Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"The Case for Obama--a truly historic presidency"

Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone):
For many progressives, the presidency of Barack Obama has been deeply disappointing. To hear some prominent lefties tell it, the New Jesus of the campaign trail has morphed into the New Judas of the Oval Office. "He loves to buckle," MSNBC host Cenk Uygur declared in a July segment called "Losing the Left." "Obama's not going to give us real change — he's going to give us pocket change and hang a 'Mission Accomplished' banner."
On the economic front, Obama has surrounded himself with the same free marketeers who led Bill Clinton's calamitous deregulation of big banks, restoring Wall Street to obscene profits even as one American in seven has been engulfed by a rising tide of poverty. Eric Alterman of The Nation distilled the left's lament this summer, arguing that Obama may have "fooled gullible progressives into believing he was a left-liberal partisan, when in fact he is much closer to a conservative corporate shill." The cover of The Obama Syndrome, a new jeremiad by the political commentator Tariq Ali, even gives the progressive resentment a lurid illustration: Obama's face is shown flaking away like a cheap plaster mask to reveal the chuckling visage of George W. Bush.

But such selective indictments — legitimate and troubling in many of their particulars — grossly distort the sweep of the 44th presidency. It's one thing to call the president on his shit. It's quite another to paint his entire presidency as shit — even if Joe Biden and Robert Gibbs are losing their shit, accusing you of being a "whining" member of the "professional left."
In fact, when the history of this administration is written, Obama's opening act is likely to be judged as more impressive than any president's — Democrat or Republican — since the mid-1960s. "If you're looking at the first-two-year legislative record," says Ornstein, "you really don't have any rivals since Lyndon Johnson — and that includes Ronald Reagan. MORE...

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