Obama had a very bad week if you listen to the media. He met with Russian President, Putin, to discuss Syria. Syria is weighing on all our minds, but is a conundrum. Assad is a bad leader but the groups arrayed against him are the confusing part. There does not seem to be one group of rebels and Al-Qaeda is possibly involved. There is no clear image of what result Syrians have in mind beyond getting rid of Assad. Egypt hasn’t done very well with their unfocused revolution. They got rid of Mubarak and ended up with a military dictatorship which doesn’t look like it is going away.
This week we got word that a ship filled with Russian arms was headed towards Syria. After we got crazy about this we were told that the Russian arms were possibly headed to a Russian base to reinforce it. We also hear that the CIA may be supplying weapons to Syria. Then we get the photo op picture of Putin leaning away from Obama as Obama leans towards the Russian leader and the media suddenly are experts in reading cross-cultural body language, so they intimate that Putin wants no part of whatever Obama is offering and that Putin is distancing himself from Obama. Obama later says that the media did not have enough insight into this exchange to make a proper interpretation, but the photo is out there and so is the commentary.
Eric Holder was held in contempt this week for refusing to supply additional paperwork about “fast and furious” to The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating him, a committee heavily weighted with Republicans. Obama stood behind his Attorney General and used his power of executive privilege to deny access to any more paperwork but we are left wondering if this is an issue of national security or merely a cover-up. None of us are happy with what we have heard about “fast and furious” (although this program began under Bush but was known by the name Project Gunrunner). Allowing American guns to end up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels with the end result that an American Border Guard is killed by an American weapon – this shocked us. What could possibly be the point of arming drug runners with American weapons? Were we hoping to trace them as they left a trail of death across Mexico? It makes you want to slap your head and “what were they thinking”? However, it is entirely possible that the Republican Party has engineered the timing of this investigation to coincide with the latter stages of the 2012 election. If Eric Holder resigns, as Republicans want him to do, Obama loses another of his team of experts that came with him to the White House, some of the responsibility for this “fast and furious” fiasco taints Obama. Furthermore the House does not have to worry about doing the things we need them to do like pass the transportation bill and make sure that college loan interest rates don’t double, because they are busy turning Eric Holder into a criminal and tarring Obama with the same brush.
We also hear that things did not go well at the meeting of the G20. What could possibly go well with any meeting right now that purports to deal with the global economy? Europe just made their most recent moves and is in waiting mode. Five American banks were just downgraded. There is not much good news out there for anyone. The Republicans act like they could do better. They are firmly on board with the Paul Ryan budget and they think it is a magic bullet. Well don’t believe them. There is no magic bullet to reverse the economic changes which are rocking our world right now. We do need to spend much more carefully than we have in the past. We need to make very careful decisions about where an influx of dollars will do the most good and we have to tighten our belts in other areas. But the Republicans and Paul Ryan are obsessed with the idea that privatizing everything is the answer for America. Read the Gail Collins article from the NYT for 6/21/2012. Read the Paul Krugman article from the NYT for 6/22/12. At least get another point of view before you decide to go all out for the gospel according to Paul Ryan.
The Republican Party has also continued with its campaign for preventing Obama from accomplishing anything. They then act very upset when Obama does an end run around them to make any little baby step that can count as progress. This time Obama made his Immigration Policy Decision to allow young illegal immigrants in America to extend their stay for 2 years at a time. This allows these young people to plan a future. This decision on the part of Obama gave Republicans an opening to rant that Obama trashes the American Constitution for political gain. It also allows the GOP to deplore the use of a stopgap solution instead of a real, long term solution to the problem of illegal immigrants. The only plan I have heard from Republicans is centered on deportation. The GOP is trying to make this a jobs issue. They are saying that Obama has not created jobs for Americans or illegal immigrants and they are trying to get people riled up because these illegals will now be competing for the few jobs that are available. I have to give the Republicans credit; they never waste an opportunity for spin.
So Obama, you made it through a very tough week and the only good thing that happened, according to the media, is that the Supreme Court did not make the Affordable Health Care Plan unconstitutional yet. Maybe all this negativity in one week will set up your karma for a more positive week during the last week of June. Hang in there. We also realize that your week may not have been as negative as the media painted it.