Posted on 20-10-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

It has been very frustrating in the last year to listen to former Obama supporters complain that “he has not done anything.”  Faced with the worst economic condition for an incoming president since FDR, two wars, an opposition committed to voting no on any administration proposal and blocking many nominees (who later somehow get confirmed almost unanimously) and a wing of his own party paralyzed by timidity, Obama did not possess a magic wand to clean up the mess he inherited.  He could have easily lapsed into Bill Clinton style incrementalism, but did not.  My biggest complaints against him are (1) the opportunities squandered in pursuit of bipartisan compromise with an opposition united in lockstep truculence and expecting Obama to pass only their version of legislation (even though they lost the last two election cycles), and (2) his failure to clean up the excesses of the Bush administration’s tactics in the war on terror, where he has provided soothing rhetoric but little substance.  And yet in 2 years Obama has a litany of legislative accomplishments that dwarf his predecessors.  While the extreme left is disappointed in the health-care bill, Obama is the first president to actually get such comprehensive legislation through.

I will not make an exhaustive list of his accomplishments, because I don’t have to.  I recommend reading this article from Tim Dickinson at the Rolling Stone which lays them out.

I will harp on one accomplishment that has not got the press it deserves, and is noted in Dickinson’s article.  Passed with universal opposition from the Republican Party and to the disgust of libertarians of the Chicago school, Obama did what Reagan also did in the early 1980’s.  He bailed out Detroit.  The bailout prevented the cascading job losses in the Midwest that would have followed a collapse of General Motors and Chrysler.  The job picture would be far bleaker if he adopted the Republican party’s prescription of letting these companies fail.

Dickinson does not dwell too much on foreign policy (but he does raise some of the points below) where a lot of Obama’s accomplishments have been in tone more than substance.  But he has managed to bring Russia and China on board for sanctions on Iran and has stayed away from the pointless neo-con drumbeat for war.  The irritants from Caracas to Tehran have had a harder time rallying anti-American sentiments against the Obama administration.  The lack of substance unfortunately reflects the limitations of American power compounded by Israeli intransigence (aided by their allies here) and Palestinian weakness.

Much more needs to be done (notably sensible immigration reform grounded in reality).  But the man mocked as an inexperienced community organizer has accomplished a lot with relatively little public infighting within his administration.  These are accomplishments the Republicans will have a hard time rolling back.

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[…] positions for short term electoral prospects.  With Democrats unable or unwilling to tout their accomplishments during the Obama presidency, it is no wonder that the enthusiasm gap came into being.  However, […]

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