Since his first day as president, Barack Obama has faced a combination of economic and foreign policy crises not seen by any recent American leader.
He came into office as the nation teetered on the edge of a severe economic recession triggered by the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank. He then led the efforts to keep the United States out of another Great Depression with The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February, 2009. Although the general U.S. economy is just now beginning to gain steam, one area where his policies already have proven successful is with the revival of the American auto industry. Obama’s decision to provide loans has helped automakers to once again post profits and given them some breathing space to reorganize and become more efficient.
Another significant economic achievement for Obama, one that history may very well regard as the most important of his first term, was the passage of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law in July 2010. This legislation aims to institute the most sweeping reforms of the financial industry since the Great Depression by curbing the excesses that many feel substantially contributed to the current state of the American economy.
The Republican presidential candidates are currently arguing that because job hiring still isn’t at the same level it was prior to 2008, these economic policies are a failure. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s didn’t end abruptly; it ended almost 10 years later with the advent of World War II. By contrast, it has only been three years since Obama became president. Given the depth of the economic crisis he faced when he first came into office, this criticism from the GOP is a clear case of not wanting to give credit where credit is due for all that he has already accomplished. In addition, as the economy improves, the Republican candidates are now sounding like they don’t like good economic news because an improved economy hurts their chances of getting elected. Unfortunately for them, after years of hearing bad financial reports, Americans do want to hear good news and according to recent polls, are beginning to give Obama credit where credit is due.
While dealing daily with the economic crisis, Obama also provided the leadership for the passage of health care reform. In spite of fierce opposition from Republicans, he persevered in his determination to enact universal health care, a goal of several U.S. Presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Some of the notable mandates of The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, include eliminating insurance companies’ dollar limits and providing coverage for Americans who had previously been denied due to pre-existing conditions. This legislation has faced several legal challenges and as of this writing will be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court during 2012. Regardless of the outcome, Obama succeeded in getting health care reform passed into law, something several presidents have tried and failed to do in the past.
Obama’s foreign policy over the past three years has also been marked by successes where past presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have failed. Most famously, he authorized the mission that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden, a moment that led New York City firefighters to show thumbs up while they were riding through the streets of Manhattan. He also provided the leadership that led to the ratification of the new START Treaty with Russia. A third accomplishment has been the crucial re-establishment of strong ties with America’s allies. Nowhere was this more evident than with the crisis in Libya, where Obama let NATO take the lead, resulting in the overthrow of a dictatorial regime which had plagued previous U.S. Presidents for decades.
And finally, there is the end to the war in Iraq. Obama lived up to his 2008 campaign promise to end American participation in the conflict, leaving it up to the Iraqi people to finally control their own destiny. It was a graceful end to a war that has caused the United States much in money and lives lost that can never be replaced. However, even with this war over and the one in Afghanistan drawing closer to the end, there is never any end to foreign policy dilemmas for an American president. Obama now faces another one with Iran and Israel, a potentially dangerous situation with enormous worldwide impact.
With the United States facing a challenging future, Barack Obama has proven that he is the perfect president for our times. A man of superior intellect, he has demonstrated incredible self-restraint and leadership dealing with the worst economic situation since the Great Depression. At the same time he has forged the most successful foreign policy in a generation. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, no stranger to American Presidents, wrote in his recent autobiography “A Journey” that Barack Obama is “a man with steel in every part of him.” The United States has been very well-served by that steel.
Recent polls show Obama leading the Republican presidential candidates. American voters are now recognizing both the depth of the problems that he has faced, and are expressing their appreciation for his efforts to solve them.
President Barack Obama most certainly deserves re-election.