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Tough marks for Obama from CMCI Lecturer

Last Wednesday, on the first anniversary of the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama, CMCI Lecturer Dr. Harvey G. Cohen was asked by Metro International newspapers in Sweden and Denmark to produce a report card for Obama, judging his performance so far in five categories, with one sentence for each category (not a lot of room for nuance!).  For those of you conversant in Swedish, here is the piece; the Denmark piece in embedded in this post.

Need an English translation?  Cohen criticised Obama and his PR people for allowing “right-wing Republican zealots” to define his health care plan, which spread numerous falsehoods about the plan, and damaged its chances at being passed; Cohen took him to task for taking too much time in passing meaningful regulation of banks and investment firms, allowing financially risky behaviour to again threaten the world’s economy.  He also commented on Obama’s new Afghanistan war strategy:  “if the US could not defeat an insurgency in Vietnam with more than 500,000 soldiers, how can they expect to do it with one-quarter as many in a rugged country more than twice as large?”

But Cohen awarded Obama good marks for his Cairo speech, which redefined America’s stance on terrorism, for his efforts to repair and elevate the image of the United States overseas, and for his progress in dismantling the Guantamano prison camp — he has released the majority of its detainees, even if he was not able to close it as quickly as he promised he would.  

Overall, Cohen awarded the President a B-minus grade, but with the recent election of a Republican senator in the state of Massachusetts, Obama has lost his filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and will now face an even tougher time getting his agenda enacted.  The gridlock that plagued and characterised American national politics from 1995-2000 may be returning for an encore in 2010.

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