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Let me be clear that I write this diary with the best intentions. Please read carefully with an open mind.

Let's start with the basics of what President Obama ran on in his campaign. He strongly endorsed the fundamental ideals of progressivism in his 2008 campaign, but he also believed in bringing people together from both sides. He always improved people's lives and issues through bringing people together with different points of view ever since he was a community organizer. Bringing people together was a key ideal of his leadership style. Ted Kennedy was very strongly embracing of progressive values and fighting all the way till the end. At the same time, Ted Kennedy was willing to reach compromises with the other side too, something Democrats and progressives criticized him for believe it or not.

Kennedy's willingness to give up on big plans in exchange for incremental half-measures was emblematic not only of his adaptation to the back rooms of the U.S. Senate, but also of a larger shift in the ambition and scope of liberalism as it began to feel the assault of the conservative ascendancy of the 1970s.
Obama's desire to work with republicans had influence from Ted Kennedy. Liberal Lion Ted Kennedy, who mentored then-senator Obama, endorsed him specifically because he believed in Obama's ability to transcend  the partisan divide and marveled at Obama's ability to bring people together. Many republicans worked with senator Obama on numerous bills. Obama's bills tended to be bipartisan and were ultimately successful.

That is why President Obama brought voices to his white house staff such as Tim Geithner, Rahm Emmanuel, Lawerence Summers, Austin Goolsbee (later), Bill Daley (later), Gene Sparling (later) Christina Romer, Hilda Solis, Kathleen Sebelius, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and Van Jones. I understand that people no doubt have problems with Christina Romer and Van Jones leaving early, strongly believing they were undercut and not as supported by Obama. There is some truth to that. However, I don't think Obama meant for all that to happen. What ended up happening largely was that Rahm, Tim, and Lawrence ( close to bad interests even though they did a lot of good things) ended up having over more influence than expected at some key points. Obama then was misguided as they exerted their influence (I am right and everyone is wrong style) on his staff. Rahm acknowledged that Lawrence would slow walk things and he impacted the Obama administration's messaging. Therefore, Obama's messaging problems (not willing to strongly call out republicans often using the people's pulpit and letting republicans/media get the upperhand at times in situations) have root causes of Obama really wanting to bring people together and his "bad" advisors misguiding him. He was not cowardly or scared of republicans as many harsh critics on this site have said. Ed Schultz went as far to say "Obama has a sissy room".  It also was not that he was stupid about messaging.

All of this is perfectly applicable to the health care debate, where harsh criticism of Obama's messaging, being weak, not sticking up for progressive principles, and being a "sell-out" really began boiling up. President Obama wanted to bring people together for getting a universal health care law as much as he endorsed a strong incremental bill with a public option. He said he would bring insurance companies to the table, a BIG difference from John Edwards who said "you can't reason with those people". That approach to bring people together had side effects no sugarcoating.  

Also, Olympia Snowe at the start really wanted to work with Obama (she voted for the Recovery Act, pledged to work with Obama in a bipartisan basis on key issues, and had worked with him when he was a senator) and Obama brought her to the table. Unfortunately, at the worst possible moment, the batshit crazy wing was officially taking over Mcconnell and the republican party. Olympia Snowe voted yes in the senate committee vote but by then, Obama's desire for a bipartisan bill was falling apart and failing before our eyes.  Lastly, while big insurance industries and grassroots teapartiers were having big influences on conservative Democratic senators like Max Baucus, Olympia Snowe, Blanche Lincoln, and Mary Landrieu,  us progressives were largely sitting on the sidelines. As Van Jones said in Netroots Nation 2012, "where were we"? We were not organizing like the tea party was. We did not have our own townhalls. We were not holding mass rallies in the senators' offices or in DC. I am not trying to say progressives did not do anything. However, we did make a lot of mistakes too, particularly not MAKING Democrats and Obama to stick with their original strong bill plans. We definitely could have done things better too.

Thus continued the general "unappreciativeness", frustration, doubt, and belief that Obama was not worth it in terms of creating a progressive society we all want. Some LGBT activists and progressives (like Dan Choi) vitriolically criticized Obama for slow-dragging DADT repeal, DOJ's defending of DOMA, and other LGBT issues even as he was already doing a lot for LGBT people. Some Environmentalists (Al Gore) and progressives were deeply disappointed for a lack of cap and trade bill and that Obama was not as committed to addressing the "global warming emergency" as strongly as he needed to be. Some progressives (like Matt Taibi) and victims of wall street abuse have been vitrolic critics of Obama for not holding wall street accountable, not doing enough on housing, and for Dodd-Frank going far enough. Lastly, these three issues are where the Obama administration is thought of as being really bad: Civil Liberties (drones, lack of respect for whistleblowers, wiretapping/FISA, NDAA, and Bradley Manning), K-12 Education, and War on Drugs (medical marijuana raids).

I understand why they felt what they felt and there is no sugarcoating that there have been problems with the administration on each of these issues. Let me tell you though that these same progressives would have been vitriolic critics of FDR also for many of the same reasons.

Even FDR, who governed the closest to a progressive and not on bringing people together, was harshly criticized as not being progressive enough and having bad points similar to those of President Obama. Check this diary out by our well-respected and revered puakev.

