We Can’t Agree About Obama

Posted on October 26, 2014 by

The pounding and pummeling of Barack Obama by Republican candidates in contested U.S. Senate races is painful to watch.

To cope, I’m paying no attention to individual races and I’m preparing for the worst.

It’s very tempting, of course, to blame the President for this situation. He misjudged and mismanaged his opponents from the start and his conciliatory style played right into their hands. And their strategy – to malign and undermine him at every turn – looks like it’s about to pay off.

If you share my despair, I recommend you read – if you haven’t yet – last month’s Rolling Stone feature piece. I haven’t been a Paul Krugman follower but his article offers a progressive perspective on the Obama presidency which could be very helpful when we learn the results on November 5.

Krugman – a persistent Obama critic from the left for the past six years – gives the President relatively high scores on Health Care, Financial Reform and the Environment and concludes:

…This is what a successful presidency looks like….I don’t care about the fact that Obama hasn’t lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot.

Now, for the other side (if we really need a “balanced view”) I suggest Thomas Frank’s reply to Krugman in Salon:

… The greatest disappoint of them all [is] this administration’s utter failure of imagination….[H]e couldn’t seem to see what is obvious….That ignoring the conventional and facing down the Republicans and doing the right thing – on the stimulus, on the banks, on inequality – would also have made him enormously popular, not to mention consequential and successful. It might even has spared him the electoral comeuppance he received in 2010 and whose second installment he seems likely to take delivery on just a few weeks from now.

It’s the argument we’ve been having with ourselves since 2009.

Comments (2)


  1. Don Keefer says:

    The problem is this: Obama, supposedly a Constitutional scholar, took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States — not “security” and intelligence “services” like the NSA (never contemplated in the original document)
    or the corrupt, winner-take-all crony/casino capitalism of Wall St. banks and Fed (likewise nowhere to be found in the Constitution — unlike, say, promoting “the general welfare” — yes, welfare! –of American citizens). His attacks on the First Amendment (attempting to prosecute whistleblowers like Snowden and journalists like Pulitzer Prize winner Risen for telling the truth) and Fourth Amendment privacy rights (warrantless searches and pervasive spying, a violation of every citizen’s privacy rights), in particular, are a direct violation of his Oath of Office. His and Holder’s refusal to criminally prosecute criminal Wall St. banks also has made a mockery of the concepts of equal justice (would horse thieves receive similar compensation and support?) and “A government of Laws, not Men.”

    Maybe he was threatened by these Powers That Be behind the throne when he took office: A lot of us think that’s a real possibility, given his 180 turnabout the onetime progressive firebrand made on these and related issues as soon as he took office. After all, the old Mafia proposition is personally very compelling: “Would you rather have lead (like the last real charismatic progressives, JFK, RFK and King) or gold?” Presented with such a choice by a clearly anti-democratic NSA and CIA, it is perhaps understandable that he chose gold — and golf.

  2. RICK CHERTOFF says:

    I agree with Don. Also, I’m reading a book called “An Indigenous History of the U.S.” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. It is a scholarly but very readable history through the eyes of Native Americans. The cross-party alignment on a deliberate genocide (to extirpate all “Indians” from the country) leaves nothing to the imagination. (“No, Dorothy, it wasn’t mainly ambient disease…”). It reinforces my feeling that Howard Zinn is right; movements make history and recruit leaders, who sometimes have more influence than others.
    I don’t believe the Main power lies with the President. I believe “they” will only allow someone who can be bent to their/ The national purpose, which is the current military imperialist iteration of Manifest Destiny- a deeply racist ideology. There have and will be improvements to the extent that movements evolve to change the status quo, such as happened in the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, etc. including Occupy. Now- thank god, there is a New anti-racist coalition raising the banner of Democracy as living wage movement, police reform, and anti-Zionism.

Leave a Reply