Early Morning Open Thread: Keep the Faith

(via Electronic Village)
Longish, nicely reasoned paean by NYMag‘s Jonathan Chait on “The Case for Obama: Why He Is A Great President“:

… I have never felt even a bit of the crushing sense of disappointment that at various times has enveloped so many Obama voters. I supported Obama because I judged him to have a keen analytical mind, grasping both the possibilities and the limits of activist government, and possessed of excellent communicative talents. I thought he would nudge government policy in an incrementally better direction. I consider his presidency an overwhelming success.

I can understand why somebody who never shared Obama’s goals would vote against his reelection. If you think the tax code already punishes the rich too heavily, that it’s not government’s role to subsidize health insurance for those who can’t obtain it, that the military shouldn’t have to let gays serve openly, and so on, then Obama’s presidency has been a disaster, but you probably didn’t vote for him last time. For anybody who voted for Obama in 2008 and had even the vaguest sense of his platform, the notion that he has fallen short of some plausible performance threshold seems to me unfathomable.

Obama’s résumé of accomplishments is broad and deep, running the gamut from economic to social to foreign policy. The general thrust of his reforms, especially in economic policy, has been a combination of politically radical and ideologically moderate. 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…

And, via Dave Weigel, a Maryland radio ad:

26 replies
  1. 1
    Cermet says:

    But Obama didn’t get single payer nor override congress to close Gitmo or override congress to change the constitution to prevent torture or did I say get single payer or make congress repeal DOMA or stop congress from forcing him to compromise or did I say get single payer? or, because and shut up!

  2. 2
    piratedan says:

    faith…. I got that covered, but cripes its hard when the msm is busy promoting a horse race 24/7 when an election is supposed to be taking place and the fact that it is a horse race is what matters apparently, not for what any of the candidates stand for (although in good conscience, there’s really no way to know what is going on in the mind of Mitt Romney, that bastard will say anything to anyone if it means he can get closer to the Presidency).

  3. 3
    amk says:

    Chait makes a very good case. Thx AL.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    I’m going to have to start following Chait. Good stuff.

  5. 5
    scav says:

    @piratedan: Speaking of the horses racing, now they’re joined by the butterflies. Collect enough animals, we could build ourselves a carousel — spin, song and dance already included.

    This from the bbc: A butterfly’s wing beat from the White House
    All evidence mentioned in same is in Obama’s favor, and yet the thrust and take-away is a throwing up of hands as we simply can’t know if any of this or anything else matters

    Remember that butterfly whose wing beat in the Amazon causes a storm over the Atlantic? I think she is hovering over the election right now. (bolded in original)
    I don’t exactly mean the final days of campaigning are straight out of chaos theory. More that it is impossible to predict what small event might matter massively.

    blather blather blather, bring up a little actual possible evidence, instantly mentioning it just might not theoreticlly matter and clutching firmly to the now-traditional elision of the difference between winning the majority of the popular vote and winning the election (don’t forget to ignore why a swing state is actually a fucking swing state). Soupçon of sous entendu sub-text that statistcs are suspect. It really a minute gem of the growing genre.

    evidence, logic and reasoning, sooo twentieth century journalism. No idea if perpetrator is a serial offender or just doing the equivalent of turning in a philosophical term paper when he hasn’t bothered to read anything beyond the dust jackets. A contributory small pebble to the cairn over the inert but randomly twitching press corpse.

  6. 6
    weaselone says:

    The press seems to be taking the opportunity to put their champagne and caviar guts on the scales again. There are still white working class neighborhoods in Staten Island without power who need food support after three days. This is apparently Obama’s Katrina.

  7. 7
    Dream On says:


    But Obama didn’t get single payer nor override congress to close Gitmo or override congress to change the constitution to prevent torture

    This. Which is why I didn’t vote for him. Among many reasons.

