasses a broad scope of the political sphere from Marriage Equality to the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. I have honestly been frustrated with the President’s slow pace on this issue. He voiced his support for both the Hate Crimes Bill and the Employment Non Discrimination Acts, both currently moving through the Houses of Congress. He forcefully voiced his support for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Most of the progress necessary needs to happen legislatively so he can only do a certain amount in moving these bills forward. Much will depend on the courage and political will of the Democrats and equality-minded Republicans in Congress. However, the President has been very weak in relation to overturning the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. I applaud him for hosting the reception honoring the LGBT Pride Month at the White House. Personally, I believe he is committed to the cause of equality. He just wants to do things at a slow and smart pace so as not to piss anyone off and possibly derail efforts for a long time. For that, I give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a B
2) Foreign Policy So far I have been very impressed with not only how world leaders have reacted to his intelligence, political savvy and tendency for people to generally like him. He has traveled across the world in his first half year and mended many fences that were previously broken under the Bush Administration. He understands foreign policy and general international affairs. He, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, make me proud to be American and have them represent us abroad. I give him an A.
3) Health Care The health care fiasco has not been pretty. I understand, though, that he vehemently supports a public health care option that ensures all Americans have some sort of coverage. I firmly believe he is committed to this cause. His problem lies in the Congress especially with fiscally conservative Democrats who do not want to appear to be spending funds on programs that are deemed frivolous. The fact that he was so vocal in calling Senators and Congressman to support this legislation along with his tendency to invite different players to meet with him in the White House shows that he faces obstacles largely out of his control. I give him a B+.
4) Education Policy There has not been much talk about education in the first six months of the Administration. I was very impressed with the fact that he emphasized service as a requirement for all young people, which I personally agree with. He also unveiled his community college plan which aims to revitalize America’s community colleges. During his first State of the Union Address, he emphasized the importance of education being a priority for young people in America. He stated how he plans to revamp education and make it something that people feel compelled to do because it is part of giving back to the country. We have not seen the results of this new Obama Education policy so I can’t give much of a grade now, but so far I give him a B+.
5) Immigration Policy In relation to civil rights, immigration is a critical issue that covers many facets of American life from the economy to national security. There has not been much action on the immigration front in the first 6 months of Obama’s Presidency. he has emphasized the need to revitalize our economy through job training, twenty-first century technology, and a new look on how we can rebuild our country to fit the needs of its growing and diverse population. He understands that immigrants contribute a significant amount to American society and I believe he will stand firm on this issue. His handling of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation process has shown that he deeply values America’s diversity and wants it to be fully utilized through his many “firsts” in appointments ranging from the Justice Department to the Surgeon General. So far I give the President an A-.
The past 3 months have been inspiring. I have seen the posts from my fellow bloggers and have reaffirmed my belief that Generation O is truly a unique and completely different generation than anything ever witnessed in America. I firmly believe that within the next 10 to 15 years and with the helping hand of the Obama Administration, we will take this country into the twenty-first century with full speed. I never doubted my generation and this project has surely reaffirmed my confidence in young people’s desire for true progress on many fronts especially related to civil rights of all people.
In terms of what is going on in my life right now, I am still in Dublin, Ireland. I have finished my internship with the Parliament of Ireland and now I am just living in the city centre, socializing with friends, and doing some traveling on the side. I plan to return to the Washington DC area and the University of Virginia for my last year as an undergraduate on August 22. I plan to obtain my undergraduate degree in Politics and Religion in May 2010. Currently, I am in the process of waiting for a placement in the Peace Corps specifically looking at Eastern Europe. I am also looking into graduate schools in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. We will see what happens. It was a pleasure working on this project and I hope that something like this continues. I applaud Newsweek for initiating this project and caring about the voices of young people in today’s America. Cheers!
Last night, I was on the phone with a friend discussing the evening I saw Barack Obama speak on my college campus. This was almost two years ago, in September 2007 when our current president was barely registering as a blip on my radar. Then, more of my support for presidential candidacy was thrown behind our now Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. I recall thinking back then that Barack Obama was undoubtedly an eloquent and energetic speaker but questioned whether or not he could he handle being the Commander in Chief. He seemed to be full of hope. He seemed to have his head too high in the clouds and his feet not firmly grounded in reality.
