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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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