  8. 8
    Schlemizel says:

    I think for many ‘low info’ voters (those that, are just simple farmers. . . people of the land. . . The common clay of the new West. You know… morons) saw how bad things were and heard Hope and Change and expected rainbows and lollipops to come shooting out unicorns butts after 08. Those are the folks who would switch away from Obama to Romney in 12. Then there are the LI lefties who suffer from racist stereotypes & thought “hes a colored fella, must be a radical”). I’m sure many of them are pulling for Jill Stein & disappointed Ralph Nader is not on the ballot.

    BHO was not my first choice but when I went to my precinct caucus & saw the energy & excitement, we had 5 times more people show up to them than any other year all for Obama, I changed my vote. He has been just about the President I expected. Its the Dems that have failed when there was a failure (and unlike the clown car careening down the far right side we actually admit we are not perfect).

    What changed was that most if not all of those extra 100 people who showed up on caucus night didn’t stick around & do the hard work of hammering Congressmen and Senators for their votes. They didn’t remain fired up and ready to go when the trench warfare started. They mostly sat on their hands in 10 and confirmed the suspicions of all the weak-kneed, spineless Dems lead by the DLC. They didn’t show up this year at caucus either.

    I don’t buy that President Obama is the second coming of FDR or even an updated Ronald Reagan but he is a damn sight better that any of the alternatives we have been offered and a damn sight better than most of the country, including many who voted for him, deserves. Hes a damn fine President & deserves re-election.

  9. 9

    I agree with Chait thoroughly. I think, and have thought, that Obama is a Great President. His accomplishments are incredible. He has had VERY few failures that I can see, and the only ones that come to mind – Gitmo remaining open and not passing further rounds of stimulus – were beyond any president’s power because congress would not allow them.

    However, I think Chait does not understand the nature of anti-Obama sentiment on the left. He gives Obama’s critics too much credit. The criticism against Obama has almost entirely been imaginary (Obama caves! He’s going to cut SS this time, I know it!), wild misrepresentations of legal realities (Awlaki and wiretapping), or evaluations of his foreign policy based on standards that no president has EVER matched (Drones!). In other words, Chait is politely ignoring that criticism of Obama from the left is mostly based on bullshit lies. The best face I can put on that is that a lot of liberals have been lied to by the commentators they trust.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    scav says:

    @Schlemizel: Wasn’t my favorite either (generally can’t find one, and I thought he compromised too quickly) and he certainly hasn’t prioritized, let alone achieved, everything on my wish list, but I’ve come to respect and value his intelligence and commitment to getting the system to work the way it is supposed to — to rebuild the foundations and infrastructure of a functioning system of government — over the facile glitter of getting everything my own way. A Green W Bush would be just different flavor of nightmare.

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Dream On: Some day I hope to be that good.

    Alas, as yet I am not.

  13. 13
    1badbaba3 says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: It’s not that he doesn’t understand the criticism from the left. More like he rightly regards it as insignificant. Because it is. Insignificant. Pretty much like that of the right. Are there arguments to be made against Obama? Sure. But there aren’t many and fewer still that actually hold up under scrutiny.

    Ponies and nullification are great in theory. Actual tangible change is so much better.

    Forward as a motherfucker.

  14. 14
    gnomedad says:

    The combination has confused liberals into thinking of Obamaism as a series of sad half-measures, and conservatives to deem it socia1ism, but the truth is neither.

    Well put, but the wingnuts are not confused. Obama is a socia1ist because shut up, that’s why.

  15. 15
    Robin G. says:

    OT: I’m not complaining about the content of this post, ’cause it’s interesting, but could the FPers maybe stop labeling threads as Open when they’re not? I mean, this post clearly has a focus and a point. If I want to post something random I feel like I have to label it OT.

    It’s not like it’s the end of the world or anything, but my internal organizer keeps noticing it and wanting to tag-alter.

  16. 16
    1badbaba3 says:

    @Robin G.: But it is, it is an open thread. Albeit one of the early morning variety. But an open thread nonetheless.