Critics of our President will still say these things about him. Or hurl words like “Marxist” and “socialist” at him and his supporters as derogatory attacks on their political philosophies, or sometimes their personal and private lives. Ever since Obama’s introduction to the public consciousness, fear mongers have tried to paint him as foreign, exotic, and dangerous. While I would not have counted myself among the likes of these fanatic Obama loathers, I was not yet an Obama supporter.
Two years later, I’ve done a complete 180. I now count myself as a loud and proud member of Generation O. President Obama’s catapult into the homes, hearts, and minds of people everywhere in the world coincided with my own personal politicization. This coincidence marks him as a symbol of a very crucial moment in my individual life. His presidency will serve as a reference point for the instance where my civic engagement was swept up in a movement that compelled people everywhere to reinvest in America, and consequently themselves and each other.
Now it’s time to assess what this collective energy has meant. Have Generation O’s support and belief in President Obama been in vain? Have our expectations of the Obama administration have been met.
It’s a bit difficult for me to grade the Obama administration. The best perspective comes with time and barely seven months into one’s presidency hardly gives one the filter necessary to properly assess how legislation and policy affects the lived experiences of Americans. With that acknowledgement that the following grades will be doled out using my premature perspective, I give you my personal report card for President Obama’s performance on the following issues:
Womyn’s Rights: A
Soon after his inauguration, Barack Obama enacted the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that womyn receive equal pay for equal work. He rescinded the Mexico City Policy to help ensure reproductive rights for womyn on the international stage. With an executive order, Barack Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Obama Administration’s policies work to create a political framework where womyn do not suffer at the hands of discrimination simply beause of their sex and can begin to regain ownership of their individual bodies.
President Obama would have received a C- for this had it not been for his unrelenting efforts to push reform through. As mentioned in my last post, the United States occupies a moment filled with great opportunity to ensure that every citizen is entitled to healthcare. It’s unfortunate that so many individuals are one job loss or one disease away from bankrupting herself or losing his life’s hard work to medical bills. No concrete accomplishments deserves a subpar grade.
In my California bubble, I often lose sight as to what is playing out on the national landscape. It’s important for me to check myself and remember that what is going on in California is not necessarily what is going on in the world. Despite the education system crisis occuring here, there are still spots of brightness in the discussion of national education reform. Since his presidency has begun, Barack Obama has increased funding for Pell Grants to assist students enroll in college. He has also alloted 12 billion dollars in funding for the community college system. This system is often used by students to help prepare themselves for a four-year university down the road. In addition, many working adults turn to community college to learn new skills to boost their careers. Community colleges are a gateway to better jobs and higher education for many indivduals. In addition to increasing access to higher education, Barack Obama has acknowledged the importance of early childhood learning by increasing funding to Head Start programs.
The Cash for Clunkers program has been gaining a lot of national attention. In the wake of the auto industry decline, this program has helped revitalize companies in the industry while simultaneously working to ensure more efficient energy use and consequently cleaner air. By taking inefficient cars off the road and replacing them with higher performing vehicles and providing consumers with financial incentives to do so, the American public reaps benefits on multiple fronts. Barack Obama has claimed since his campaign that energy reform was going to be one of his top priorities. With programs such as the Cash for Clunkers, and the Interior Department’s promise to begin leasing federal waters for offshore production of electricity in order to harness and expend renewable energy, President Obama’s promises are being honored.
These are the issues that I have found to be most pertinent to my life and as such are the ones I watch most closely, am more inclined to engage in discussion on, and work towards making gains on. As a recent college grad, I am involved in a process to re-root my life in California, where I was born and raised. Spending my undergrad years in Manhattan granted me a unique college experience and served as a vibrant background for my politicization to begin and foster. Back on the Left Coast, I am excited to find my niche in the professional world where my labor can contribute to the empowerment of others.
