Critics evaluating Obama's performance thus far are doling out lumps of coal this holiday season despite the president's proximity to achieving his top domestic priority: health care reform. Reviews of his performance have been mixed, but Obama has spent much of December fending off criticism from the right and left alike as he defends decisions on climate change, Afghanistan and the dismal economy:
- Obama's juggling of Copenhagen, Capitol Hill and in the Middle East has resulted in a big "splat," Michael Barone writes on RealClearPolitics.com. Obama's double-time work in the States and abroad has moved Americans "in the opposite of the intended direction," Barone says. He concludes that either “economic distress does not move Americans to support more government” or “Obama's persuasive powers are surprisingly weak.”
- The near-simultaneous and self-described victories in Copenhagen and Congress are "indiscernible" and "unslightly," respectively, fumed Washington Post columnist George Will. The climate talks amount to a "list of goals" that world leaders have "no serious intention of trying to meet," he wrote. The president may have gotten a health care bill through Senate but all it does is "solve the Democrats' 'problem' of figuring out how to worsen the dependency culture and the entitlement mentality that grows with it."
- The "miserable" Senate health care bill is "reform in name only," Arianna Huffington wrote for HuffPo. Obama is kowtowing to insurance and drug industries who have control over the legislation that is looking more like the disastrous No Child Left Behind policy, she writes. "As we approach the end of Obama's first year in office, this public subsidizing of private profit is becoming something of habit. ... This is not just bad policy, it's bad politics."
- Not so fast, syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer writes for the UExpress blog network. She says overzealous critics need to cut Obama a break. "Obama is smart and elegant and decent, but I fear to tell you, my fellow citizens, that he remains only a man," Geyer writes. “The bunnies he can pull out of his top hat are no more consequent than any magician's, but the long-range change he is trying desperately to set in motion is very, very real.”
- Whether Obama can untangle the Copenhagen, health care and finance messes is also heavily dependent on his team of insiders and political infrastructure, Mark Schmitt writes for the liberal-leaning American Prospect. If Obama's base doesn't help him out, he will fail. “And the fault will lie not in our star but in ourselves," Schmitt writes.
- So much for the new politics, Jennifer Rubin writes for the right-leaning Commentary magazine. Not only is Obama not living up to his campaign promises, he's also jeopardizing the future of the Democratic party by abandoning bipartisanship, she writes. The president has adopted the "worst qualities" of his "hyper-partisan predecessors" by attacking Republican opposition to his proposals, Rubin writes.