WAMC Feb 11, 2010
Northeast Public Radio Audio
Dr. Steven Leibo is the Director of the Sage College’s Program in International & Globalization Studies
I really don’t understand why people seem surprised by how quickly President Obama’s poll numbers have dropped. I mean let’s be realistic here. He came into power after decades of a de-regulation mania that dangerously set up America for just the sort of economic free fall we experienced during late 2008.
And while it’s probably true, that those who claim disappointment that Obama’s policies have not immediately pulled us out of the economic death spiral we were in simply don’t appreciate just how bad the crash could have been. Life is — as they say — simply not fair. Folks are suffering and Obama’s in charge. And yet even if our near death economic experience had not happened there is no way Obama could have avoided a dramatic hit on his popularity. After all, he came into office promising a dual revolution – revolutions in how we deliver health care and use energy, two transformative efforts that would have aroused enormous levels of opposition regardless of what else was going on.
And yet he has still made enormous progress. Perhaps even now on the verge of passing real health care reform. Even as his stimulus program has already made significant progress in taking on the many issues linked with energy.
Taking on challenges from our dependence on unstable regimes from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela and the world’s draining of what’s left of our oil supplies to the existential threat of man-made climate change.
Yes, real progress in the plethora of already funded energy conversion efforts from green energy projects and power grid improvements to major investments in public transportation. Accomplishments that are only diminished in the public mind by the level of Obama’s initial ambitions.
Sure he has aroused an extraordinarily high level of public passion. All quite understandable given the importance of each issue to our lives, And, yes, there has been a lot of ignorant scare mongering out there. Made up charges about everything from death panels to a faith based denunciation of more than a hundred years of climate science.
While confusion has often been rampant – confusion about everything from the difference between weather and climate to the difference between health care insurance and medical care. As if insurance executives and industry bureaucrats with their need to provide profits to share holders were somehow comparable to doctors and nurses with their need to provide health care to their patients.
But one challenge that faces President Obama has been largely ignored by the general public. And that is the question of how best to face the challenges of the increasingly erratic Islamic Republic of Iran. Sure it’s a somewhat less immediate issue to the average American than health care and energy use. But because Iran’s government is absolutely in a position to do plenty of damage to global security, from prodding its Lebanese allies to provoke the Israelis again to interfering in American efforts to stabilize its two neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan. Not forgetting, God forbid its growing nuclear potential it is vitally important that the American public learn as much as it can about Iran. And why two of the New York capital regions best colleges, the Sage Colleges and the College of Saint Rose have worked jointly to organize a series of talks on contemporary Iran. Talks focusing on issues from Iran’s recent fiasco of an election to its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and its regular threats against Israel.
Three different discussions on the evenings of March 15th and March 16th and the morning of the 16th by a Dr. Mohammad Amjad, most recently of the department of political science at the University Azad in Tehran. An American trained Iranian political scientist who just recently arrived from Iran, himself another victim of the regime. A scholar who is eminently qualified to help us understand the challenge of the Iranian Regime?
To learn more about these presentations contact either the Sage Colleges, The College of Saint Rose or simply Google Leibo’s world watch for more details