Now that 2012 is here and America is gearing up for a new election season, I feel I must speak out about the sentiment, expressed by so many Utahns, that Obama is leading the nation to socialism.
I have to admit up front that I may not be fully informed on the matter, since I never watch Fox News, but for what it's worth, here's my take on this issue:
None can deny that in January 2009, President Obama inherited a job more difficult than any of his predecessors since Roosevelt. In addition to two wars, the nation's economy was in free-fall. We were losing almost 800,000 jobs a month, and many economists predicted we were heading towards a second Great Depression.
The good news: Because of the Great Depression, we had history's lessons to guide our actions. With the concurrence of the vast majority of the nation's economists, the new president pushed through a series of temporary, emergency measures to stop the free-fall and prevent the nation's financial system from collapsing. Admittedly there were imperfections in the legislation containing these measures, but those were due to dependence corruption in Congress, larding up the bills with presents for their special interest campaign contributors. Obama can hardly be blamed for that.
Guess what? Despite the imperfections, it worked. The free fall was checked, another Great Depression was avoided, the banks did not collapse like they did in the 1930's, and the recovery, while admittedly slow, was underway by the end of 2009.
But instead of congratulating the president, his political opponents used those temporary, emergency measures as evidence he was a socialist. Measures, mind you, he had been forced to take to save us from an economic catastrophe left over from when they were in charge. Seem a little disingenuous?
Not that the president hasn't made mistakes during his first term. Take the way one of his main campaign promises, health care reform, was fulfilled. For some reason, Obama was naÃØve enough to believe the Republican leadership would work with him on this issue if he used the conservative model for health care reform, which found its main expression in Mitt Romney's overhaul of health care in Massachusetts. He should have taken Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at his word: that the main goal of Republicans was to make Obama a one-term president.
What resulted was an outpouring of stonewalling and vicious personal attacks on our president unmatched since the days of John Adams. At least Adams' opponents never used baldfaced lies to deny he was an American citizen. And, I'm embarrassed that two members of my faith, Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck, have been at the forefront of these malicious attacks. Romney should follow the example of Governor Jon Huntsman, who in his ability to disagree with policy while remaining civil, reminds us of the exemplary campaign between him and Scott Matheson in 2004. Of course, when you're preaching to a constituency that wants red meat, that cheers at the execution of 250 prisoners in Texas or jeers a gay Iraq War veteran, it's no wonder Governor Huntsman isn't gaining traction -- but you have to respect his integrity.
I must also express my regret so many Utahns buy into this unreasoned hatred of our president. Have we forgotten our values? Those promoting this hatred need to go online and study the proclamation, "The Mormon Ethic of Civility" on the lds.org website.
In retrospect, Hillary Clinton had a point: Barack Obama was maybe a little green for the job in 2008. But the Barack Obama on the ballot in 2012 is not that man. He has always been a man of faith who loves his family, with extraordinary intelligence, character and ability. But the crucible of the last three years, which he has endured with remarkable grace and patience, has obviously matured him. His opponents criticize him for his "coolness." I wish someone would explain to me why that's a bad thing for someone with his finger on the button of weapons of mass destruction.
Let's allow William McRaven, the four star admiral and career Navy SEAL who currently heads U.S. Special Forces, have the last word, describing his impressions of Barack Obama during the planning sessions that resulted in the killing of Bin Laden:
"The president was at all times presidential. I would contend he was the smartest guy in the room. He had leadership skills we'd expect from a guy who had 35 years in the military."
Olsen, who lives in Plain City, is the chaiman of the Weber County Democrats.