Mother Jones has printed an intro to an upcoming Washington Monthly commentary by Paul Glastris concerning the evaluation of Barack Obama’s first term. The cover story is called “The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama,” a headline almost guaranteed to set your teeth on edge.
The main text of the Glastris article refers to what Obama has accomplished as opposed to the criticism of what he hasn’t.
It turns out that damn few Presidents have accomplished as much in under four years.
Obama deserves to be judged by ordinary human standards, not by standards of perfection. A sidebar to Glastris’ piece lists Obama’s top 50 accomplishments, and I think it was a mistake to create a list so long. It ends up looking like the usual boring laundry list that any president can trumpet. Better to pare it down to 10 really top achievements in order to highlight how many truly major accomplishments Obama has been responsible for. So I did. Except I couldn’t get there. I cut it down to 13 and got stuck. Here they are, in the same order as the original Washington Monthly list:
1. Passed Health Care Reform
2. Passed the Stimulus
3. Passed Wall Street Reform
4. Ended the War in Iraq
6. Eliminated Osama bin Laden
7. Turned Around US Auto Industry
9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
12. Reversed Bush Torture Policies
14. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program
16. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards
18. Passed Mini Stimuli (July 22, 2010; December 17, 2010; December 23, 2011)
22. Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants
27. Achieved New START Treaty
These are all big deals. Big fucking deals, to quote our vice president. Unless you’re just bound and determined to sulk in your tent while insisting that health care was a sellout and the stimulus was too small and Dodd-Frank was feeble and the mini stimuli were more like micro stimuli, there’s just no way around the fact that this is a historically colossal set of progressive accomplishments, especially in the face of a historically hostile political environment.
Remember, this was all during a term when Mitch McConnell went public saying he would make sure none of Obama’s desired legislation would get passed; when tea party members elected to the Congress spent more time criticizing the POTUS than promoting the better lives of the people.
Obama hasn’t done everything I wanted, either. I wish we were out of Afghanistan by now, and I wish we had single-payer health. Maybe someday these will happen. I do believe that no one is perfect… but some people currently in the presidential office are more perfect than others.
Here are a couple of clips, but I encourage you to go into Salon and read it all:
I guess I don’t either. I spent an hour or so watching them debate the START treaty this afternoon… actually debating an amendment or two which are NOT going to get on the bill (they’ll be voting on amendments at 3:00… that’s when I’ll turn it on again)… and was amazed at how frightening it is to have politicians control nuclear weapons. I had to turn the TV off while Senator Kyl was trying to find things to blame Obama on in this treaty… and, of course, to complain about being forced to work when they should be home celebrating Christmas.
Will they get this through by tomorrow or Tuesday? We’ll see. The Republicans are great stallers here and want to take up as much time as possible (and there are some judicial appointments that are taking up space in the Senate minutes as well) and perhaps we will have to leave until the January term begins and the Dems have less Senators and no control on the House. As Driftglass told Bluegal on their on-line broadcast Wednesday, the Republicans are hostage taking thugs that will use all kinds of crap to make important legislation either die or get watered way down. They hold our security hostage and the Dems and Obama are knuckling under. Do you hear the alarm going off?
I didn’t notice if Manchin has shown up today, but I’m not sure it matters. I hate to say it, but I think everything has been pre-decided. We’ll find out when the votes are over, but I don’t think we’ll be surprised.
- McConnell Will Oppose START Treaty, But Two Top Lawmakers Predict Passage (politicsdaily.com)
- Parties at Odds on START Treaty Support (online.wsj.com)
- Senate Republican Leader to Oppose Missile Treaty – New York Times (news.google.com)
- McConnell: I can’t support START; Update: Deal reached on budget (hotair.com)
- Senate votes down McCain amendment to the START treaty (cnn.com)
- Senators clash on arms treaty as pressure grows (reuters.com)
- In letter to Senate, Obama says New START pact won’t limit missile defense – Washington Post (news.google.com)
- US Senate rejects bid to kill Russia treaty (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Obama invokes Reagan to push START treaty (reuters.com)
- START Treaty Wins Backing of GOP Senators Snowe, Collins (politicsdaily.com)
- Congress rushes to finish bills before holidays (seattletimes.nwsource.com)