Barack Obama does it again.
After one full-year of failure in almost every single policy initiatives he has taken in foreign or domestic politics, he still wins the hearts of millions by a simple speech that he made while addressing the joint session of US Congress last Wednesday. However strong arguments one might have to claim that Obama had a terrible first year in the presidency, Obama still arrived on Capitol Hill with a license given by the U.S. Constitution to tell about the state of the union – and he did it once more near flawlessly.
A year ago, Obama was elected and ushered into office to change the usual divisions in the politics of Washington. However, he has ended up achieving the exact opposite objective so far while trying to pass his health care reform package during the past year. The health care bill is still hanging in the air of Congress like a fireball and is an embarrassment to Obama himself, his administration and the still-devastated U.S. economy.
Obama followed the path of predecessor George W. Bush to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq and rapidly raised the overall number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan with a strategy that tends to change quiet often. “There has been enough fighting,” said Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan in an interview with The Financial Times a few days ago.
Not only McChrystal but Bob Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, or Kai Eide, the U.N. special representative in Afghanistan, but everyone started to talk about taking the Taliban into consideration in Afghanistan while finally thinking about the big picture.
Seymour Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author based in Washington who uncovered the naked torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison several years ago and played a watchdog role on his own during the Bush administration years, paying close attention to the global war on terrorism. He said during an interview for "Studio Washington" this week, which will be broadcast this coming Monday, that he sees a 180 degrees of mistaken policies when it comes to the strategy in Afghanistan.
And he adds that he could bet on every single bone in his body that the current Obama administration is probably pursuing many policies of the Bush's global war against jihadism. And again, according to Hersh, there is a lot of bad blood between some officials in the White House and the Pentagon because of what is going on in Afghanistan. However, he added, he doesn't think Obama would do anything about it.
After listening to the Obama speech carefully, one thinks how can a person who understands America's issues and explains them so well have been so useless for the past year? Still, the speech came at right about the time when the majority of the independent pundits in America, who have begun to doubt Obama for his “can do” rhetoric, were about to lose all the hope and patience they reserved for him.
Obama finally admitted how bad the first year was in terms of the Arab/Israeli peace process – a top foreign agenda of his administration – during an interview that was published in Time magazine the week before the State of the Union speech. The substance of the admittance was worse than the act itself.
In the confession, Obama said, "This is just really hard ... I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that. And so what we're going to have to do – I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn't produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high."
In this testimony, Obama confesses that he had no idea what he was getting into while making that beautifully choreographed speech in Cairo. Now Obama regrets, and claims that if he had known better what was going on in the region at that time, he probably would not have chosen to utter the most courageous words that world ever heard from a U.S. president regarding the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Contrary to the Bush-era State of the Union speeches, Obama only allocated about one-tenth of his speech to discussing foreign affairs. There was so little focus on the outside sphere; by itself, this is evidence of how much the superpower of the world is bogged down with its own domestic affairs. The urgency of the matters within the States of the Union did not permit Obama to talk about foreign affairs much.
So the question is whether this speech will bring peace and bipartisanship to the capital as Obama emphasized heavily. According to Jerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal, the latest speech by Obama, which was to give a lesson to the opposition, might just backfire.
The Republicans so far has been winning by sitting tight and fiercely opposing nearly anything. With losing the super majority in the Senate a week before the speech, the Democrats have been going through a power shortage as one commentator put it.
Therefore, as great as the speech that was delivered almost flawlessly by Obama, that might be the last grand one in which he still begs to reach a bipartisanship spirit in Washington. From now on, the sides might start learning to sharpen swords instead of pursuing what seems to be the intention of Obama’s speech.