Abraham Lincoln was not considered "radical" or "progressive" enough by the Radical republicans of his time either.

Having said that, a big part Obama's bad points are not totally "Obama problems". When you take into consideration how intense left pressure/organizing made Obama be better on LGBT rights, DREAM act deportations, backing away from keystone, etc, where has left organizing/pressure been throughout wall street reform? Why didn't occupy last long-term and start early in Obama's first term? I am confident we might have gotten a better wall-street regulation signed into law had there been occupy wall street pressure. Occupy did positively pressure Obama and Democrats. Obama even created a commission for financial accountability. Yes, I know there are a lot of limitations regarding that. However, that was largely because the left pressure was short-lived. On education, why did teachers unions endorse Obama so early? Imagine if teachers unions organized left pressure early on and held out their endorsements. The Democratic party had been for years drifting badly in education (aided by Ted Kennedy's part in NCLB). Obama's education policies are therefore not original or unique. Our very own kossack teacherken criticized teachers unions in not pushing Obama more here.

I worry that once the endorsement is finalized, this administration will have even less reason to listen to the voices of those of us involved in things like the Save Our Schools March, and will point to the endorsement as "proof" that teachers as a whole support their policies.  

I'm not sure how much weight endorsing or not endorsing now can have.  I only know that one does not give away leverage without getting something in return.  That is piss-poor negotiations.   Piss-poor negotiations is one of the things we have seen from this administration in some of its dealings with the Republicans in Congress.  It is saddening to see that the leadership of the NEA is making the administration seem like strong negotiators in comparison.

That definitely would have gotten Obama to soften some of his bad education policies. Yes, I know some will inevitably say Obama and Duncan would never listen. I disagree. Obama has been responsive to left pressure many times (even though some nastiness came from Rahm Emmanuel and occasionally Obama did not seem to understand why progressives were feeling what they were feeling). He is his own person. He did not listen to Rahm Emmanuel regarding health care. He always wanted to work hard for a big HCR bill (though not perfect or ideal).

Civil Liberties and the War on Drugs share these similar situations. The Democratic Party has been drifting towards the bad sides of these issues for decades. Patrick Kennedy on this day even is wrong on medical marijuana. Ted Kennedy years back voted for the patriot act. Therefore, there has been little long-term organizing/left pressure to really push society away from drones, wiretapping, drug criminalization and etc.

Drones in particular are so much more complicated than just Obama using them. The military has always been using them. Lastly, the public and liberals support drones. Those who complain about drones all the time have not figured out to how to really convince public opinion otherwise. It is a long-term project to stop drones period. There are a lot of factors on why legitimacy has been building for drones. Too much blame is insinuated on Obama regarding drones. I understand those who have problems with the drone program and Obama. I am not trying to excuse the bad points of the drone policy here. At the same time, one good point is that drones have taken out terrorists. Lastly, calling Obama a "murderer" and "baby killer" is going WAY too far.

If the Obama administration could modify the drone policy to make them more of good uses and prevent many more " tragic side effects" (the deaths of children), then that would IMO solve half of the woes of drones the minority of liberals currently have. Yes, public opinion is a big problem regarding drones. Obama does not yet feel pressure to change the policy. Back in the 1960s, MLK did not just focus on criticizing LBJ when civil rights legislation was having difficulty and lack of votes. He tried to fix the whole context problem by leading pressure marches. The civil rights marches pressured Kennedy and Johnson and legislators to push towards sane civil rights policy. Imagine if we had a leader trying to change the context away from drones. Furthermore, as bad as the record number of whistleblower prosections are, to be fair to Obama he signed a whistleblower protection law. Lastly, republicans were a problem regarding NDAA in the senate. Obama held out for a veto threat, but republicans refused to compromise. the Defense authorization act ultimately got modified in a way such that Obama would issue a signing statement against indefinite detention. That situation was mostly the republicans' fault. That bad provision in NDAA can be easily repealed in the next Democratic administration with a new Democratically controlled congress with Nancy Pelosi back.

The law, known as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (pdf), expands protections for federal workers who blow the whistle on misconduct, fraud and illegality.

It clarifies the scope of protected disclosures, tightens requirements for non-disclosure agreements, expands penalties for violating protections and adds to the staff of some federal agencies an ombudsman whose job will be to educate agency employees of their rights, a statement said.

Lastly on the health care issue, a lot of critics like to blame Obama for taking single payer off the table. The doctors protesting single payer in front of Max Baucus in August were too little too late. Yes, an overwhelming majority of Americans favored medicare for all after the 2008 elections. However again, where were the organizing and pushing efforts early on? Single Payer has been off the table for DECADES. In fact, Ted kennedy is the one who is responsible for taking single payer off the table. He also was actively promoting Romneycare as senator Obama was running for president. Therefore, our starting point was NEVER that strong to begin with, even with Obama taking office. We were dealing with a Democratic party moving right for a very long time. We never should have taken things for granted the Democratic party as a whole would magically do things right on healthcare. Some of the healthcare bills Ted Kennedy was writing up before he died did not even have a public option. Yes there is no sugarcoating Obama made mistakes with his approach to healthcare, messaging, and misguidedness with wanting to strike a deal with the insurance companies/republicans. However, the public option dying, single payer being off the table, and why we did not get the ultimate bill we desired are the result of many factors, not just Obama. Lastly, to be fair to Obama and the Democrats, we had a medicare expansion ready to go but Joe Lieberman killed it. Who knew if Joe Lieberman would vote for a public option anyway? Why was so much outrage ALL on Obama?

