This is not a list of petty controversies or allegations of corruption. It is not stories about Obama’s personal life, background, or his not helping family members in dire need, no gaffes, no “fearmongering,” no speculation. This isn’t even an ideological article; it is simply a list of ten areas or situations in which Obama has failed in a way that does not warrant a second term.
Quality of life: Talk of the economy, unemployment and welfare is little more than an indirect discussion of one of the most fundamental issues in politics, quality of life. Even discussion of wealth inequality is based in people’s dissatisfaction with their own quality of life. The simple fact is that people’s quality of life is lower than it was four years ago, with higher unemployment, lower pay even in employed families, small businesses and family farmers fearful of closing down, people being unable to retire, the cost of gas, and the increasing cost of health insurance, among other factors. The average family is making less and forced to pay more for basic needs than four years ago. When people’s quality of life is deteriorating, that is fundamental economic failure.
Benghazi: Though new information is rapidly being made public, this is the current summation of what Americans know about the first successful terrorist attack against the US since 9/11/2001, which occurred eleven years later, to the day. Republicans voted to decrease funding for embassy security; Democrats spent funds for such endeavors as making the Vienna Embassy green, and putting security in Barbados, while Ambassador Chris Stevens’ requests for security were unanswered. President Obama, meanwhile, missed over half of his security briefings. On September 11th, the embassy was attacked, by people who were within two hours identified as terrorists with Al Qaida connections. Drones in the area had the ability to provide a live video feed of the attack to the White House, while military backup was requested. It would have taken just over an hour for the backup to arrive, but the order was never given, and over the course of six hours, four Americans were brutally murdered. The White House went on to spend the next two weeks discussing a video, until finally disclosing that it was terrorism. The father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods has discussed the incident, calling the president’s lack of action in the attack cowardly.
Fast and Furious: The effect of this scheme was giving Mexican Drug Cartels approximately 2,000 automatic weapons. The guns were subsequently used to kill American Border Agent Brian Terry, who was armed with bean bags fighting them. Univision also found the guns being used in other horrendous crimes, such as the murders of 18 Mexican Teenagers. The original intention was to trace the guns back to the cartel leaders, but was not followed up on. The Justice Department subsequently refused to release documents related to the incident, with the administration invoking executive privilege. “Many weapons cross the border and enter Mexico, but that number, quantity and type of weapons had quite an impact in the war in this area” said ATF agent Jose Wall in an interview with Univision.
Flag@whitehouse.gov: This scandal was short-lived, occurring over the course of two months in 2009, and has therefore not played significantly into the rhetoric of this election. It is, nonetheless, noteworthy, because it indicates the same type of indiscretion Obama has shown in both domestic and foreign policy. In the midst of the healthcare debate, a site and email address were set up where people could report people who opposed the law, the arguments they used, and where they were spreading their “misinformation.”
Bin Laden, the SEALS, and Dr. Shakil Afridi: The capture and execution of Osama Bin Laden has been the central accomplishment highlighted in defense of Obama’s foreign policy, and he should have been killed. The problem comes with the president’s conduct after the event. The White House leaked information leading to the identification, capture, and life imprisonment of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the US to find Bin Laden and who is, along with his family, receiving death threats. He also leaked the identity and location of SEAL Team 6, nearly two dozen members of which were killed shortly afterward. The accomplishment of killing Bin Laden is outweighed by the callous indiscretions and tragic consequences directly resulting from Obama’s politicization of the event. SEAL Team 6 members have released a video about Obama’s reckless conduct in military affairs.
Iran’s Green Revolution: A year before unrest in Libya, Tunesia and Egypt marked the Arab Spring, before Twitter got a Nobel Peace Prize for its involvement in protests in the region, and before Obama supported rebels in the countries to the point of bombing Libya, Iran’s Green Revolution began. In contrast to the other countries, Obama was virtually silent on the protests, saying that he did not want to involve America in the protests, though he was “deeply troubled” by the protests. Protesters had even asked Obama and the West for help in overthrowing their oppressive government. Twitter brought news of the revolution to the world, including an image of a young woman, Neda, being shot in the chest. Mere months later, though, the US was pursuing diplomatic relations with the country’s government. This included invitations to Independence Day events at US embassies which were, naturally, rejected.
Bipartisanship: When Obama first took office, he did so with a Democrat supermajority in both the house and senate. The actions taken in those years were unpopular enough to give rise to the Tea Party, and cause the House majority to shift to the Republicans in 2010, with even historically strongly liberal places such as Massachusetts and New York electing Republican Senators and Congressmen. This renders rhetoric which argues that Obama faced too much congressional opposition to accomplish what he wanted to, not only empty, but a specific refusal to engage in bipartisanship when politicians on the other side of the aisle clearly reflect the will of the people.
The avenger mentality in foreign policy: Obama has used this type of rhetoric since 2008, regarding Osama Bin Laden, . He has used the death of one man as evidence that the US had achieved victory. After Benghazi, Obama began expressing similar ideas about the people who conducted that attack. He expresses similar ideas about Israel, saying that killing Bin Laden was his top national security priority. He extended this to Israel in the 2012 debates, saying that he would stand with Israel against Iran “if Israel is attacked.” The point of foreign policy is not vengeance. It is protecting Americans and American interests, something which requires forethought and planning rather than emotional reactions. Preventing or stopping Benghazi would be successful foreign policy, avenging it is not.
Energy: Energy prices have skyrocketed under Obama. Oil production may be up overall, but that is despite the president’s actions, not because of them. He has pursued criminal action against the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota for killing 25 birds, while windmills kill thousands of birds and bats each year. Production is down on federal lands, and though some of this is explained by the Gulf Oil Spill, much of it is not. Obama’s policies of drilling bans and decreasing oil permits on federal land have had a negative impact on traditional energy production. EPA regulations under Obama have also been crippling for coal, with Democrat Nick Rahall saying that they present the toughest obstacles for the coal industry in his 36 year career, and that this happened because coal producing regions are seen as politically expendable. Obama’s campaign, however, has been largely based on pursuing green energy, though 34 of the green energy companies receiving government money under Obama have gone bankrupt or are approaching bankruptcy. An all of the above energy policy must be truly all of the above, and successfully implemented, both for the jobs in the industry and to keep prices low for the rest of the population.
Whatever the reasons Obama gives for his shortcomings, he came into office with very little experience, and he has been ineffective at solving the basic problems facing everyday people at home and abroad. Elections are about the quality of life of people, not about personalities, and though Obama has gotten a lot of political support for being a “great guy,” that argument rings empty when great people across the country, and indeed the world, are suffering. The excuse of an “inherited mess” is not persuasive. Obama campaigned for and accepted the job of president, and must be held accountable for his failures, especially when other people suffer the consequences.
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