Barack Obama came into a presidency burdened with issues labeled as insurmountable. While many of his promises have not yet realized fruition, Barack Obama refuses to back down from the challenge. He recognizes his responsibility to his constituents and is fully dedicated to improving the lives of every one, every where regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or other social marker. In my book, he gets an A+ for effort.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to participate in this project with my fellow Gen O bloggers. Thank you for making the time to visit our blog and to contribute to our discussion.
So here we are, not yet half way through Obama’s first year of his (first) four year term. We’re closing in on the end of his first semester. It looks a lot like my first semester in college- moving into a new place, making new friends, drinking beer, narrowly averting the destruction of the free world… Ok, maybe it’s a little different. One thing’s the same for sure though- it’s report card time! Let me say up front that I’m a tough grader. To me, “C” means average, “B” is really good, and and “A” is really REALLY freakin’ good.
Foreign Policy: A-
Plays well with others. Extremely popular with all the other kids around the globe. Demonstrates deep understanding and knowledge about each of their respective homes. Hopefully he’ll make some headway with the bullies next semester. Better trade policy will help his grade here, too.
Fixing the Economy: B-
Considering the fact that the Seniors thought it would be a funny prank to flush a cherry bomb down the toilet before he got his class schedule, he’s doing OK. Quite a mess. It’ll be a while before this grade sticks, but all the indicators are looking good. Stocks are up, unemployment is… well, up, but at least it’s slowing.
Health Care Reform: Incomplete
Final project is late. I don’t think it’s possible to pull an A out of this one. If it’s turned in before October complete with a public option, he can still pull out a B. Every month after October looses one letter grade. If the final project is missing an affordable public option, I’m afraid it’s an F. 256 seats in the House and 60 seats in the Senate. Whip ‘em into shape. This one might take a few all nighters, but let me say it again… SIXTY SEATS!
We can bring this one up next semester if he gets more of the stimulus money into green jobs. It’s a great goal, now let’s make it happen. ACES bill is a great start. Increasing the CAFE standards is great. Let’s get the electrical grid fixed. We’re moving in the right direction.
Overall: Still incomplete, but off to a great start. He’s working on a pretty hefty course load. Not to mention those pesky senior pranks again, but they really left him quite a hole to dig out of, and all the Gamma Omicron Pi frat boys aren’t helping any. They just keep TPing the White House lawn and chanting “No! No! No!” at the top of their lungs. Meatheads.
And that’s it! Our last official post as part of the Generation O Blog project on Newsweek. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of the other bloggers and reading through their ideas. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch in the future. We’re pretty easy to follow- www.DandTW.com pretty much tells it all. You can also find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/dandtw. We’ve got a new record coming out this fall, and we’ll be out on the road a lot. Maybe we’ll see some of you at a show!
Doug & Telisha Williams
Gen O as a generational marker has barely begun, and yet Newsweek’s Gen O project is drawing to a close. While we’ve lived and breathed Gen O for six months now, we will have no way of knowing what it truly means for years yet. A general buzz of change still sizzles in the air, but how is President Obama doing? Is change really occurring? You must admit he took office with quite a mess on his hands. He could have easily chosen one issue and focused on it until it was completely solved before moving to the next, but he didn’t. Obama seized nearly every hot-button issue of the past decade and made it his – claiming responsibility for its resolution. He’s juggling healthcare reform while working to stimulate the economy while working to overhaul the energy sector while changing the face of education. Whew!
On the outset of this project, I asked our leadership, among other things, to improve our education system, stimulate our economy, and develop alternative energy sources. Here is my report card:
It is hard to dispute that America’s education system needs a serious overhaul. We lag behind several other countries and continue to slip. Obama has proposed merit pay and removing ineffective teachers. He is investing in our community colleges, making secondary education and continuing education more accessible. He is expanding educational funding for veterans. All of these are important first steps to improving the system and ensuring a more educated workforce that can compete globally for the future.
The consistent downward spiral of our economy since 2007 is the biggest problem Obama faces. The solution is complicated beyond my understanding and I respect all efforts to fix the problem. With jobs being a lagging indicator, they haven’t caught up to what appears to be a slowly stabilizing economy. I’m not thrilled with the amount of money we’ve hemorrhaged in banking and corporate bailouts and I’m not thrilled that our government is now running some of the largest companies in America. That said, it appears to be working slowly and if that is what is necessary to put our country back to work, then so be it. Many in my life who were unemployed at the beginning of this project have returned to work or school. Several close to me have chosen to open their own small businesses, indicating to me that they have faith enough in the recovery to take on added risk.
