With President Barack Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 additional troops to battle Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, he has put his imprint on the war on terror, and at the same time, given up the Democrats' most famous fallback position: blame George W. Bush.
Couple that with the economy and we are seeing the end of the president's first year in office coincide with him having to accept the full responsibility for the condition of the country.
Obama rode into office on the "blame Bush" tidal wave as the nation sickened of everything he touched. The economy? Bush was horrible at stewarding it. Giving banks billions in TARP funds? Dumb idea by Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank "Mr. Wall Street" Paulson. Sick of billions going to the war? It was all the fault of Bush and his chief crony, Vice President Dick Cheney.
The blame Bush mantra proved effective because it totally silenced Republicans, who were loathe to defend a conservative president who began with a surplus and ended with a deficit, as well as the architect of a war in Iraq based on never-proven claims of weapons of mass destruction. They couldn't even muster the strength to call him a conservative.
In the short term, President Obama's Afghanistan decision is being approved by a majority of the country. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken a day after the speech at West Point showed a slim majority – 51% – approving of the plan. A CNN/Opinion Research poll found six out of 10 supporting the president's plan. While two-thirds of those polled continue to blame Bush for the situation in Afghanistan, escalating the war there was all left to Obama, and he has to hope this action plan works.
But none of this will be easy. Just look at those who support the president. He has been taking incoming fire from Moveon.org and other progressive/liberal groups, angry with him for not pulling troops out, and instead sending more in. He needed their fervor to win the nomination and the presidency. Can he withstand the aggressive pushback they will provide?
This week saw 10 members of the Congressional Black Caucus withholding their support for an overhaul of the financial services industry because they felt that the administration wasn't being specific in addressing the effect of the economy on African Americans.
The move caught the White House by surprise, and clearly brings out in the open the friction between the nation's first black president and a caucus he was a member of during his time in the U.S. Senate.
The White House has spent a lot of time trying to make the argument that its $700 billion stimulus plan would save or generate hundred of thousands of jobs, but according to Black Caucus members, their constituents have been left out in the cold. They are threatening to join up with Republicans to defeat some of the president's measures unless they get more. Will he call their bluff or advocate a black economic agenda? He told USA Today there will be no specific plan of action for African Americans. Now the ball is back in the court of the CBC.
As the criticism piles up, ranging from the economy to the war to promises kept and those broken, the Obama Administration is knee deep in governing, and everyone knows that is far different than running for office. (continues here at CNN)