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Susan Estrich
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The Second Time Around

Comment

It is hard to remember how much better things are in America today than they were four years ago when Barack Obama took the oath of office for the first time.

Then, we were in the middle of two raging wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

Now, one of those wars is ending, the other is over, and the most hated and feared man in recent times, Osama bin Laden, is dead.

Then, we were in the throes of an economy on a dizzying downward slide, the worst and most frightening recession since the Great Depression.

Now, while many of our fellow citizens are still looking for work and can't find it, or are working in jobs that don't meet their wants and needs, unemployment is heading downward and housing prices are heading upward.

It may not be "morning in America" — the theme of Ronald Reagan's successful reelection campaign in 1984 — but it is not midnight, either. We did not go over the fiscal cliff.

So why doesn't it feel better?

When I think back on the first Obama inauguration, it seemed to be a moment of optimism and celebration.

When I think on this one, it was Monday. I almost forgot to turn on the speech. It seemed like a very nice speech, but if you asked me to remember a single line just one day later, I'd be stumped.

When I asked other people what they thought of it all, I heard more opinions about Michelle's new hairdo (the bangs — people loved them or hated them; does she really look like Flip Wilson's long-lost twin) than about the president's words or the power of the moment.

There is an old saying in Washington that watching legislation get through Congress is like watching sausage being made.

Not pretty.

But it's not just the legislative process that has turned ugly and off-putting. It's almost everything that has anything to do with politics. It's the endless fundraising and spending and attacking; the endless noise of screaming extremism; the nastiness of virtually every aspect of our political life, intensified by the constancy of the drone.

I used to love politics. I spent much of my youth reading political novels and dreaming of the day when I would go to Washington and change the world, the day when I would know my way around the halls of Congress, see inside the White House, be a part of it. I will never forget my first summer as an intern in Washington, the thrill of all that, up close. I will never forget the first time I walked into the White House, the West Wing, when a friend was working there. I pinched myself. Susan Estrich, from Lynn, in the West Wing? Only in America.

I don't love politics anymore. As my mother would say, what's to love? It's always been a tough business, but now it's beyond tough. It's mean and ugly and nasty, and too many of those playing it seem to have forgotten that the game is not the thing.

Obama kept more of the promises he made in his first inaugural address than most presidents. He tackled the failing economy, the unpopular and expensive wars, the needs of millions of Americans for access to health care. He got things done. And I expect he will continue to do so, as he always has, by picking off the necessary handfuls of Republicans he needs in the House and Senate.

He has figured out how to work the system — not change it.

This is not the business I fell in love with, even when my side is winning. And I have no faith, none, that one man, the one sworn in on Monday, the embodiment of hope just four short years ago, can change that.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

6 Comments | Post Comment
Ms. Estrich wrote: "Obama kept more of the promises he made in his first inaugural address than most presidents."

Do you have any facts to back up this statement? I'm not sure how I would even go about testing this in a quantitative manner. What constitutes a "promise"? How do you decide if a promise has been "kept"? Why is keeping promises a good thing if they have bad consequences? Is the number of promises you keep important or is it the magnitude of the promises kept? Etc...

The bottom line is that this comment is highly dependent on the individual making the measurement. Don't be surprised if about half of the US population thinks it is dead wrong.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:14 AM
I seem to think that Susan would be happy if BHO WERE the king with no more expensive elections and no sausage making legislature.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:48 AM
The clown prince's record of abject failure.
1. Unemployed Americans on inauguration day 2009 12.0 millions same day in 2013 13.1 millions up 1.1 million
2. Unemployment rate ditto 7.8% in 2013 8.5% an increase of 9%
3. Gas price ditto $1.85, same day 2013 $3.39 an increase of 83%
4. Federal debt $10.6 trillion same day 2013 $16.2 trillion an increase of 52%
5. Food stamp recipients ditto 32 million same say 2013 46 millions an increase of 45%
6. Americans in poverty ditto 39.8 million same day 2013 46.2 million an increase of 43%
7. Home values average ditto $169,700 same day 2013 $147,000 down 13%
8. US global competitiveness ditto 1st same day 2013 5th dropped four places
Records set by the clown prince.
1. US debt downgrade. First ever.
2. Federal spending 25% of GDP highest since WWII
3. 58.1% of population employed, lowest since 1983.
4. Long term unemployment highest since 1930s
5 Percentage paying federal income tax 49% lowest in modern era.
6. Government dependency 47% highest in American history.
What a success! Second time around? Look for more records and more decline as the economy destroying effects of obamacare starts to really impact everyone.
On the numbers, Obama is, has been and always will be a stuttering stumbling clusterf*ck of a miserable failure.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:29 AM
Obamas speech seemed to make republicans want to blow chunks and it seemed like an LSD injection for democrats. It made them very happy, but dislocated from reality. The reality on the war front is the Obama has increased military spending evey year, passed the NDAA, ordered troop surges in Afganistan, expanded the drone program, killed many innocent civilians, has a secret kill list, and he only gave the illusion of ending the Iraq war.

The economy is as dismal as ever. Umemployment has never gone below 8% (expect for when they admitted the cooked the numbers). And thats only the fake number. The real number is closer to double that. Many fact checkers have come to the conclusion that Obama has actually broken far more promises than kept. Also, he added 5 trillion in debt and did 3 QE's which put the economy on shakey ground with few people actually realizing it. It short, Bush's third term was a disaster, and now we start his fourth.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:40 AM
Obamas speech seemed to make republicans want to blow chunks and it seemed like an LSD injection for democrats. It made them very happy, but dislocated from reality. The reality on the war front is the Obama has increased military spending evey year, passed the NDAA, ordered troop surges in Afganistan, expanded the drone program, killed many innocent civilians, has a secret kill list, and he only gave the illusion of ending the Iraq war.

The economy is as dismal as ever. Umemployment has never gone below 8% (expect for when they admitted the cooked the numbers). And thats only the fake number. The real number is closer to double that. Many fact checkers have come to the conclusion that Obama has actually broken far more promises than kept. Also, he added 5 trillion in debt and did 3 QE's which put the economy on shakey ground with few people actually realizing it. It short, Bush's third term was a disaster, and now we start his fourth.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:40 AM
Susan, where are you living? My business is taking in half of what it used to, even with many prices doubled. Customers are walking out, saing they may be back when they can afford what they obviously need. Many never come back. Many of my friends and custonmers are working harder at shorter hours; one is in a business that used to have 11 people that now has 3. We are surviving by the skin our our teeth and scared of the future. This is NOT BETTER!!!
Comment: #6
Posted by: partsmom
Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:17 PM
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