Three months in office, President Barack Obama is walking a foreign policy tightrope. His European Tour, his Mexico visit and his appearance with leaders of Latin American nations show his thinking. In order to gain credibility now that U.S. foreign policy has changed, he concludes that he has to admit fault by his own nation.
The tightrope he walks is whether other nations will see that as weakness or begin to work harder themselves at cooperation, especially in combatting terrorism. The result affects public opinion and security at home. The President further walks a tightrope in his decision to release memos that detail the extent of U.S. government interrogation techniques of radical Islamists. Does this action give the terrorists a playbook and also reinforce the idea that America cannot stick with a tough policy for very long or does it show how big and viable America is?
South Jersey Democratic Congressman John Adler tells me, "The President has improved our world image by announcing that the U.S. is not engaging in and will not engage in torture and it was very clear most people in the military did not want the (U.S.) image to be that of torture." Congressman Adler, however, is not as pleased with the FBI report which indicated veterans of the Gulf Wars might become terrorists. "The report generally was poorly worded." Adler also says people in uniform are among the most law-abiding and patriotic. As for this week's anti-spending "tea parties" targeting President Obama's economic policies, Adler , who supports the President's plans, says, "I have no problem with people criticizing the government." He says the expressions of outrage fell within the "boundaries of good political discourse."
On the economy, Congressman Adler says there are real signs of progress in the economy. He believes that although we are likely to see more foreclosures, there are signs the housing market is finally bottoming out. He says in the financial sector, credit is starting to flow again.
Here's a question: In his decision not to pursue prosecution of government officials involved in authorizing or carrying out waterboarding and other techniques, is President Obama showing that he is not the radical some claim, but rather a pragramatic President, more like his predecessors than right and left want to admit?
It's amusing when a political image can have two meanings. In the Dallas Morning News, a tea party participant opposing President Obama's policies said, "It's time to stop the craziness." While speaking, she wore a pink paper-mache pig hat.
On the other side, it is what was not seen. The Obama administration reportedly admits it asked Georgetown University to cover up some religious symbols in the building in which he spoke. When you visit someone's house, do you ask them to hide their beliefs? A President chose to go to that school. A President represents everyone. If we are afraid of offending or sending mixed visual messages, don't go there. And here's the big question: Will similar requests to cover up identifiable markers always be made in every venue in the years ahead, of every religious and political affiliation?
The EPA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has released a proposed finding that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants are a threat to public's health and welfare. Most of those man-made pollutants come from burning fossil fuels. Environmentalists are praising the new common sense of the EPA. They are pleased, but then again, feel like what took you so long? Of the EPA's new decision, " 'Duh' may not be a scientific term, but it applies here," says Nathan Willcox, Energy & Clean Air Advocate for PennEnvironment, of Philadelphia.
President Obama this week also announced increased mass transit spending aimed at high-speed trains. DLC Senior fellow Paul Weinstein, Jr., however, proposes an idea that bears debating. The issues are not just which routes, which cities, but as Weinstein asserts, "the nation will benefit most if funding is targeted toward the few projects where 200 mile per hour trains will be available to passengers as soon as possible."
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Steve Highsmith is a political analyst for NBC10. He is covering President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office for NBCPhiladelphia.com. Steve also hosts NBC10 @ Issue every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.