I started this blog over a year ago to comment on the presidency of Barack Obama. See, I had followed Obama as a freshman US senator and I admired and diligently watched his candidacy in 2008 from the never-ending primaries against Hillary Clinton to the general election campain to that unforgettable night on November 4th 2008. I actually shed some tears when Wolf Blitzer at around 11 pm EST said: “CNN can now say Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States.” I still have goose bumps just writing this down. I had hoped, maybe mistakenly in hindsight that Obama would be a different president; different from the cautious watching-the-polls-worries-about-his-re-election  mold, somebody who would challenge the economic and military establishment, somebody who would present a different face of America to the world. He has done nothing of the sort. These are some of his accomplishments so far:

He has passed a healthcare bill that while viewed as revolutionary in the US, is laughable when compared to what is available in other industrialized countries. It’s greatest value to US citizens is that it now requires the transfer of taxpayers’ dollars to private health insurances companies while demanding nothing substantial of them. They can still make substantial profits from sick Americans while adding nothing of value to the healthcare chain.

He just passed a financial regulation bill that does not prevent too big to fail scenarios and thereby leaving the door opened for a potential repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

He promised to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison but this will certainly not happen. Even if it did, other US foreign prisons such as Bagram in Afghanistan will remain open for business and renditions will continue. So will drone attacks in Pakistan and other foreign interventions in the name of “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here.”

He has made no efforts to reduce the power of money in American elections, the undeniable “Elephant in the room” preventing any meaningful progress to be made on issues like healthcare and real financial regulation.

He has done nothing for the Peace Process or for the prospect of peace in the Middle East. In fact by continually reaffirming the US attachment to Israel, he has allowed settlement expansion to proceed unhindered thereby expanding “the facts on the ground” that would stand in the way of any potential future peace deal.

He has done nothing to reduce what some have called the “Fear Industrial complex“.

He has done nothing directly to improve the lives of impoverished minorities in the US

For an American president with African roots, he has done nothing of value for the African continent with respect to improving the terms of their commercial interactions with the West. So far he even fares less than George W. Bush

Contrary to his campaign rhetoric, he has done nothing different from his predecessors to improve US relations with Iran or Cuba or Venezuela

And more importantly, he has drawn down in Iraq slightly, only to escalate the Afghan War, committing more soldiers and money to a mission that many now regard as doomed in the way Vietnam was doomed.

So, after a year and half of this presidency, I am convinced that Barack Obama will not be a transformational president.

Things can change of course, but unless a cataclysm natural or otherwise forces him to change course, at best Obama will be as conventional a president as Harry Truman or maybe Bill Clinton was. And I am not interested in staying up late to read obscure articles, gleam facts from foreign journals and read footnotes and a gazillion of political blogs for the purpose of commenting on the actions of a conventional American president. It’s been done. It is being done and one more voice will not change the course of this presidency.

So sayonara friends…

Obama was on The Hill today trying to sell his stimulus plan. The administration hopes to get more than a few Republicans on board so as to have the bill pass resoundingly in both houses. Early victories usually envigorate an administration.

Hopes indeed. There is animosity in both camps that will not disappear overnight.  Hard-core Republicans think small government, tax cuts and less regulation are the best way to stimulate an economy.   Hard-core Democrats think spending programs, more regulation and taxes are the best way to empower the government to help “working people”. These basic ideological stances are not gonna change overnight. So Obama will not get his 80 ‘Yea’ votes in the Senate this time around. But the bill will most likely pass easily.

The signal Obama’s visit on The Hill sends however  is good one. It says: “I am here. I am willing to hear you out. Let’s work together!” And as the cliche goes, it is easy to hate somebody from a distance. It gets harder to hate them once you’ve met them or sat across the table from them. That’s what Obama is banking on. He’s hoping to establish the kind of rapport that will make it difficult for lawmakers to simply reject any future White House proposals on ideological grounds.

He’s learning fast. His approach so far seems to be: take every single thing George W. Bush ever did and do the exact opposite. After all when was the last time you saw W. on The Hill… trying to win over Democrats?

On to some serious news: yet another news conference today on the economy and the appointment of former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker as chairmain of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Austan Goolsbee a campaign economic adviser and of NAFTA-gate fame, would serve as the board’s staff director and chief economist as well as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

I guess this is meant to reassure The Street  that all lameduckishness aside, and ofrgetting all this talk of “there is only one president at a time”, Obama is slowly taking charge.