That is not likely to win him a single style point from the folks - particularly Fox News and outraged right-wing blogs - who have been demonizing Obama since Adam and Eve. Nor will it earn him a prominent seat on the dais when he says,
"But given the enormity of what he inherited, and given what he explicitly promised, it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb."
Sullivan, a self-described "conservative-minded independent," clearly believes Obama deserves a second term while at the same time conceding there have been days when the president ended up in Sullivan's doghouse. There have been moments when liberals like me (You didn't know?) shared the pain of seeing the White House stray from the page of what a progressive president ought to be doing.
It was, indeed, painful to see the Obama economic recovery plan include large loans to Wall Street, and bailout money to the auto industry which Bush delivered. Yet, as Sullivan asserts, , both initiatives succeeded, with much of the loans now returned to the U.S. Treasury. And where would the auto industry, now looking healthy again, have been without the bailout. Or for that matter, the hundreds of thousands workers up and down the line who would be unemployed today.
Sullivan notes that Obama's foreign policy has enjoyed the kinds of success that appeared out of reach - from Libya to the removal of Osama bin Laden - the latter of which Bush had earlier blithely written off as a bad debt.
At home, there was progress in recognizing the validity of gays in the military and other advances in equal rights.
Sullivan is happy to stress that "Under Obama, support for marriage equality and marijuana legalization has crested to record levels. Under Obama, a crucial state, New York, made marriage equality for gays an irreversible fact in American life."
The new health care reform law isn't everything that Obama wanted , but as Sullivan writes, the heavily assailed measure "crosses the Rubicon of universal access to private health care," noting that "making 44 million current free-riders pay into the system is not fiscally reckless; it is fiscally prudent. It is, dare I say it, conservative."
I long ago concluded that Obama, though exasperating at times, was a master chess player who had properly sized up his challenge by the vengeful Republican stonewallers and chose to take a more cautious and certainly more patient view of meeting his goals.
Perhaps Sullivan's most defining statement about the president is that to "understand Obama, you have to take the long view. Because he does."
The piece is timely, intruding on the series of Republican debates that have been geared for sausage lovers. Unless the GOP's level of discourse somehow rises from babbling inanities, the voter may reasonably ask: "Good grief! Is that all you've got?"