Obama plans to invest $15B annually in renewable energy sources through 2018. He also plans to spend $150B over 10 years to develop renewable energy sources and to encourage conservation. There are several other bills circulating through Congress currently that will provide incentives for clean energy usage and development. Then, there’s the controversial cap-and-trade bill that will limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. This is just the beginning of what is sure to be huge reform in this arena.
The disadvantage of tackling so many issues at once is none of them are going to be resolved overnight. It is too soon to know how the new policies will affect long-term change. My grading takes this into account and is generous. I expect that legislation enacted will begin to take hold soon and show marked improvement in the coming year or two. More work can always be done to ensure that the world is better for our children than it was for us, but I believe we’re on the right path to making this happen.
Farewell Gen O, though not really. As we move deeper into Obama’s administration, Gen O will continue to evolve and all our lives will be impacted. Personally, this means a new career opportunity on the horizon and a second child entering public school. It means paying back student loans and looking for more ways to conserve resources and reduce my footprint. The best really is yet to come.
What a privilege it has been to work on this project. Thank you all for your readership, input and thought-provoking comments. Continue the conversation…
Over the course of this summer, my interpretation of what it means to be a part of Generation O has evolved. At first, it just referred to the young(ish) generation that is living through the many “firsts” of President Obama’s administration. Now, it has come to encompass the great diversity in how we feel, how our nation is changing, and pretty much anything else that falls into “how someone feels and how it relates to the public and world.” It’s a great term, and I hope it will stick.
My top 5 primary issues this year have been (among others) education, the war(s), healthcare, stem cell research, and the economic crisis. When reading my grades, please understand that my school is known for its lack of grade inflation and I’m holding our President to the same standards. This is in no particular order, but here are my “grades” for BHO:
-Education: not much action has been taken to reform education when compared to other issues, but I can understand why. A lot of other, more pressing concerns have come up, and education is something that is already working and just needs some help shaping up. President Obama’s proposed reforms, like merit pay for teachers, removing ineffective teachers, and the expansion of public charter schools are all excellent ideas that I can only hope will be put into action and expanded upon as his term continues.
Final grade: C+ with an eye towards improvement.
-The War(s): he pulled out troops as promised from Iraq, and put more forces in Afghanistan. He is handling issues now regarding Bush’s administration and the CIA very well; his choice to move past old problems and avoid any in-depth investigations is a sign of maturity and wisdom. He knows that any focus on the past takes energy away from fixing the future. Additionally, Al Qaeda recently stated that they are feeling stress and the American strategy is “winning,” which is a very unusual admission for them and a sign that (hopefully) Obama’s choices are making a difference.
Final Grade: A-
-Healthcare: a lot of people have been comparing their hopes for American health care to what Canada has now. Here is why that won’t happen, ever: Canada purchases pharmaceuticals at a discount because of its large purchasing power, as it pools the aggregate demand for all Canadian residents. It acts like Wal-Mart in purchasing goods from suppliers. Drug companies that spent the enormous fixed costs to create new drugs are charging relatively high costs in the United States and other free market countries to recoup their fixed cost and make a profit. If we all tried to be Canada, the system wouldn’t work because nobody would be paying those fixed costs. Drug companies in general sell to the Canadians at a slightly lower costs reducing the amount that they need to charge us. This creates an illusion that the Canadian system is cheaper when we are actually subsidizing them by paying their portion of drug development costs. Any promises by any public official that costs will one day be rock-bottom cannot be trusted. Even as the American mindset has been changing over the decades to understand the need to help others and move away from straight-up capitalism, this country as a whole still has trouble accepting fully regulated systems, since it is seen as relinquishing personal control to a higher power. Obama gets a solid E for Effort, but if dramatically reduced costs are the goal, then he gets as a
Final Grade: C+
-Stem Cell Research: this issue is personal to me in part because of my home life (several physicians in my family, and serious scientific research projects in high school) and partly because it actually affects the health and happiness of one of my closest friends, whose father was diagnosed with MS when we were 12 (that’s 8 years ago, for those who are keeping count). Obama early on overturned Bush-era limitations on funding for stem cell research by the NIH, and opened up other avenues for federal funding of scientific research. He recognizes the importance of learning about and investing in America’s future, both for educational and medical purposes. Way to go, BHO.
