Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sullivan: Blistering Obama's critics

ANDREW SULLIVAN, the widely published author/blogger (Daily Beast), has opened a new front in this yakety political year by damning both ends of the ideological spectrum for failing to credit the successes of the Obama presidency. In a long cover story in the current Newsweek, Sullivan ventures deeply into the record of Obama'a first term, accusing his critics of being "simply - empirically - wrong."

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?"


David Hess said...

On health-care reform, in particular, which is the bete noire of right-wingers, Sullivan is absolutely correct in pointing out that Obama's plan (especially in preserving a key role for private insurance companies while insisting that "free riders" pay up to be insured) is conservative in nature. Fact is, prominent Republicans in the past who now denounce it once recommended a similar approach. One of them, who is likely to be Obama's opponent this fall, actually put one model of it into effect in Massachusetts. A "liberal" version of it would have called for a single-payer system, such as Medicare, and would have been far preferable to the plan that finally passed in Congress. But right-wing opposition in the Senate to such an approach doomed that alternative, and Obama had to settle for the conservative version. As a reporter who covered both the congressional fight over health care and the desperate bid to bail out the auto industry and the financial meltdown of the economy, I can attest that this country teetered on the brink of ruin -- a fate that would have dwarfed the decade of sorrow during the Great Depression. Obama and his team, along with the thin line of Democratic support in Congress, averted this disaster. Unfortunately, good deeds rarely go unpunished, and the misguided rage of benighted right-wingers led to a turnover to the Tea Party in Congress. Since then, score one for dysfunction and gridlock as the know-nothings continue to embargo economic stimulus efforts, jobless aid, and a fair sharing of the federal tax burden.

PJJinOregon said...

Obama's stature and success drove Mitch McConnel and Boehner to pursue a scorched earth (only say no) defense. There can be no higher compliment, even from Sullivan.

FoxNewsFan84 said...

What an absolute embarassment.

Weren't news magazines like Newsweek and Time known for responsible, straight journalism at one point in time? When did they take on such blatant advocacy roles for their favorite (Democrat) politicians? The media is supposed to be a thorn in the side of the people in power, not leading the charge against anyone who dares criticize the people in power.

Never in American history has a president been as coddled and protected by the media as is President Obama. The media heavily invested itself in Obama's presidency and now they are doing everything they can to protect their investment, even if it means blatantly distorting the record.

How does Obama get credit for the TARP bailout being successful (assuming it is) when the legislation itself was passed and implemented before he even took office? How does Obama get credit for gay marriage passing in New York when Obama is publicly opposed to same sex marriage and has no role in state law? How does Obama get credit for growing support for marijuana legalization when he is publicly opposed to it? Obama deserves as much credit for those things as he does for winning a Nobel Peace Prize.

JLM said...

Dear Egregious,
That's what I think whenever I watch FoxNews....

"What an absolute embarassment."

Mencken said...

"Never in American history has a president been as coddled and protected by the media as is President Obama".

There's a book called "On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency". Check it out Sir Egregious Parrot.

Grumpy Abe said...

And let us not forget how the cowed media, including the Washington Post, and New York Times, bought into the Bush-planned invasion of Iraq, fearing that it was no time to criticize a popular president. (Commercial break: I deal with that in the book featured on the Grumpy Abe page). The so-called liberal media later recanted, but, of course, it was way to late.