Kennedy abandoned his own bill in 1974 and later supported legislation that preserved the role of the private insurance industry in the health care sector. "My feeling is that this is the central cop-out of liberal leadership," long-time single-payer advocate Dr. Quentin Young said in an interview with Socialist Worker in 2003. "Ted Kennedy was the author of an excellent single-payer [universal insurance] bill of 1971. But now, since it's not considered feasible, they don't even push for it."
My last part of this diary is to explain how under- appreciated these are: Obamacare, wall street reform, Obama's support for the Democratic Party, and Obama standing up for the ideals of progressivism.

1. There are a whole lot of reasons why Obamacare ended up the way it was and most of it in reality was not Obama's fault. I explained the contexts above.

Obamacare is ultimately setting the stage for single payer anyway in the long-term. Again, Obama believed in single payer coming in a long-term process.

The 80/20 rule is the "bomb" in Obamacare setting up the final erosion of the profit-industry model of healthcare. There is a short-term strengthening of it no sugarcoating (much to the disapproval among those who wanted to kill the bill). Even then, single payer will come out. Vermont is already leading the way and the plan is going well as scheduled for 2017.

I am confident California is bound to get single payer with its super majority and left pressure.


In addition to all these facts about Obamacare:

There is a non-profit entity that would compete against private insurers next year in the exchanges. It would function in the same role as the public option anyway.

"The national plans will compete directly with other private insurers and may have some significant advantages, including a federal seal of approval. Premiums and benefits for the multistate insurance plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personnel Management, the agency that arranges health benefits for federal employees."

"The federal standards will pre-empt state rules in at least one respect: the national health plans will automatically be eligible to compete against other private insurers in the new exchanges, regardless of whether they have been certified as meeting the standards of those exchanges."

In summation, there is no pure public option. However, a non-profit option (that will be just as good as the public option) was snuck in and camouflauged. The non-profit option has the pure public option's spirits. I have total confidence in GEHA to make this  special non-profit option work.

2. Wall Street reform has many of Elizabeth Warren's ideas. The reform does not go far enough no doubt. However, Obama at least believed in regulation of Wall Street. Bill Clinton really deregulated Wall Street. Lastly, Richard Cordray and the CFPA have been doing wonders for middle class families and recovering fraud money from Wall Street much like how Obamacare recovers health fraud. Wall Street reform will only get better.

3.   Many times, Democrats did not support Obama and ran away from him in 2010. Cory Booker undercut Obama in the campaign as you all know.

There were times were Obama wanted to do something great but Democrats were not as supportive (blue dogs mostly) and progressives were not supporting Obama either.

Ex: Jobs bill, Middle class tax cut fight before 2010 midterms (White House wanted fight but congressional Democrats did not support WH), Guantanamo (Democrats in congress blocked him and many Democratic mayors were undercutting Obama), Medicare expansion (Joe Lieberman), cap and trade (conservative and coal Democrats in senate), Libya (dennis kucinich threatened impeachment of Obama even though clinton did something similar with bosnia), executive order on secret money (russ feingold praised Obama and criticized Democrats for not supporting Obama).

Harry Reid has undercut Obama by keeping the filibuster in place. In fact, he is currently not supportive of Obama's gun reform efforts.

This ridiculous diary from one of Obama's deepest skeptics trashes Obama for not supporting Democrats in mid-terms. This diary is not true, devoid of context, and insulting.

This bottom diary explains why the skeptic is wrong.

4. Let me tell you that I have had it with those obsessed with trashing Obama as a caver. You would be trashing Ted Kennedy who was willing to compromise with republicans as well (No Child Left Behind).  Obama just got misguided at times until the 2011 debt ceiling fiasco as I explained. Obama stood strong MANY times against the "bad side" and pushed strongly for good things.

Remember that Obama townhall against republicans?

What about recess appointing Richard Cordray?

What about pushing hard for the jobs bill? Imagine if Occupy helped Obama with the jobs bill.

What about that 2011-2012 payroll tax cut battle where Obama stood firm.

What about endorsing marriage equality?

What about standing strong with women in the contraception fight?

Some people on this site continue to trash Obama for hippie punching Elizabeth Warren out of leading the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

This is one of those people, who wrote a rumor diary that is total BS.

Elizabeth Warren said to Andrea Mitchell on national television that she only wanted to set up the consumer financial protection agency. That is it. Elizabeth Warren has never been felt betrayed by Obama. In fact, Elizabeth Warren praised Obama for standing up to the big banks and appointing Richard Cordray.

Here is the link of Elizabeth Warren praising Obama.

Elizabeth Warren is holding the big banks accountable in the senate banking committee anyway. :)  Elizabeth Warren strongly endorsed Cordray for CFPA.