Final Grade: A
-Economy: I know this is a rough and confusing topic, but bear with me. Obama’s first economic action as President was the appointment of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Geithner has led the government’s mission to rehabilitate the country’s troubled financial sector. He has injected public capital into banks in order for them to remain solvent as they take write-downs directly related to financial derivative losses. Although financial companies may not be finished altering their long-term business strategies, it seems that the temporary blind panic is over. In terms of the “real” economy, Obama has taken dramatic action; he ushered in the bankruptcy of Chrysler and General Motors, approved a $787 billion government spending stimulus, and has taken steps to encourage private spending with programs like the Cash Allowance Rebate System - colloquially known as ‘cash for clunkers.’ All of these actions seem to be guiding America in the right direction, equity markets have bounced higher since Obama’s inauguration and, although economic indicators like unemployment and consumer confidence are still dismal, these drops have lagged and seem to be bottoming out. Critics will find fault with Obama’s stoking of populist outrage over Wall Street compensation and the large amount of debt issued to finance his recovery programs, while on the other hand, this has led to a hasty repayment of TARP funds by many financial institutions and I have no doubt that the economy is better off with government stimulus than if spending had remained stagnant. There is much more reform work to do, but Obama’s crisis management has been solid.
Final Grade: A-
Now, on to our farewells. I spent this summer working days at Merrill Lynch and nights as a bartender, and visiting friends on the East Coast. In a few days, I leave for a trip to Italy with my best friend from high school, which we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. When I get back, I’ll head straight upstate to get back into the swing of things at Cornell, where I have 2 years left before (hopefully) either law school or a job. It’s been wonderful having the opportunity to share my (sometimes limited) thoughts with everyone, and I appreciate the comments when they come! All the best,
Time for my personal review of the year to date performances on hand…these are on the issues that affect me the most, and that I try to watch and monitor the most frequently.
1: International relations. Why its important? After getting married, I now have family overseas. When I want to visit them, or when they want to visit us, I would like the paperwork and the hoops needing jumped through to be as minimal and seamless as possible. Although our president did have the occasional stumble with a couple leaders here and there (e.g. Putin and Medvedev), he never fell right on his face, and thankfully did not repeat what has happened to some other leaders we’ve had. Regardless, he has not made the headway I would’ve hoped to have seen by this point…and I truly did have the audacity to hope in the first place. I know not necessarily a priority for most in this day in age, but for me, something I look for. Grade? “C.”
2: Economics [Specifically, the housing market]. Arizona, specifically Phoenix, was hit harder that many, and even more depressingly, not as hard as several other cities. Even so, my wife and I want to know when our assistance is coming. After months of mortgage companies refusing to take action because we’ve been able to still (making it close…) make ends meet and still pay our mortgage, get nothing. Not even something so simple as a re-fi with no loss in principal. I hate to say it, but the middle class got left off the bus on this ride. I like that Obama has set “some” wheels in motion, just none that many of us actually needed. Grade? “D-.”
3: Public image. I wholeheartedly agree that up through the election Obama was viewed more as a celebrity than a politician. But let’s be honest, he’s been in politics awhile, he knows the games, and he’s had some time now to really play around the Hill, even if being a Senator didn’t give him enough of a chance. I like that his approval rating has dropped, I really do. This means that people are seeing that he’s making real decisions. Not everyone needs to agree with your decisions, and in fact if they do, its probably the wrong decisions. Props to Obama for being willing to get down and dirty on the Hill. Grade? “A.”
