Thursday, September 27, 2012

President Obama: The Democrats' Ronald Reagan

If I could give a reading assignment, this would be it. Andrew Sullivan says what I think. I wish he had a better analogy than our Alzheimer's President, but he used to be a Repug and it kinda fits.

The hope many Obama supporters felt four years ago was not a phony hope. We didn’t expect miracles, but a long, brutal grind against the forces and interests that brought the U.S. to its 2009 economic and moral nadir. I’ve watched this president face those forces and interests with cunning and pragmatism, but also platinum-strength persistence. Obama never promised a mistake-free presidency, or a left-liberal presidency, or an easy path ahead. He always insisted that he could not do for Americans what Americans needed to do for themselves. In his dark and sober Inaugural Address he warned that “the challenges we face are real, they are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.”

But in a first term, he ended the Iraq War on schedule, headed off a second Great Depression, presided over much more robust private-sector job growth in his recovery than George W. Bush did in his, saved the American automobile industry, ended torture, and saw his own party embrace full marriage equality and integrate gays into the military. If those liberals who voted for him in 2008 think this is somehow a failure or a betrayal, in the context of the massive crisis he inherited, then they could not have been serious about real change in the first place. But some of us were—and still are. We understood that real change meets real resistance. In fact, you only know it’s real when the resistance is so strong. And the proper response to that resistance is not to fire the president who made this Reagan-like first-term progress in a far worse economic and fiscal climate, but to redouble on the Obama promise, to insist that America’s profound problems can only be addressed by a compromising president making bipartisan deals. And which ticket is likelier to compromise with the other party: Obama–Biden or Romney–Ryan? The question answers itself.

Just as Reagan became an icon only in his second term, Obama needs four more years to entrench and build upon the large, unfinished strides in his first term. That’s why, if you backed Obama in 2008, as a liberal wanting change, as an independent wanting pragmatic solution-seeking, or as a conservative hoping to drag the GOP back from Palin-style insanity, it makes no sense to bail on him now. Because this is when the payoff of the long game really kicks in, when stronger economic growth will put a wind at the president’s back, when a bipartisan deal on debt could lift business confidence and accelerate recovery, when universal health-care reform becomes irreversible and health-care spending is slowed, when the last soldier leaves Afghanistan, when millions of illegal immigrants can come out of the shadows and help build the next economy, and when the spiraling emotions of religious warfare can be calmed, managed, and handled, rather than intensified, polarized, and spread more widely.

This was always Obama’s promise. He has not betrayed it. And we—yes, we—-deserve a chance to fulfill it.
I have nothing to add.

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