Yup. Yahoo felt compelled to help Obama out by fact-checking a Saturday Night Life sketch that noted Obama’s inability to carry through any legislative agenda.
First, here’s the SNL sketch:
I just have to fisk the Yahoo story, because it’s insanely stupid:
This weekend “Saturday Night Live” opened with Fred Armisen as President Obama, delivering an address from the Oval Office. Noting up front that he’d failed to secure the 2016 Olympic Games for Chicago, Armisen’s Obama said it was just further proof that his detractors’ fears are unfounded: How could he transform the country into something resembling the former Soviet Union or Nazi Germany when he’s failed to accomplish anything at all? “When you look at my record,” he said, “it’s very clear what I’ve done so far, and that is nothing.”
But are SNL’s accusations of Obama being a do-nothing president accurate? Let’s run down the list of the nine promises SNL lampooned President Obama for doing “nothing” on to see where he actually stands.
1. Close the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay: In one of his first acts as president, Obama signed an order mandating the close of the notorious lockup by January 2010. On Sunday, White House National Security Adviser James Jones said that he was “hopeful” that the White House would meet that deadline. Several legal and logistical questions remained to be answered, however, including the fate of the remaining detainees. [In other words, despite an announcement on practically the first day of his presidency, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing.]
2. Pull all troops out of Iraq: In February, Obama told congressional leaders that he wanted all troops out of Iraq by August 2010. On June 30th of this year, a large number of troops were pulled out of the country, a move that was understated here in the U.S., but was met by dancing in the streets in some parts of Iraq. At the time of the withdrawal, the American military leadership refused to put a number on how many troops remained, though some have estimated that number remains as high as 124,000. [In other words, despite an announcement in the first month of his presidency, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing.]
3. Improve the situation in Afghanistan: In a recent interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” General Stanley McChrystal, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, said that things had become “a little worse” than he had originally anticipated in Afghanistan, adding that “the breadth of the violence, the geographic spread of violence, is a little more than I would have gathered.” Wednesday marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, and last Sunday saw the deadliest single battle for American soldiers in Afghanistan since 2001. The administration is currently divided over how to change course in Afghanistan, weighing McChrystal’s request for as many as 40,000 more troops against other options. [In other words, nine months into his presidency, despite a war raging in Afghanistan and a general desperate to speak with his Commander in Chief, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing. This nothing, of course, is a deadly travesty of leadership.]
4. Reform the nation’s health care system: This year’s health care reform debate has been one of the more contentious debates in American history. Originally, the president set an August deadline for Congress to pass legislation for him to sign. That obviously didn’t happen. However, on Friday night the Senate Finance Committee finally released its mammoth health care bill, setting the stage for an even more intense national debate with a Senate Finance Committee vote potentially coming as early as the middle of this week. [In other words, nine months into his presidency, and despite putting almost all of his political capital into pushing health care reform, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing (and thank God for that).]
5. Cut down on global warming: Prior to the onset of the raucous health care reform debate, the centerpiece of the Administration’s efforts to stem the increase of global warming, the Cap and Trade bill, was on the legislative fast-track. However, over the weekend Carol Browner, Obama’s global warming czar, said that passage of the bill prior to December’s Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was unlikely. [In other words, nine months into his presidency, and despite seeing his wacked out House of Representatives pass Cap-and-Trade and despite the panic he's tried to create about the increasingly chimerical climate change, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing (and, again, thank God for that).]
6. Reform the nation’s immigration policies: In August, President Obama, under intense pressure from supporters for not moving fast enough on the issue, announced that he would have an immigration bill in Congress by the end of the year, though it likely wouldn’t be voted on until 2010. Saying that “demagogues” who “suggest that any form of pathway for legalization for those who are already in the United States is unacceptable” would attempt to obstruct his efforts, the president added, “Am I going to be able to snap my fingers and get this done? No.” [In other words, nine months into his presidency, and despite an awful number of speeches, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing, which is good news for all of us who think that anything Obama will do won't be good.]
7. Changing the military’s policies on gay soldiers: In his first week in the Oval Office, President Obama announced that his Administration would have to study the “implications for national security” before he could attempt to repeal the present “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy initiated by the Clinton administration in 1993. On Sunday, White House National Security Adviser James Jones reiterated Obama’s commitment to fulfilling this campaign promise, but added that the president has “a lot on his plate” and would get around to addressing the issue at the “right time.” [In other words, nine months into his presidency, despite promises, to date, Obama has done . . . yes, wait for it . . . nothing, which is even less than Clinton, who got "don't ask, don't tell" to be the rule.]
8. Placing limits on executive powers: In the early days of his presidency, Congressional Quarterly praised Obama for appearing as if he was “rejecting some of Bush’s most expansive executive power claims” in the White House. However, that sentiment quickly evaporated among Obama supporters and opponents, with Salon’s Glenn Greenwald noting in April that the White House had “explicitly claimed to possess the very presidential powers that Bush critics spent years condemning as radical, lawless and authoritarian.” [Okay, so if I get this right, Obama actually did something regarding executive powers -- namely, he broke his promise and out-Bushed Bush when it came to presidental powers (and Yahoo doesn't even mention all those czars).]
9. Prosecute those who facilitate torture: In April, President Obama announced that his Administration would not bring charges against those who carried out acts deemed as torture upon U.S. terror detainees, but rather might seek to prosecute the Bush Administration officials who drafted the documents justifying the use of torture as lawful. In August, Attorney General Eric Holder followed through by announcing the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether or not the interrogations of suspected terrorists broke any laws. [In other words, once again, when Obama actually did something, it was to break an explicit promise to do nothing. I get that.]
So, taking all of this into consideration, are SNL’s satirical criticisms of President Obama’s do-nothingness valid? Probably not, mainly because, as illustrated by the old adage about how one shouldn’t watch sausage or legislation get made, the process of “change” and getting anything done in Washington is a long and messy one, and Obama is merely nine months into his term as president. But that doesn’t mean that Saturday’s SNL skit was humorless, which, for once, it most definitely was not. [In other words, when it comes to Obama, making promises to do something and then doing nothing, or making promises to do nothing and then doing something, counts as being an effective, pro-active, can-do, follow-through leader.]
Honest to God! With friends like Yahoo, who needs enemies? All that Yahoo has managed to highlight is that Obama is all talk and no action, except when he breaks promises to aggregate power or prosecute patriots. Woo-hoo!
Discounting Yahoo’s idiocy and accepting that, but for some seriously broken promises to be inactive, Obama’s penchat for talk over action hasn’t been harmless. With words alone, he’s effectively gone around the world abasing himself at tyrants’ feet and he’s managed to insult both ordinary Americans and America’s allies. And when it comes to Afghanistan, by his refusal to use his much vaunted speaking skills, his silence is literally murderous for our troops.
UPDATE: This is so pathetic. It turns out CNN did exactly the same thing! As the Anchoress explains, it too ran a fact check to explain why the SNL was so mean.