22 August 2008

thin, but reassuring. like Obama himself

perhaps a bit tenuous and thin argument, which may be ironically appropriate as some use those words to describe the candidate himself, but there is a reassuring case to be made that Barack Obama is already President of the United States.

if my memory is serving me well and as i've not the inclination to research the exact details, there are at least four examples of his influence on US policy already this year.

in early 2008 (or perhaps late 2007) Obama was roundly castigated as being "naive" for asserting that US military forces should go after Al Quaeda in northern Pakistan even sans their "permission" if necessary. i cannot remember how many air strikes and predator attacks i've read of since that time, not all of them politically or militarily effective, but the number and frequency of them suggests to me that such a policy was enacted.

as gas and oil prices shot up in the first half of the year, one of Obama's policy pronouncements was an advocation of tapping the strategic petroleum reserve, which at the time was still being filled with US taxpayer purchases of premium priced oil following President Bush's order of January 2007 to double the SPR's capacity (issued less than 48 hours after the market price of oil had dipped below $50 after having run up to a then record of $77... those were the days eh?) the Democratic-led Congress soon acted to stop the continued filling of the SPR, and if i remember correctly, the President agreed and signed the bill.
it isn't tapping, but it did coincide with the peak of market prices that have slid over 20% since.

also on the oil prices front, the issue of drilling offshore received a large amount of press, and lost amidst the banter over tire pressures was Obama's assertion that increased offshore drilling permits should be considered in concert with a reduction in corporate welfare to the big oil companies. the topic has faded from the front pages since then, curiously, yet one change is significant. the Speaker of the House, after declaring that any legislation that resulted in increased offshore drilling permissions would ever be considered, has reversed herself to say she would allow such considerations.

and of course the words "timetable" and "withdrawal" of US forces from Iraq was the signature issue of the Obama campaign before there was even an Obama campaign. those words were previously shunned by the GOP and the Bush Administration as cowardly, defeatist, and unacceptably anti-American. but now? not so much.