Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obama's Grade

President Obama went on Oprah recently, and in a scene heavily replayed, graded his administration, so far, as "a solid B+".

I have to differ: although I would grade what has been done so far very highly--maybe higher than a B+--if I were grading him at this point, I could not report any mark at all: It has to be an Incomplete. Those who have been through this process know that an Incomplete implies no prejudice on the final mark; it's just that the work required to complete assessment is not finished. As a former professor at University of Chicago, Obama should know about the prevalent Incomplete grade, and he should have taken that as a diplomatic dodge to Oprah's question.

Until we see the final healthcare legislation, until something is done to commit to limitations on the US' greenhouse gas contributions, until the stimulus program is further along, until we know how the surge is going in Afghanistan, we cannot give a passing mark, though "we fully expect that Mr. Obama will do very well." Nominally, the grading period for the first year will end January 20, but I will be glad to report the Incomplete and leave it open for a few more months until he completes these tasks.

I would only criticize him for making the scope of his first-year project a bit too large with the tactical error of demanding the healthcare legislation in this first year, during the Great Crater. What has become clear through this process is that healthcare is not just 18% of domestic spending, but it also provides something like 18% of domestic jobs,and nothing can be done in the name of healthcare reform which will affect the huge growth in healthcare workers of various kinds (so many paper pushers!) during this recession.

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