4: Bipartisan relations. I know that I, probably like everyone else, got caught up by a candidate saying “enough is enough!” and “we need some change!” I know, right? Those things have NEVER been said before… If you can tell from my sarcastic typing, I know that we get caught up in the usual rants and raves of politicians, especially when its a presidential nominee. I always look back at the first term though and say, “Really? Where was the change that affected ME?” A huge tool of that change, and a big deal to me being an Independent is the bipartisanship that needs to take place on the Hill. While I think that we still have a long way to go before we truly see some of the benefits, I know that Obama has been working hard to bridge the gaps and try and get some motion on bills that need to be passed. I’ve seem a lot of action, specifically in the 1st 100 days, in which he was trying to stay true to his word fighting for the issue rather than the party’s general agreement on various issues. I like that that, but we still have a lot of work. Grade? “B+.”
5: Education. As someone who will hopefully be having kids in the next 2-6 years, I would love to see our nation get a little better in the K-12 programs in which we have lagged behind many other countries. I know there are different factors, but looking at the HDI of countries around the world, its sad to see the US ranked at 15th as of 2008. Most of the factors are tied into education: life expectancy, knowledge & education, and the standard of living. To see us lag back, not in the top 5 or top 10, is embarrassing. If we expect to be a major world power, we need to be able to back it up with the brightest minds, most content people, and having a people that will outlast most others. Like I said, a huge part of that is education. It obviously makes up the 2nd factor, but also can affect life expectancy and standards of living. Either way, we need to permanently drop the “No Child Left Behind,” and start focusing in on the new “No Nation Left Behind” program for the US. Grade? “C-.”
I suppose that about does it for me. While having a 2.34 GPA for the first portion of being president isn’t that great, I think there are many positives that we see, and much potential. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what the next few years bring us. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching from my 114 degree chair in Arizona, cheering on President Obama, and hoping for more good things to come.
I understand why some of Obama’s supports feel frustrated with the current state of the union. After eight years of bad policy and wondering if the pain would ever end, the 2008 election created renewed hope for good progressive change. But President Obama walked into the biggest economic storm in decades, and too many of the issues that deserve the President’s attention (and probably would have gotten it in better times) have been pushed to the back burner. For what it’s worth, here are a few thoughts on some of the issues important to me and thoughts on how the President has handled them:
College Affordability (Grade: B) - As I noted a few months ago, President Obama has made a number of accomplishments on this issue, including expanding government Pell Grants and offering more opportunities for young people to earn money for college. He also signaled a commitment to community colleges as affordable alternatives to four-year universities. Even so, there is still a lot of work to do. President Obama should embrace the suggestion’s put forth by Campus Progress’s Students Over Banks project, including bigger grants, making loans directly to students, and ending the profitable subsidies and guarantees to major banks.
Urban Policy (Grade: C-) - The political landscape hasn’t really been favorable to candidates from cities in the past few election cycles. The population in suburbs has been growing at a rapid clip, and urban voters tend to heavily lean Democratic anyway, leaving politicians to make promises to the “swing voters” outside of America’s cities. Barack Obama was the ideal urban candidate during the election. His pledge to create a White House Office of Urban affairs gave hope that he might be serious about improving America’s cities and after months in office, he finally made good on the promise. Nevertheless, there is still tons of work to be done.
Transportation Policy (Grade: B+) - Despite concerns over Ray LaHood being little more than the token Republican appointment in the President’s cabinet, the new Transportation Secretary deserves praise for pushing for a progressive transportation agenda. The President also unveiled his plan for a national high-speed-rail network and committed a few billion dollars to the cause. Although implementing high-speed rail on a large scale will require much more, it is encouraging to see that the President supports it. Unfortunately, many urban transit systems are badly struggling, and the federal government should take a more pro-active role to support those systems.
Energy Policy (Grade: C) - It was only one year ago that $100+ oil prices and $4+ gasoline prices looked like a major threat to the global economy and U.S. prosperity. A year later the issue seems less pressing but still matters. Obama has been investing political capital in cap-and-trade policy, but it’s future is still questionable, as is its ability to be particularly effective. With all the talk of improving our economy, it’s worth considering that inflation-adjusted oil prices are still expensive by historical standards and as the economy picks up steam, they are likely to make true recovery difficult. Unfortunately, there seems to be little in place to prevent another summer like that of 2008.
