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OVBIAGELE: Assessing Obama’s major moves of ’09

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EmilAs the curtains of the year drape down, I want to evaluate 2009’s biggest political landmark — Barack Obama being elected president of the United States of America. Here’s how he’s handled the following issues.

Guantanamo Bay

Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within just two days of taking office was the right decision, but a rushed one. It takes more than just a bold proclamation to close a detention facility as sensitive as Guantanamo Bay.

The torturing of the prisoners at various detention facilities did smear America’s image, and rightfully so. After all, the buzzword of the year was waterboarding.

But Obama forgot to test the waters before taking a dive into the various uncertainties of closing the facilities. The practicality had to be just as effective as the idea.

Economic Recession

It’s no secret that Obama inherited an ailing and battered economy. Loss of jobs, reduction in spending and foreclosures seemed to rain on the president’s parade.

In February, Obama approved a bailout of $787 billion to help stimulate the economy. Although unemployment numbers continue to rise, it is conceivable to say it could have been a lot worse.

No one can indeed punish the man for a lack of effort. Maybe recovery hasn’t been quick enough, but that’s the subjective part. How quick is quick enough?

Job losses have been drastically reduced, the country’s GDP recently grew for the first time since the second quarter of 2008, spending rose and stock markets came around. The economy sure hasn’t bounced back, but it is recovering.

Health Care

This was the issue of the year. No one can accuse the commander in chief of not being on the neck of lawmakers to pass health care reform.

One might now question what the president wants. Obama has moved away from a firm stance on what he wanted. Now it seems like anything would do.

And as much as the president’s persistence is admirable, his wavering has angered some. A health care reform without a public option is not reform to me at all.

Foreign Relations

Obama has been able to redirect the dangerous course of America’s foreign relations, perhaps his most astonishing accomplishment thus far. His respectful speeches and gestures have won the hearts of many world leaders.

From his Cairo speech to the Muslim world to his first U.N. speech, Obama has been a worthy PR agent of America.

He understands that in a world of rising powers, diplomatic communication is an essential for survival — a relationship with other countries where America listens. For all who think such a relationship is condescending, get a life.

The Wars

Some of Obama’s many inheritances from the Bush administration were the two wars in the Middle East.

Although the troops aren’t home yet, the president has shown his unwavering support for this goal. Obama’s Afghanistan war policy made it clear that he understands the sensitivity of the issue and is committed to bringing troops home soon — for the first time we got a tangible date.

Issues like the Nobel Peace Prize and the Olympics are background noise. They weren’t promises and so should not factor in one’s judgment of Obama’s presidency so far. If they’re a factor for you, then you might as well analyze his precision at killing flies.

It’s true there are a lot of issues the president still hasn’t touched on, but we must remember it’s only been a year. The president has planted seeds, and we should wait for the harvest period before criticizing the yield.

Also, one must realize that the effort is just as important as the result. One thing you can’t accuse the man of is a lack of effort. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Food For Thought: As the year ends, be grateful for the little steps forward and don’t be saddened by the giant leaps you could have made.

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