This blogger relies on speculation and other people's opinions so much that he made a comment in a recent diary that Obama is one of the most unsentimental men ever as a "fact". That was said by ONE unnamed aide. There are many aides to Obama who have praised him as having empathy. We know Obama loves to hug people, and he also weeped for the Sandy Hook children.

The blogger makes the untrue comment in this link. The comment is in the comments section.

On a final note, Obama has been much stronger on the social safety net than is given credit for. Those who get paranoid about Obama and Social Security go too far.

Obama strongly supports raising the cap, a HUGE fundamental difference between Obama and republicans.

Obama has been very strong on Medicare through his health care law.

Obama's medicaid expansion (15 million people) and modernization of Indian Health System will tear down walls of poverty.

Obama's healthy kids act

Obama's SCHIP expansion

Obama loosened Bill Clinton's terrible welfare reform requirements recently too. Obama overall improved the social safety net and expanded it more since LBJ.

Obama has since gotten rid of the bad advisors who misguided him on the deficit and other key issues. Obama's Jack Lew is one of the strongest defenders of social security.

Obama's second inaugural address strongly defended earned benefit programs.

A key person at the DOJ blocking investigations of Wall Street has resigned. Elizabeth Warren holding investigations gives me HUGE hope that Wall Street will be held accountable soon. Even with the settlement, they are still liable to criminal prosecutions. The civil protections are exempt.

Obama's second inaugural address and all the good he has done for society are setting up America perfectly for more progressive presidents after Obama. I hope Obama's fiercest critics read this diary intently and respectfully. Continue to criticize if need be, but be fair, be respectful of the fact that 90% of liberals approve of Obama, consider context, and acknowledge other viewpoints such as those who take a benefit of the doubt approach to Obama. Don't make everything a "blame Obama for everything that is wrong" shortsightedness. 90% of liberals approve of Obama because he really has been worth it for progressives.

We really are moving to a better place in the long-term because of Obama. Obama really is under-appreciated by progressives and Americans. Obama is certainly not as progressive as FDR. But he is more progressive than he is made out to be by those who find fault with him all the time. Obama is more than pushable to the left through left pressure/organizing. Let's keep doing that for the long-term and for future Democratic presidents. Thank you.

Originally posted to sreeizzle2012 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM PST.


So is Obama really worth having?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Friday Night 1 ET / 10 PT For Such an Extensive (7+ / 0-)

    piece of advocacy?

    I probably disagree with most of it, but I suggest republishing at a time of much higher participation and readership. There's a reason politicians release announcements they don't want to be widely read at this time of the week. The FP Overnight News has had maybe 5 comments in the last hour.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:07:04 PM PST

  •  Why don't we focus on actual issues (29+ / 0-)

    than on personalities, and abstain from the tendency to want to defend this or that person because we're predisposed to like them? I'll give Obama credit where it's due but on targeted killings without due process he's simply wrong, as in he's violating the constitution and committing impeachable offenses. You don't get mitigation on misdeed A just because you did good thing B. It doesn't work that way with the law. Plus, I don't buy this 11DC nonsense.

    If something was wrong under Bush then it's wrong under Obama. Period. End of discussion. I believe in the rule of law and good policy, not cutting someone slack because they're on your team.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:22:05 PM PST

  •  Also, I worked for a "non-profit" insurer (20+ / 0-)

    Trust me, they cared just as much about profits as "for profits". They just didn't call it profit. The CEO made a cool million when I was there, and yet their rates went up by double digits each year. Private insurance is a scam that has to be ended ASAP. On this I am a socialist. Public interest over private profit.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:24:49 PM PST

  •  Um... (10+ / 0-)
    Some LGBT activists and progressives (like Dan Choi) vitriolically criticized Obama for supposed lack of support on repealing DADT, DOJ's defending of DOMA, and other LGBT issues even as he was already doing a lot for LGBT people.
    Nobody was upset because President Obama didn't support DADT repeal, we were upset at the foot-dragging that could have potentially killed repeal for the foreseeable future. DADT repeal happened when it did because of activists on the ground, such as the folks at GetEQUAL who chained themselves to the White House fence, and people in Congress like Joe Lieberman and Kirsten Gillibrand. Yes, President Obama gets the credit for signing the bill, but let's not forget how it happened. Let's not rewrite history here.

    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

    by Chrislove on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:47:08 PM PST

  •  Also, the fact that (10+ / 0-)

    DOMA was being defended in court using incest and pedophilia references was a legitimate cause for criticism. Believe it or not. Kudos to the Obama administration for halting that defense. But the criticism was very well-deserved.

    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

    by Chrislove on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:52:50 PM PST

  •  Here I thought this was going to be history (13+ / 0-)

    about Jimmy Carter.


  •  This diary is utter BS -- it commits the same (10+ / 0-)

    silliness that it criticizes.  Greenwald and Ugyar find fault with PBO "100 percent of the time"?  Not that I've ever seen.  

    Or maybe I'm just projecting.  Taking pretty much a Chomsky/Vidal perspective, I see PBO as simply somewhat of an improvement on the corporatist/imperialist Clintonian model of right-center Democratic politician.  PBO himself recently described his domestic policies as old-fashioned moderate Republicanism.   Why should it be considered critical of PBO to agree with his own self-description?