It’s been a pleasure blogging alongside with the other great voices of Generation O. Thanks to Newsweek for organizing everything and especially to Aku, our wonderful editor, for keeping everything running smoothly. If you’d like to continue following along with me, please visit my blog, Extraordinary Observations, a journal of progressive politics, economics, and urbanism. And don’t forget to subscribe to the feed!
1) Economy - The economy has certainly rebounded, and even though we have a long way to go before it is back 100%, even Newsweek announced that the recession was over. I know it wasn’t easy dealing with the AIG fallout, and even dealing with something as mindless as the First Lady wearing $500 sneakers in the time of the recession (and at a food bank no less) couldn’t have been fun either. But the President did a B+ job with it (points off for AIG not being handled as smoothly as it could have been), and I don’t think anyone else could have gotten us out of the worst part any better.
2) Health Care - I was happy to see that Obama thought enough of the importance of health care (and listened to the demands of Americans across the United States who marched to get the word out) that he held a prime time press conference on the subject. Even taking into account that in general there isn’t a lot of agreement on any issue on both sides of the aisle, it is still sad that there hasn’t been a great plan presented that everyone can get behind. I see that Obama is trying to sell a plan that isn’t clicking with as many members of the public nor lawmakers and that’s not okay since each hour that passes and a plan isn’t approved, more and more lives are at stake. Add to that the talk of taxes potentially needing to be raised when Obama said no increase in taxes, and this health care fight is far from being over. C
3) Gay Rights - Obama disappointed me when he didn’t immediately move to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I understand the politics regarding it, and I certainly understand he had more time sensitive issues to get to when he first took office, but I thought that this would have been one of his milestone early achievements. I was happy to see that he marked Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month with a White House reception and said he wanted to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, but I only give him the grade of B.
4) International Affairs - A huge point of pride for me was seeing how well-received President Obama was overseas. Whether it was participating in the G8, discussing nukes in Russia or meeting (along with the First Lady) with the Pope, the great press and real work that took place overseas, I’d like to think, helped to thaw the ice left by President Bush, and for that I give him an A.
5) Domestic - On a personal note, just from talking to fellow Generation O-ers (and even people my age that didn’t vote for Obama), everyone agrees that it feels wonderful being happy that we have a cool and smart President. I had one friend tell me that she was researching which new country to live in during the Bush years, and now she doesn’t even dream of leaving America, as her sense of duty to her country has been restored. As trivial as toned arms and cute adorable daughters can be, the fact that the Obamas are brightly coloring the fabric that makes up America is a point of pride for a lot of Americans and in terms of domestic PR, I have to give Obama an A+.
My life: Here in Seattle, I am involved in volunteering for four campaigns, and it is a very exciting time for me as the August 18th primary will whittle each race (among others Mayor, various City Council positions, and King County Executive (a position last occupied by HUD second-in-command Ron Sims)) to two competitors. In previous elections, I did phonebanking (for Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore) but being a Volunteer Coordinator for one campaign and a Legislative District Coordinator for another gives me an even more unique and interesting perspective of the political process than I ever had before. It is my hope that the learning experiences that I gain from working on these campaigns is not unlike the great experience I had blogging for Newsweek.com, something I can’t thank the website or the staff enough for.
Before I sign off, one final note: August 4th is President Obama’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mr President!
It’s hard to believe it’s been three months already. When we launched Generation O back in May, President Obama had just completed his first 100 days in office, and we were excited to see what he would do next. So how has he measured up? In our final posts on Gen O (look for them throughout the day), we’ll be grading Obama’s performance on the issues that matter most to us. Obama’s term has barely begun, but it’s still useful to look back at the past few months and see how he’s lived up to his promises.
As we reflect on what Obama has done, we’ll also be thinking about how we’ve changed. Over the past three months, Gen O-ers have traveled across the country and around the world. We’ve been in and out of school, we’ve worked and volunteered in our communities, and, most importantly, we’ve tried to contribute to public discourse, not just watch passively. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. And we hope you’ll spend a few minutes today thinking about how much our government has tried to do since January—and what you’d like it to try next.