President Obama has meant a lot of things to a lot people this year.
After a bumpy year with our new president, it seems appropriate to reminisce about the many labels he assumed for himself and was granted by his admirers. At first, being anyone not named Bush was enough to get him pretty far. But then Obama became a promise of a refreshing future as well as the potential reincarnation of some of our history's most influential leaders.
Remember when we elected the next Lincoln?
Our first black president was going to transcend race and bring racial harmony to a scarred America. He was the answer to all our questions about how far our nation has come since our tainted past. He was a wiry lawyer from Illinois with a knack for eloquent speeches and a high-minded vision for our country.
In fact, CBS News ran entire piece about the similarities between the two men.
Obama rode Lincoln's famous train route to Washington, D.C. and was sworn in on Lincoln's Bible. Obama even vowed to surround himself with tough thinkers who would not necessarily follow his beliefs, much like Lincoln's "team of rivals." And he promised to bring unity to our partisan nation, much like Lincoln holding the union intact through America's deadliest war.
However, a new Gallup poll shows that optimism in race relations has actually decreased since Obama's election. Turning on any news channel at any time of day clearly shows that our nation seems to be more politically partisan than ever. And the advisers with whom Obama has surrounded himself seem to be either tax-evaders or Communist sympathizers.
A train ride and a well-crafted speech do not a great leader make.
Remember when we elected the next Kennedy?
Barack Obama was so elegant, so stylish, so...cool. He was young and attractive, yet real and accessible. He was everything we had been waiting for to help us forget the stodgy white guys who had been dominating our government since JFK.
However, Kennedy's comparatively conservative economic policies and his ardent fight against Communism stand in stark contrast to Obama's impending tax hikes and inability or unwillingness to firmly stand against terrorism. Under Kennedy, the GDP expanded, inflation remained steady, and unemployment decreased. Kennedy believed the best stimulus package of all was to lower taxes. In foreign policy, Kennedy fought Communism in Cuba, Latin America, and Vietnam. Obama seems unable to decide whether more troops would help us win a difficult war, and he refuses to condemn Islamic extremists as terrorists, even after one murders thirteen soldiers on American soil.
A nice suit and a handsome family do not a great leader make.
Remember when we elected the next FDR?
With intentions of creating public projects and ensuring entitlement programs, Obama was every Keynesian's fantasy. He was the candidate with the answers to the failing economy and the toughness to discipline Wall Street. He would pull us out of a recession with shovel-ready jobs while providing for the nation's poor and elderly.
Democratic strategists still repeatedly say, "Obama is the greatest economic president since Franklin Roosevelt."
But he has fudged his job creation numbers. He has brought the deficit to record levels. And he has taken over financial institutions, car companies, and soon health care entities. Where will his long arm of government influence reach next? While vaguely defining "saved" jobs may have impressed some, those of us actually living in the real world tend to rely on hard evidence and economic freedom.
In the first year of Obama's reign, the economy remains stagnant, inflation will soon spike as the dollar continues to plummet, and the unemployment rate he vowed would not reach 8% has now soared past 10%. And his stimulus package -- the meager portion that has actually been spent -- has turned out to be decidedly "unstimulating."
Massive spending and big promises do not a great leader make.
So now, here we are. Unemployment is higher, confusion about the war is greater, and division in our country is fiercer. The platitudes of hope and change are gradually being replaced by the pragmatism of liberty and responsibility. While of the real hope for America lies in the nation's people, too many people in this nation have put their hope in one man. Someday, we will look back on this administration, quizzically scratch our heads, and with an embarrassed grin, ask, "Remember when we elected Barack Obama?"