    So, by self-description, PBO has defined himself as center-right on economic issues and hard right, but not quite as insane as the Bushies,  on security issues.   And are progressives supposed to be satisfied with right center domestic policies and very rightist national-security doctrines just because they're promoted by a half-AA man?  

    Alternately, please tell me how ANY of  PBO's policies, aside from immigration and LGBT issues, have promoted progressive policies.

    SURPRISE:  I voted for Obama in both 2008 & 2012, the 1st time I'd voted for a Dem for Pres. in a non-swing state since 1972.


    I'm not an idiot.  

    1.  PBO voted ag. the Iraq invasion, so that maybe he's not as insane about American imperialism and militarism as your average hypergingoistic national pol;

    2.  PBO appears to see a crucial role for truly multi-lateral attempts to control tyranny and terrorism overseas,  both diplomatically and militarily -- translation: he seems to be a lot saner than Bush and his fellow-travelers in the other party in this regard -- maybe not really same, but not nearly as insane;

    3. Holder and Geithner may be Wall St. pimps, but at least PBO doesn't tug his forelock when confronted with Jaime Daimon (of course, PBO doesn't have a forelock, but let's not get bogged down in the literal here -- neither does Paul Ryan, who's actually got an Adams Family widow's peak, whatever the hell that means, but certainly  kisses the butts of Wall St. banksters at every opportunity, to completely mix up anatomical metaphors); and Liz Warren, Sherrod Brown, Alan Grayson, and many, many other worthies (including Uncle Joe) are members of PBO's party;

    4.  PBO may not be a staunch defender of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; but at least he doesn't seem to want to eviscerate them by turning them over to the tender mercies of the insurance companies and Wall Street; and he did fight to pass a half-assed attempt at universal health insurance, even if it was based on the model of a right-wing think-tank and Mitt Romney.  

    I obviously could go on, but I'm sure you get the general theme -- PBO's policy initiatives could be a lot worse, and some of them ain't half bad.  But why any real progressive would give PBO anything more than such a very qualified endorsement -- "Sheesh -- you are so much not as bad as the barbaric yahoos in the other party" -- is very far beyond me.

  •  Pretty much all of the hate towards my President (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on this site is nothing more than jealousy, plain and simple.  There is nothing this man has done to warrant any criticism.  Not to say he won't do so in the future, but he has been perfect so far.

  •  Obama is a fine president. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citylights, sreeizzle2012, vadasz, Chi

    I think it is good to push him on issues,however,not justthink he will be ok without our input.  Your arguement is well thought out and extensive, however, I don't think the term "most underappreciated" is relevant.  Harry Truman said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."  I always express myself openly when it comes to his agenda and I consider him fantastic as a leader, but I also give him my honest opinions which can be critical along the way.  He has transformed politics as we know it.  It will be hard to overstate his contributions to America when he leaves office, but as long as he is in the chair of such huge  power he needs every voice to tell him how he is doing and what we want and expect.  You seem to have a great deal of affection for him underneath all this analysis so why not express this directly, it is ok to do this if that is what you feel. Many will agree with you others will not express themselves in that way and be niping at him from the far left to move him in that direction.  All the voices need to be heard in a democracy.

  •  Bushco corruption and abuse of power (7+ / 0-)

    The DOJ isn't even investigating.

    Iceland is convicting bankers and tycoons. We could too given the will.

    President Obama will be remembered well for smart competent administration, but nothing will ever change his having dropped the ball on accountability for the previous administration's crimes. Or even on halting their continuation.

    P.S. -- You can't blame advisors. Who hired them, after all? The whole "Good Tsar, bad advisors" belief system didn't work then either.

  •  At first I thought Obama (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, Boppy, jabney, Chi

    was one of the best presidents we have had. But after 4 years, I would say this:

    The man gives a great speech, is good looking and charismatic. But in the end it is what he did and does that matters. When you turn off the sound and the cameras, how effective as a leader, has this man been? He ran as a populist, but his policies are to the right of his soaring campaign "vision", that is if you can point to a single thing he actually championed, from start to finish without changing it to be palatable to the affected corporations/entrenched government power structure.

    I guess in the end I had hoped that there were a Democrat or Republican capable of changing Government to move toward the majority of the people's interest vs. consolidating wealth and power evermore (or that was still interested in pursuing that once in Washington). Obama twice now has made interesting sounds toward those ideals twice now when he ran for office. However what his actions have proven to me is even after the financial devastation of the previous eight years, the Democratic Party Machine is designed and willing to continue to sell what little the rest of us have left down the river. We will not be able to vote our way to good outcomes when gerrymandering has guaranteed "safe" districts for either wing of the corporate puppet show.

    Oh I "appreciate" what Obama is doing. Just not the way  you think. The things you say you don't "sugar coat" are what I pay attention to, because those are actual actions and outcomes.

  •  I don't agree with everything Obama's done, nor do (8+ / 0-)

    I give him a total pass for things left undone.   But there is much he cannot do alone.  I wish some of our democrats in the Senate and House were held to the same standards Obama is.

