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Opinion: Obama succeeds -- when Republicans let him

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Why is Barack Obama’s presidency a tale of two situations?

On the foreign-policy front, the administration has had a string of successes: Osama bin Laden killed; major Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen killed; and this week, of course, Moammar Kadafi killed.

And on Friday, the president announced that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by year’s end.

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An unpopular war will be officially over for us soon. Terrorists and terrorist groups that threaten us are dead or on the run. Libya’s longtime strongman has been overthrown, thanks in part to Obama’s policy that had the U.S. and NATO working together.

But here’s a question: If Obama has been so successful in foreign policy, why has he been so unsuccessful on domestic issues?

Sure, unemployment fell in California last month, but it’s nothing to write home about. Joblessness, foreclosures, poverty -– you know the numbers, and they’re not pretty.

Even his signature domestic achievement, healthcare reform, remains under attack by Republicans. They vow to undo it as soon as they control the White House again.

So what’s the deal?

It isn’t that he’s escaped criticism on foreign policy. Republicans -- heck, even some Democrats -- have been critical of Obama’s moves. But what he’s done has, in the main, worked.

No, domestically the problem is that Obama’s opponents have turned criticism into obstructionism. Unlike his foreign policies, Obama’s efforts to fix the economy have been thwarted at every turn by Republicans.

Take the president’s jobs bill. As The Times reported:

Republican-led opposition in the Senate blocked a key element of President Obama’s jobs plan Thursday night -- a proposal to send $35 billion to cash-strapped states to keep public school teachers, police and firefighters on the job.

That’s right. Republicans won’t even agree to spend $35 billion on teachers, police and firefighters.

And why not?

Republicans are fighting the measures because they do not believe such government efforts will help businesses to create jobs in the struggling economy. They also oppose asking those earning beyond $1 million a year to pay more.

Yes, protecting people making more than $1 million a year is far more important that saving a $35,000-a-year teaching job, wouldn’t you say?

The bottom line? It’s wrong to say the president’s domestic policies haven’t worked when those policies haven’t even been given the chance to work.

Abroad, Obama has been allowed to set policy, and those policies have been given time to work. And, for the most part, they have.

Perhaps if Republicans gave the president that same leeway on domestic policy, we might be winning some battles at home, too.

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-- Paul Whitefield


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