    I know. We are all feeling it. Despite my unshakable confidence, I am still a little antsy. My fingers don’t seem to want to work properly, I keep typing multiple repeating letters so fingers becomes finggerrs. Part anxiety, part cold (I smoke so I have to be outside and it is cold here in mid-Michigan), and part too much coffee. So I’m a little shaky right now. Just want to get past next Tuesday and feel that sweet release. Also too, I’m curious to see what outrages (and poutrages) they will concoct to try and rain down on our celebration. I just can’t wait to chortle heartily at the lameness of their lamentations.

  17. 17
    Interrobang says:

    I was in a store yesterday evening, and they had some American tv channel on, and some long political ad came on with a guy with a Yakov Smirnov accent, talking about how he was voting Republican because “under socialism, the rich are poorer, but the poor are poorer too,” and if you take away the dangling carrot that you, too might be able to join the 1%, nobody will ever work hard again.

    It was actually pretty offensive. I don’t actually believe for a second that the guy in the ad was actually someone who’d lived under Communism, because if he had, he would know damn well that Obama is nothing like a socialist. Either that, or he’s got all the ethical scruples of a bowl of mouldy cornflakes and the GOP paid him off.

    Either way, it’s deceptive, stupid, and scare-tactic-ish. Not news exactly, but a little bit disturbing to hear anyway. My condolences.

  18. 18
    NCSteve says:

    Okay, I realize this is a descent into geekdom that is so deep . . . well, never mind, because this is obviously the right place for it.

    I’ve come to realize that Democratic base consists, and for decades has mostly consisted of two types of people, Spocks and McCoys. Goal driven, policy wonkish, ruthlessly logical people who don’t waste time on what they don’t believe is possible, and erratic, yet often brilliant, people mostly driven by an emotional drive to serve and heal.

    Kirk (*cough*JFK*cough*) could unite them and mediate between them and get the best from both of them. But whenever Kirk left Spock in command and things got tense, all the more emotive, irrational human members of the crew would invariably get all restless and insubordinate and annoying because, Spock was busy getting Kirk’s ass out of a crack, generally operating on a plane way above above them, and had neither the time, the talent, nor the inclination to tend to their fee-fees.

    Does any of this sound familiar? There’s a reason people call him “our first Vulcan president.” And if the crew of the Enterprise had been half Vulcan, things probably would have gotten just as nasty as they do between “Obots” and “Emocrats” in the blogs whenever Spock was in command.

  19. 19
    eyelessgame says:

    @NCSteve: I don’t think I’ve ever yet awarded an Internet to anyone. Where would you like yours sent?

  20. 20
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NCSteve: Well played!

  21. 21

    This is good.

    I’d suggest that Bill Clinton fits the ‘Kirk’ role when he’s at his best, also, too.

  22. 22
    1badbaba3 says:

    @NCSteve: Yeah, but Spock was only half Vulcan.

  23. 23
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Interrobang: If it’s the same one I saw, the guy paid for the ad himself. I kept thinking of the Cuban exiles with their fantasy about how the poor Cubans have had it so much worse under Castro than they did before Castro took over.

  24. 24
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God: I’ve always held that Kirk and Clinton had a lot of points of similarity. Especially that whole “I feel your pain,” thing. And, well, the bunga bunga. As Kirk said: “I’ve never met a paragon.”

  25. 25
    NCSteve says:

    @1badbaba3: As are the Spocks in the Democratic base.

  26. 26
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Interrobang: The guy in that ad is a former Hungarian who indeed paid for the ad with his own money. He’s a Wall Street big money guy; of course, right?

    Considering what an authoritarian (just this close to being fascist) government is now in charge there, he’s got no reason to complain; communism was better than what is incubating over there right now – on his blog, Krugman recently had an interesting series from another economic writer who was over there observing this happening on the ground. Things like the dominant party changing the rules so that they can never be voted out of power again, and firing any judge who disagreed and stocking the judicial branch with fellow party members. The parallels to how Germany in the mid-30’s devolved are strikiing; that’s what mr. “I spent my own money on this” should be concerned about, provided he gives a crap about his homeland. Considering how rich he got being a Wall Stree pirate her, he probably couldn’t care less.

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