    Bottom line, both times, I consider the country lucky that Barack Obama was elected president.  (And the schadenfreude was sweet at the final tally for 2012 ;)  Having said that, though, can we progressives do a better job of getting involved and pushing/demanding more of our leaders?  Yes.

    I'm just glad to see a more "all of the above" approach to getting things done in his second term.

    Thanks for the thoughtful and supported diary.  Even someone who disagrees with your point(s) would have to credit your labor (IMHO).

    "In politics stupidity is not a handicap." Napoleon Bonaparte

    by citylights on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 03:53:55 AM PST

  •  a couple of points (12+ / 0-)

    it is Gene Sperling, not Sparling

    Obama has quite a ways to go to match being underrated as badly as was Truman during his time in office, when historians now consider him a near-great president for what he accomplished

    that said, the nature of the 24 hour news cycle, and the hunger after the disappointments of the CLinton presidency and 8 years of Shrub placed some liberal expectations on an unrealistic level

    that said, Obama still bears responsibility for not leaning more heavily on Harry Reid when the Dems had 59 votes nominally and access to some Republican votes, BEFORE the election of 2010.  Friends in the House of Representatives were very angry at the administration for making them take hard votes but then letting those bills die in the Senate without a vote.

    The White House did a piss-poor job of handling health care in the opinion of many, and had they done a better job on that 2010 would have been no where near as bad, and the Dems might even have held the House.  Remember, the way it was handled allowed the tea party anger to build and depressed the Democratic turnout.

    The implications were not only the loss of the House, but what happened in Governor's races and state legislatures.

    so I am sorry - while I agree with the criticisms of people like Greenwald and Ugyer to some degree, I think Obama and his White House bear a large amount of responsibility for the troubles in which he found himself, and thus I do not think he has been so badly underrated.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 04:07:27 AM PST

  •  Extensive piece of analysis. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg, sreeizzle2012

    Well done, but probably should be republished another time.

    Especially the reminder about the public option substitute, which will be in effect, is sorely needed on a frequent basis.

    He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

    by Sophie Amrain on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 04:36:19 AM PST

  •  Obama's main problem (6+ / 0-) that his staff are almost all filtered through the apparatus around Robert Rubin.  True, there are only twenty or so in the immediate White House staff, but they are the ones in the key positions.  Jack Lew is going to be no better than Bill Daley, Rahm Emmanuel, Eric Holder, Tim Geithner, or Larry Summers.  Neither is Mary Jo White, etc.  John Kerry was in a position to do much damage to Wall Street, so he bumped him over to Secretary of State and once again putting a Massachusetts Senate seat at risk of being captured by a teabagger.

    FDR didn't solve the nation's problems by tapping Wall Street for his staff; he drew a lot of talent from Columbia University.  When Obama appoints someone of the reputation and caliber of Bill Black, Elliott Spitzer or Eric Schneidermann, wake me up.

    His Supreme Court appointments have been sterling, however.  

    Aborticentrism-- the closer life gets to being your responsibility, the less sacred it becomes

    by cgregor on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 04:45:46 AM PST

  •  Personally I think you give Greenwald and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, sreeizzle2012, slothlax

    Ugyur too much credit. I honestly feel their principles (perhaps genuine) are merely vehicles for their shtick. The need to be outraged is primary, the items to be outraged about secondary. In such a model temperance and perspective simply aren't ingredients. Credit will not be given because credit does not feed outrage.

    I'll not attempt, here and now, to unpack my complicated feelings about this presidency. I commend you for your attempt, as an honest attempt at such in any presidency is no easy task. Sadly too many people here on both sides are not interested in putting in any effort, and instead merely go along with whatever cynicism they can most easily lay their hands on. It is only their naked narcissism that stands between them and genuine damage.

    "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

    by kenlac on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:22:46 AM PST

    •  And I would like to add, for the benefit of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sreeizzle2012, Quicklund

      the inevitable few who will attempt this tack: my comments are not to be taken as an endorsement of the premise of the headline.

      "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

      by kenlac on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:25:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Their ilk are talk radio jocks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If this ilk doesn't get enough phone calls per hour, advertising rates dry up. When advertising rates dry up, gigs dry up. When gigs dry up, heavy lifting looms on the horizon. Oh noes!

      So say whatever it takes to get people to call in. Pro, con, sputtering outrage, it don't matter. Just don't let the gig dry up.

    •  Pretty typical (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BradyB, blueoasis

      The level of arrogance and dismissiveness here is distressingly familiar.  I know it is a shock that there are people out there who actually hold progressive values and take them very seriously, but there are.  Hard to fathom, but you will have a clearer understanding once you understand this point

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:09:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Patently false statement number one (9+ / 0-)
    "I understand why there are some on this website, Glenn Greenwald, and Cenk Ugyur  who have passions of finding fault with Obama 100% of the time in EVERYTHING he does."

    The historic event is that same-sex marriage, for the first time, now has a supporter in the Oval Office. There are many disappointments and truly bad acts for which President Obama is responsible, but for one day at least, on this single issue, he demonstrated authentic and important leadership on a civil rights issue that affects millions.


    What are the top five reasons to vote for [Obama]? Number one: Supreme court, he has be an excellent on that. Two progressive justices. And it makes all the difference.

