Apologies in advance for the quickie diary, but I'd feel worse, even remiss, if I didn't take a moment to share a little of Jon Chait's The Case For Obama, online today in New York.
Chait was a lukewarm Obama supporter in 2008.
Unlike so many of his supporters, I never experienced a kind of emotional response to his candidacy. I never felt his election would change everything about American politics or government, that it would lead us out of the darkness. Nothing Obama did or said ever made me well up with tears.I can't say the same, having had a deep emotional investment from the moment I heard Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Dem convention. But I get it, Jon. I understand the more reasonable, neutral stance.
Possibly for that same reason, I have never felt even a bit of the crushing sense of disappointment that at various times has enveloped so many Obama voters.
Actually, it seems almost familiar. From time to time here at the GOS, I've read similar sentiments, strong disapproval of the President's actions, bitter disappointment in his failure to measure up to someone's expectations, and though I, too, would like a word with the man (just one word: Guantanamo), it's never occurred to me to decline to vote. Sit it out? No frackin' way. Nevah happen. (I have already voted, first day of early voting, thank you.)
From threads of long-ago disappointment and disapproval, I recall some talk of "sitting it out."
Don't be that guy or girl. This is no time to brick it. I'll let Jon tell you why. (/Kanye's-gonna-let-you-finish ;)
"He's not radical, not progressive," Leftier-Than-Thou has repeated, as though repetition will make it true.
Here, have some radical:
The combination has confused liberals into thinking of Obamaism as a series of sad half-measures, and conservatives to deem it socialism, but the truth is neither. Obama’s agenda has generally hewed to the consensus of mainstream economists and policy experts.
What makes the agenda radical is that, historically, vast realms of policy had been shaped by special interests for their own benefit. Plans to rationalize those things, to write laws that make sense, molder on think-tank shelves for years, even generations. They are often boring. But then Obama, in a frenetic burst of activity, made many of them happen all at once.
- Bipartisan panels of economists had long urged Medicare to reform its payment methods to curb perverse incentives by hospitals and doctors to run up costs as high as possible;
- Obama overcame fierce resistance in Congress in order to craft, as part of Obamacare, a revolution in paying for quality rather than quantity. He eliminated billions of dollars in useless subsidies to banks funneling (at no risk) government loans to college students.
- By dangling federal public-education grants, Obama unleashed a wave of public-school reform, over the objections of the most recalcitrant elements of the teachers union movement.
- And he forced Wall Street to accept financial regulations that, while weaker than ideal, were far tougher than anybody considered possible to get through Congress.
- It is noteworthy that four of the best decisions that Obama made during his presidency ran against the advice of much of his own administration.
"Weak." Weak? Oh, Leftier-Than-Thou. Shut the front door. He is impossibly brilliant, capable, nervy, an alpha-thinker, unafraid of what anyone thinks. The man gets shit done.
Numerous Democrats in Congress and the White House urged him to throw in the towel on health-care reform, but he was one of very few voices in his administration determined to see it through.Obama can boast a record of accomplishment that bests any president since Roosevelt, and has fewer demerits on his record than any of them, including Roosevelt. The only president that comes close in gross positive accomplishment is Lyndon Johnson, whose successes were overwhelmed by his failures to such a degree that he abandoned his reelection campaign. The immediacy of the political moment can — and usually does — blind us. (In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the wide and even bipartisan sentiment prevailed that George W. Bush was exactly the right sort of person we would want to have as president at that moment.)
- Many of his own advisers, both economists steeped in free-market models and advisers anxious about a bailout-weary public, argued against his decision to extend credit to, and restructure, the auto industry.
- On Libya, Obama’s staff presented him with options either to posture ineffectually or do nothing; he alone forced them to draw up an option that would prevent a massacre.
- And Obama overruled some cautious advisers and decided to kill Osama bin Laden.
- The latter three decisions are all highly popular now, but all of them carried the risk of inflicting a mortal political wound, like Bill Clinton’s health-care failure and Jimmy Carter’s attempted raid into Iran. (George W. Bush, presented with a similar option, did not strike bin Laden.) In making these calls, Obama displayed judgment and nerve.
Bob Woodward, who is justly famed as a reporter but whose opinions are interesting only as a barometer of Washington establishmentarianism, blamed Obama because Republicans turned down an extraordinarily favorable budget deal. “Presidents work their will — or should work their will,” Woodward declared, “on the important matters of national business.”
How can a president “work his will” in such a way as to force autonomous members of the opposite party controlling a co-equal branch of government to sacrifice their own calculated self-interest? It is a form of magical thinking, but a pervasive one. Which is exactly why the Republican strategy — making Obama’s promise to transcend partisanship fail by withholding cooperation — has worked.
Whether this strategy succeeds in its ultimate goal — returning the GOP to power in 2013 — depends on the election. In an unusual way, the success of Obama’s first term hangs in large part on his reelection bid, as a President Romney would probably kill his grandest achievement of providing health insurance to those Americans too sick or poor to acquire it in the marketplace. So any evaluation of Obama’s term before the election must be provisional.
What can be said without equivocation is that Obama has proven himself morally, intellectually, temperamentally, and strategically. In my lifetime, or my parents’, he is easily the best president. On his own terms, and not merely as a contrast to an unacceptable alternative, he overwhelmingly deserves reelection.
Don't walk your butt to the polling place. RUN. GOTV in whatever way you can, but do it like your life depends on it, por favor.
Help re-elect this very good man, this best president of our lifetimes. You can go back to being mad at him after you vote, but now more than ever, please vote. Thank you for reading.
UPDATE: Please follow Steven D, the man with backup plans, for quick reference on voting rights, poll places and What To Do If You Need Help. I hope everyone has a great voting experience but in some states, there have been challenges and difficulties already. Steven's voting guide has all you need to know if you encounter anything unexpected.