Ahh, the honeymoon period of the presidency. What an apt name for the first 100 days of office. The president has all kinds of policy passed while America looks on starry-eyed. This honeymoon is not yet finished between the president and his ball-and-chain of a country, but as we move through its last month, let’s take a moment to reminisce about how much the happy lovers have learned about each other.
The engagement on Nov. 4 was spectacular, and the wedding on Jan. 20 a ceremony never to be forgotten. America looked so beautiful as a bride with all that radiance in every one of her faces, and the groom articulated vows of solemn promise.
The honeymoon then began as a local one because the entirety of America does not travel well. Luckily she stocked some Democrats in Congress to help support her new husband’s plans — and boy have those plans been flying from President Barack Obama’s office.
The first thing any honeymoon needs is a bit of, ahem, stimulus. However, foreplay in the manner of pleasing the financial market with a bank bailout did not reliably arouse warmth from America’s credit. The so-called bailout bill bounced around the houses for a bit and was not met with growth from Wall Street. America was getting all the attention, literally rolling in free money and still not taking off.
Like any creative husband on a honeymoon, Obama tried different approaches to please his new bride. In terms of pleasing her markets and individual households’ pocketbooks, on Feb. 17, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Designed to jumpstart the economy, it invests in beneficial initiatives, costs roughly $787 billion, and — in addition to infrastructure, unemployment, and state budget stabilization — allocates funds for education, parks and wildlife, and the department of defense. If massaging one area with money didn’t work, then try somewhere else, eh? Though intended to “jumpstart,” this bill was more of a mini-budget with a sense of urgency behind it.
Apparently unable to buy love, Obama spent some political capital on more-ideological issues. In February, he announced the discontinuation of the detention facility at Guanatnamo Bay, Cuba and relabeled the “enemy combatants” as “detainees.” In March, the president made a nod to the left by facilitating stem cell research. In the international arena, President Obama addressed Iran with a cautioned opportunity for diplomacy. Rethinking the strategy in Afghanistan, Obama considered reaching out to the less hardcore members of the Taliban and peeling them away from violence. All of these actions were reminders to America that she chose a man drastically different than her ex-husband.
Of course, the differences are due mostly to promises made in the 20-month courting phase of the relationship. While wooing America, Obama always had to take in political considerations. Not everything was different about the new man in the White House; Obama vowed to pull out of Iraq on a timeline while still keeping a sizeable stabilizing force on the ground. This echo of Bush, however, was tempered by additional military promises to end the Stop-Loss program, which extended deployments of military reserves. As a commander in chief, Obama deployed 17,000 troops to Afghanistan in February. The refocus was different, but the expectation of world peace with a new man was a bit too rosy.
The honeymoon, though, continues. In Congress, friends of the groom are able to support a large amount of what Obama wants to do. America still cheers, even though Obama slipped up on the Late Night Show with a joke about the Special Olympics. Searches for “Obama dog” outnumbered “xxx” for a short period of time, but America’s rapt attention is waning. Time and the starriness of America’s eyes, however, is running out.
Money always causes problems for couples during the first year of marriage. This one is no different. Since America is incredibly disorganized and has terrible credit, she left the fiscal responsibility to him. The budget from the president promises (among many things) another $250 billion for more bank bailouts, $576 billion from an alternative minimum tax, and an additional $330 billion for Medicare. These big-ticket items are exactly what America asked for. Then again, America is good at asking for goods without wanting to pay for them. America threw a democratic fit about the budget. The Congressional Budget Office projected another $2.3 trillion dollars added to the deficit across ten years, and congress cut additional bank bailouts after the continued oversight — or lack thereof — failed to thaw the credit freeze.
So the new couple is set for a very rough year. America is finding it increasingly difficult to keep herself employed. Friends of her ex-husband grow more and more outspoken and bitter. The world is not greeting the new man with unconditional peace and harmony. Obama still hasn’t figured out how to stimulate America.
With such an exhausting honeymoon, it’s scary to think how the couple will look after four years.