    •  exactly, diarist is being hyperbolic in the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, liberaldemdave


      And I have seen many other instances of Cenk praising the President.

      That's how it goes when you stand for principles over personalities: both praise and criticism. The Democratic Party is a political party, not a cult.

      The President was re-elected with the help of Progressives, that should give us more reason to speak out, not less. We are partially responsible for the outcome.

      WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: Right-to-Work/Right-to-Live(?)

      by JayRaye on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:22:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No, we don't (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, terrybuck, slothlax, Chi

    We criticize Obama for what he does wrong, and praise him for what he does right. Above all, we praise him for not being John McCain or Mitt Romney, or worse, in the same way that the Nobel Prize committee did for him not being George Bush.

    I have a friend, a college classmate, who is in the tiny remnant Loony Left that does criticize Obama on almost everything, and I can tell the difference between him and the Kossacks I discuss these matters with. (I also have a classmate and friend who only believes what he reads on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.)

    Obama was wrong on his relentless bipartisanship. He has evolved.

    Obama was wrong on Gay Marriage. He has evolved.

    Obama is still wrong on Too Big to Prosecute, on Bush-era war crimes, and on unrestricted drone assassinations.

    Obama is right on economic stimulus, on raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, on women's rights, on minority rights, on immigrant rights, and to some extent on worker rights, among other things. He is right on ObamaCare as far as it goes. He has become right on guns.

    Now, if you really want to be able to praise Obama, you have to come to grips with the wronger than wrong Republican obstructionism that prevents him, and Congress, and all of us doing the right thing. Polls consistently show a growing Progressive majority on almost all issues everywhere but in gerrymandered state legislatures and Congressional delegations. That means that we can envision Obama Unchained once we deal with the filibuster, election shenanigans, and above all:

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:40:16 AM PST

  •  Nevertheless, it moves. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:48:54 AM PST

  •  dude (7+ / 0-)

    He was re elected.  Time to move on from the Obama cannot fail, he can only be failed mentality.  

  •  research (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sreeizzle2012, slothlax

    I think part of the great disconnect is the fact that many people supported Obama on some things and then projected the rest of their beliefs onto him. Not completely unlike the way the RW projects things that they think the left believes onto him (Socialism!!!).  If they had taken the time to do a little reading they might have discovered that he was more centrist and not been so dissapointed in the first place.

    I also think there are a good many people who seem to hate a bully and their tactics until it is a bully that agrees with them. For example, all the screeching from Dan Choi (and even our beloved Rachel Maddow) about being able to do away with DADT with an executive order, but for other issues there should be separation of powers.  Pick one folks!

    At some point in this 24/7 world we have got to find a balance between getting things done quickly and getting them done well.  There should be a balance between what I call "Facebook and Twitter journalism" and a Congress that has all of technology at it's disposal and drags it's feet to keep progress from happening.  

    That said, it is still up to all of us to push for what we believe is right, but not fault one person for all of the nations ills.  George Bush did not get us into our messes alone.  The war on women did not happen over night.  Fixing it will not happen in one session of congress.  If there is one thing we should have learned from 2010 it's that pouting because we didn't get everything we wanted and staying home only made matters worse.

  •  My objective is to move things forward... (10+ / 0-) I praise Obama and Congress and state legislators when they do that and seek in various ways to push them, to hold their feet to the fire, when they don't push things forward. That, in my view, is our role as progressive activists. Far too much time is spent on personalities and not nearly enough on policies.

    Too much time is spent criticizing what is and not nearly enough on organizing to get us more of what should be.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:08:36 AM PST

  •  Kind of hard to take seriously a diary (5+ / 0-)

    that begins by referring to Uygur and Greenwald as "some on this website."  Uygur's last comment was made this past November 6; Greenwald last appeared on this site on May 23, 2008.

  •  I don't think I am with you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slothlax, Chi, blueoasis

    it seems to me that Obama has been quite a bit overappreciated and/or rated for some very understandable reasons. I certainly have and I am not ashamed of it. His first victory was a phenomenal achievement.

    Of course it's pretty tough with what he got to begin with to continue to achieve as convincingly the goals he articulated during his campaign speeches. But I do feel that for he has responsibilities for some not to great achievements he is selling too highly, imo.

    I think he should get off the campaign mode and stop talking too much. The discrepancies between what he seems to want to achieve and what he can achieve is too palpable and to many people his talk is not as convincing anymore as it once was.

    I wonder what made you write this long analysis.

    Whatever criticism I might have, my big questions always circly around WHAT we CAN do to push Senators, Congressmen, Judges and the President towards goals we seek.

    I am getting discouraged, because I simply don't know what you can do that actually would have an effect.

    Constantly I get depressed following the news even here on dailykos.  I actually don't want to follow the fri*gging news anymore, just to protect my own emotional well-being. I hate myself reading dailykos, can you believe it. :-). I am proud that I have cut down on TV almost completely. I refuse to get into twitter and facebook. May be a mistake, but the activism over the social media is not what I believe in.

  •  Not even close (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slothlax, terrybuck, Laurence Lewis

    Bill Harrison is WAY more underappreciated.

  •  I like some of Obama's policies (5+ / 0-)

    and I dislike others.

