It’s still too early to make a final judgment but the administration of America’s first black President may go down in history as a triumph of style over substance.
Barack Obama’s charisma charms the hell out of most of the American public, the mainstream media and even hardened political pundits. He’s a powerful speaker, an articulate politician and an adept manipulator who has built an image that has mesmerized a nation and most of the world.
But style alone cannot deal effectively with the many problems that face this nation. Articulate rhetoric is not enough to lead America. When you get past Obama the image and take a close, hard look at Obama the President, you come away wondering if America simply replaced a right-wing problem with one from the left.
In too many ways, Barack Oama is a left-wing George W. Bush.
Bush came into office promising to unite the country. So did Obama. Bush governed as a strident partisan. Obama’s promises of bipartisanship have disappeared and his actual job performance is now as partisan on the left as Bush’s was on the right.
Bush promised "the most ethical administration in history." He delivered one of the most corrupt. Obama promised an administration free of lobbyists and typical Washington politicians schooled in the old way of doing things. His administration is filled with old Washington hacks and — yep — even lobbyists.
Obama promised to rid this nation of the Constitutional abuses of the Bush administration but he has continued the legally-questionable rendition policies of his predecessor. Such policies violate international law and American constitutional experts like Jonathan Turley say the Obama administration continues to wade through "murky legal waters" when it comes to abuses of the Constitution.
Obama promised an "open administration" but reporters and watchdog groups are finding the new boss is the same as the old boss when it comes to access to documents that detail the inner workings of our government.
Some who defend Obama’s retrenchments say things like "well, no candidate keeps their campaign promises" and "you can’t expect the rhetoric of the campaign to translate into real policy when it comes to governing."
With most candidates, perhaps, but Barack Obama promised to be different from most candidates. He promised to fundamentally change the way Washington worked. Instead of being the new kid on the block with new ideas and new ways of doing things, he has become another good old boy in the Washington political system.
Centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans who intially thought Obama would govern from the center find, to their dismay, that he took a sharp left turn after taking the oath of office and now promotes a hard-core, leftist agenda.
The first cracks may be appearing in Obama’s style-over-substance approach to government. A New York Times-CBS poll shows 58 percent of Americans think the President is mishandling the banking crisis but he continues to have record high marks in other areas.
Americans are a fickle bunch when it comes to support of our leaders. Obama wins now on style but if he doesn’t show substance beneath all the hype, hoopla and rhetoric he may well be a one-term President who will go down in history as just another politician who promised a lot and delivered little.