Sunday, October 28, 2012

The remarkable accomplishments of President Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's no surprise that the Times has endorsed President Obama, but I think the editorial is worth reading regardless.

First because it's a thoughtful evaluation of Obama's many impressive accomplishments to date. This is important with respect to two audiences:

1) Progressives: There are still many progressives who are less than thrilled by much of what Obama has done as president -- and I get that, and I have been critical as well -- but there is an unfortunate tendency on the left to focus on the bad at the exclusion of the good, to blame Obama for all that he has supposedly done wrong (say, in the area of national security, where he has continued much of what we objected to during the Bush years) while refusing to credit him for anything.

Health-care reform? Not enough. Support for marriage equality? He was forced into it. DADT repeal? Too late. Dodd-Frank? Not enough, and he's in bed with the bankers like the rest of them. Etc., etc.

And the rest -- like rescuing the auto industry, ordering the mission to take out bin Laden, setting a firm date for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, reversing the Bush-Cheney torture policies, removing rapacious banks from the federal student loan process, supporting veterans, fighting for fair pay for women, not to mention pulling the economy back from the brink of collapse and setting in a path to sustainable recovery -- well, it's easier just to ignore it all.

(For more on this, see Scott Lemieux vs. Matt Stoller, the latter of whom makes the progressive case against Obama. Stoller makes some good points (again, standard progressive critique of Obama stuff), but his call to support a third-party candidate, and to hand the election to Romney (because he and the president are pretty much the same) is stunningly ignorant and outright dangerous. Lemieux picks his argument apart, as he has done previously, particularly with respect to abortion. Needless to say, I'm firmly with Scott. There is a clear choice in this election. And while you may object to the fact that in U.S. presidential politics the spectrum is a fairly narrow one that excludes much of the left, there is no good reason to support a third-party candidate over Obama. If you really think it doesn't matter, you're an idiot.)

2) Swing voters: Progressives have taken their shots at the president, but Republican propaganda has also been extremely successful, along with a Beltway media establishment that parrots it, in painting him as a failure (when it's not painting him as an anti-American Euro-fascist-socialist from Kenya or Indonesia). And this narrative has taken hold, no doubt, among some low-information voters.


To me, though, President Obama's record speaks for itself. While acknowledging again that I share some of the same criticisms that progressives have launched at him, to me the president's record is remarkable both in and of itself but especially given the political climate of the past four years, with Republicans in Congress taking an absolute obstructionist approach and refusing to work with him on pretty much anything, the Republican Party moving ever more rightward (embracing the Tea Party and adopting right-wing extremism as its new mainstream), and conservatism going all-out insane in its vicious assault on the president, much of it racist.

Which is to say, with just over a week remaining until Election Day, and voting already underway, it's a good time to remind ourselves, and others, of all that President Obama has accomplished and what it all says about what he'd do in a second term. The Times, with its enthusiastic endorsement, refusing to pin blame on him simply for falling short of those ridiculously lofty expectations four years ago, helps a great deal in this regard.


Additionally, though, I encourage you to read this piece at The Washington Monthly detailing President Obama's Top 50 accomplishments. As I said, remarkable. 


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Oh, and second because of its excellent characterization of Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has gotten this far with a guile that allows him to say whatever he thinks an audience wants to hear. But he has tied himself to the ultraconservative forces that control the Republican Party and embraced their policies, including reckless budget cuts and 30-year-old, discredited trickle-down ideas. Voters may still be confused about Mr. Romney's true identity, but they know the Republican Party, and a Romney administration would reflect its agenda. Mr. Romney's choice of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate says volumes about that. 

Just as voters need to be reminded of what President Obama has accomplished, they need to know clearly just what the alternative is. There you go.

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