    One of the things that I'm most troubled by is his use of Executive power. I really wanted it rolled back after its misuse by Bush but now it seems to be cemented into place. That doesn't bode well for the future.

    I really dislike his administration's policies on civil liberties, whistleblowers and leakers or allowing those who tortured, or facilitated torture, to go unpunished.

    I don't like his lack of transparency, esp. after the promises he made to be open and aboveboard.

    I also don't like his policies on medical Marijuana.

    He said that he wanted people to stay engaged. Engaged means  different things to different people but critiques are as much a part of  responsible citizenship as kudos.

    Overall I think he's done good.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:24:47 PM PST

  •  it depends on one's perspective... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sreeizzle2012, slothlax, Catte Nappe

    As someone who considers themself to be very, very, very liberal/progressive, some of the concerns expressed by folks on the left, like my acquaintances in the Green Party, for instance, are somewhat understandable. They are livid with any Democrat, including President Obama who doesn't take their stance on every single issue.

    However, as someone who agrees almost 100% with Green Party folks when it comes to specific issues, they disturb me beyond believe with their irrational attacks on a President who was elected to represent ALL of the American people. In fact, their vitriole repulses me beyond belief. (It's why, in part, this very, very progressive/liberal person, who agrees with the Green Party on virtually all major issues, will never vote for a Green Party candidate (along with the fact that Ralph Nader siphoned enough votes from Democrats in Florida to ensure the victory of the major party candidate who was FARTHEST away from everything that Nader claimed to stand for)). does someone who considers themself to be far, far, far more left than President Obama justify not only voting for him, working on his campaign and continuing to support him?

    Because, while President Obama is nowhere near close to my ideology, he is, in fact, closest to my political viewpoint of any president in my lifetime. For that, he receives a lot of credit.  

    In fact, from my viewpoint, we've never actually had a liberal/progressive in the White House. We've had some presidents who support a few liberal/progressive ideas, but none of them a majority of the time. Even President Roosevelt, perhaps the most progressive president in history, who gave us the New Deal, was, actually, still quite conservative in many, many ways.'s a matter of perspective.

    Beyond ideology, though, you're right, President Obama has been tremendously successful, despite deliberate and blatant obstructionism by his Republican opposition.

    •  Amen to that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wdrath, Catte Nappe
      a President who was elected to represent ALL of the American people
      The way I see it, the office of President is inherently centrist, confined to the boundaries of the contemporary political landscape.  The best we can hope for is that by the end of a Democratic administration the landscape has been moved incrementally in our direction.

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:46:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NDAA Update (0+ / 0-)

    PBO has lost me - this is the last straw.

    The Indefinite Detention Clause: The NDAA has become the most controversial element of President Obama's foreign policy. Section 1021 of the NDAA bill of 2012 allowed for the "indefinite detention of American citizens without due process at the discretion of the President."

    Civil liberties advocates had roundly criticized the bill over Guantanamo and a separate section that could allow the military to indefinitely detain American citizens on suspicions of supporting terrorism.

     Basically, Section 1021 of the NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without charges or a trial.  Journalist Chris Hedges and several others sued Obama on the grounds of it being unconstitutional.  Judge Katherine Forrest agreed and issued an injunction on it.  This was immediately appealed by the Obama Administration to a higher court, which promptly issued a temporary stay on the injunction.


    by FakeNews on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 04:03:20 PM PST

  •  It is quite normal for Presidents who (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sreeizzle2012, Catte Nappe

    are in office during difficult times to be unappreciated during their time in office.  Even the ones who really are doing a good or better than just good job.
    Expectations and needs are high during difficult times.

    Look at history, Lincoln, FDR, LBJ even Carter all are looked on in very favorable light now, were reviled by their opponents and even members of their own parties.  Despite the fact that the latter three are still hated and reviled by Republicans, they are honored for their accomplishments at home by many and abroad by many.  

    Obama is likely enough of a student of political history to know that.

    Obama is not all that under appreciated if I remember the results of the last election correctly.  And he and Carter do have the gratitude of the world expressed by their Nobel Prizes.

  •  Not the most underappreciated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you were to ask me, that would be James K. Polk.

    Presidents prior to the termination of slavery will always be viewed unfavorably by modern lenses, but Polk's addition of California, Oregon, creation of an Independent Treasury, inclusion of Texas.

    Greatest land expansion outside of the Louisiana purchase in our history (not accounting for Alaska, but there are some caveats there), and yet no attention.

    I get the real point of your diary, but I worry we slip a little bit too much into hyperbole if we assume all figures in the public media eye are against us; or that they demean the office.   President Obama has a far more solid press then many presidents before him, and while he will face opposition that does not mean a level of disrespect or under appreciation.

    In the end, it is the lens of history that will judge, and that will take decades.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 12:37:04 PM PST

  •  What annoys me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sreeizzle2012, jan4insight

    about a lot of progressives is that just like the teabaggers, it's "my way or the highway". They refuse to acknowledge that politics is the art of the possible and requires compromise. I get pretty sick of it, even though I call myself a progressive. Sometimes you just have to be pragmatic.

    Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

    by Jilly W on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 12:51:28 PM PST

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