News / USA

Obama Weathers Criticisms on Leadership, Economic Policies

US President Barack Obama speaks after he tours an advanced battery facility, Johnson Controls, Inc. in Holland, Michigan, August 11, 2011
US President Barack Obama speaks after he tours an advanced battery facility, Johnson Controls, Inc. in Holland, Michigan, August 11, 2011

In the past week of market turbulence, President Barack Obama faced mounting criticisms of his leadership and economic policies. Some of this came from 2012 Republican presidential candidates, but also from some prominent columnists and African-American figures. The White House has responded, as the president intensifies defenses of his policies.

Stronger critiques of Mr. Obama have come in the wake of his difficult compromise with Republicans for a $2.4 trillion deficit and debt reduction package, and amid the wildly fluctuating stock market after the U.S. creditworthiness downgrade by a major rating agency.

Critiques also focus on what most economists now agree is the fact that the president's $800 billion stimulus, passed by Congress two years ago responding to the financial crisis and recession, was insufficient to boost job growth and sustain recovery.

Among the 2012 Republican candidates seeking to replace Mr. Obama in the White House, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is using increasingly sharper language to challenge what he calls the president's lack of experience.

Romney said this at Thursday's Republican candidates debate in Iowa.

"I'm not going to eat Barack Obama's dog food. What he served up was not what I would have done if I had been president of the United States," said Romney.

Some of the harshest assessments of Mr. Obama have come from some prominent newspaper columnists who questioned the president's leadership abilities, as well as his personal empathy.

Other commentators, not to mention lawmakers in the far left of Mr. Obama's Democratic party, have questioned his determination to stand up to what the president himself has called Republican intransigence.

Mr. Obama is certainly not the first president of either major political party to face such harsh critiques at this stage in his first term.

But for the nation's first African-American president, remarks in recent months by two prominent African-American figures may have carried a more painful sting.

The outspoken Princeton University Professor Cornell West stirred controversy earlier this year by saying Mr. Obama was in danger of being "another black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs."

That's a reference to criticisms that Mr. Obama has been too close to banks and other powers on Wall Street, even as he attempts to further economic recovery and grow jobs.

Other criticism has come from prominent African-American television personality Tavis Smiley, who with West has traveled across the country in a "Poverty Tour" to, as Smiley puts it, hold Mr. Obama "accountable."

Asked about such criticisms during a recent news briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president remains focused not only on improving the economy overall, but also on those who are struggling the most.

"This president is very focused on every American who is suffering during these turbulent economic times and the policies that he has espoused and that he has pushed take into account very seriously those who are most affected," said Carney.

Despite the criticisms from these two high profile African-Americans, Mr. Obama’s support among African-Americans remains generally strong, though some recent polls show signs that such support could be weakening.

White House officials say the president remains focused on the toll that the financial crisis has taken on African-American and other minority communities, a reminder of which he received in person in July when he met with Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League.

"The black unemployment rate continues to rise, notwithstanding the fact that you do have job creation in the private sector," said Morial.

With recent stops across the country, at campaign fundraisers, and in next week's three-state bus trip in the U.S. midwest, Mr. Obama is intensifying his responses and explanations of his policies.

At a battery factory in Michigan this past week, he urged Americans to pressure members of Congress to stop what he called partisanship and gridlock that he said have undermined public confidence.

"You have got to tell them you have had enough of the theatrics, you have had enough of the politics, stop sending out press releases, start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now. That's what they need to do, they have got to hear from you."

Traveling again next week in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, including several Town Hall meetings, Mr. Obama will hear again from Americans about their frustrations with the economy.

On Friday, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he will make additional points about "the strident position" of some in Congress, a reference to Republicans and Tea Party lawmakers, to increasingly "put party ahead of country."

However, the White House said Mr. Obama also is prepared for questions he will face from some who voted for him in 2008 about compromises he has been willing to make with Republicans.

Upon his return, the president is due to leave for a 10-day vacation with his family in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

At a time of financial turmoil, would this give the wrong impression? Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters this week Americans would not "begrudge" Mr. Obama spending some time with his family, adding that in reality "there is no such thing as a presidential vacation."

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More