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I quote Robin Hanson in his entirety:

Set Obama’s Bar

We’ve heard a lot of hyperbole about how Bush was the “Worst. President. Ever.” and Obama’s inauguration is the most exciting in a half century. So to avoid future bias, this is a good time to ask yourself: where do you set Obama’s bar? That is, what does Obama have to do for you to consider him a “good” president, or even better than Bush? It is enough for you that he is (part) black and a Democrat? Or does he actually have to do something? Or are those already insurmountable barriers to you?

For most any president today, odds are that we’d:

* be mostly out of our moderately deep recession in four years,
* add some symbolic financial rules that mostly lets old games continue,
* mostly watch as Israel, Russia, and China throw more weight around,
* mismanage another Katrina because governments are just bad at that,
* go deeper in debt “stimulating” and “bailing” because politicians love to spend,
* not much relax homeland security or immigration because we’re still scared of terrorists,
* mildly pull out of Iraq since the war has been going well lately but we don’t like to look weak,
* do little on carbon emissions or the coming Medicare train wreck as those are very expensive, and
* not reform medicine or education or welfare more than Bush’s Medicare drug benefit and “no child left behind,” or Clinton’s welfare reform, as those were unusually big changes.

So will Obama be great (or terrible) if he just follows this least-resistence path and adds a few cheap symbolic moves on stem cell research funding, gay marriage, torture definitions, wiretap limitations, or foreign abortion funding? And would that be enough for a non-black or non-Democrat?

I’d add an additional question – name a single policy of Obama that you understand right now, and how is it different from his predecessor?

5 Responses to “W.W.O.D.”

  1. Patrick says:

    Easy. I’ll name several.

    Obama wants to repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell. Bush supported Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell. Obama opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Bush supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Obama supports gay adoption rights, Bush prohibited gay adoption rights. That’s a pretty clear-cut difference.

    Bush’s foreign policy was hawkish and stressed DoD over State Department, Obama’s foreign policy emphasizes State over Dod. Both wanted to pull out of Iraq, d’oh, but Obama wants to do it faster. Bush depleted the National Guard by sending them oversees, a major part of the reason why we were unprepared for natural disasters as you mentioned, Obama is at least reducing this policy if not eliminating it. Whatever you’ve said, his foreign policy is extraordinarily different from Bush.

    Numero Uno that is a big deal for me:
    Bush said that atheists cannot be Patriots or Americans
    Obama included “and non-believers” in his inaugural address.

    Not to mention the simple fact that Bush is unable to speak a single sentence and is relatively unintelligent, whereas Obama writes his own speeches and has proved himself to be very bright.

    That’s change I can believe in anyway. As I’ve said before, his economic policies are worthless. Those are pretty similar to Bush’s, and McCain’s, and ummm everyone else’s though. As you said, it’s just a policy of “make it look like we’re doing something.” Not helpful or useful. But there’s *a lot* more to being president than economic policy. So if you judge based on intelligence, charisma, foreign policy, social policy, or any other factor Obama comes out clearly on top.

    Now what do I expect from him? I expect very little in the economic arena because it doesn’t look like he’ll do anything there. But I do expect him to do a good job in foreign policy and social policy. And, as big as the financial crisis is right now, those are important things too. Hanson can call gay rights, stem cell research, and the like a few “cheap symbolic moves” but I simply disagree with him. They’re important too. And he entirely discounts foreign policy which seems rather strange to me…

  2. unowned says:

    …dear dude above me,

    1) somehow, the don’t ask don’t tell policy switch isn’t high on my priority list at the moment

    2) obama is in fact way more hawkish than bush. his chief of staff wrote a book called “the plan” a few years back that outlined plans for drafting all 18-25 year olds for mandatory service with the national guard. he has proposed doubling the number of troops in Afghanistan, while also stating that the occupation of iraq will continue indefinitely. the pentagon has announced 20,000 troops will be stationed inside the US by 2011. obama has publicly called for a national civilian military “just as strong, just as powerful” (his words) as the national guard. obama = mccain = bush = military industrial complex is still in charge.

  3. unowned says:

    don’t forget obama has already vowed to increase military activity in regards to russia, iran, and pakistan.

  4. anonymous says:

    and he didn’t write his inauguration speech himself – Jon somethingfrenchy, a 27 year old hotshot did.

  5. Patrick says:

    He wrote the first draft of his inauguration speech, then the speech writers came in and edited. That’s the opposite order from Bush and most presidents for a long time.

    Obama resolved to increase military activity in some places, and reduce it in others. The net effect is less military activity than under the Bush administration. Not to mention the obvious point that he voted against Iraq.

    I never said that I like Emmanuel, in fact I do not. He isn’t the same person as Obama, and Obama’s professed foreign policy is radically different from his. If he actually goes along with what he says, his foreign policy should be fine.

    The civilian security thing was misspoken. He was talking about a community service organization-type thing. And in any case, he has said that one (1) time. I fail to understand why you think it is impossible to believe that he will even vaguely follow promises he made over years and years, yet one incident where he spoke off-prompter is indicative of his entire foreign policy. Really?

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