Supporters -- actually more like cheerleaders -- of President Obama have now taken the line that he is the "most transformative" president since FDR. That is what cheerleader Rachel Maddow said the other night and poor Ed Schulz suffering from battered Obama syndrome also tries to sell, as MSNBC seems to be hell bent on being as intellectually dishonest about Obama and his accomplishments as Fox is in their attacks on him. Which doesn't leave much for people who simply want some objective truth.
So here is some objective truth. So far, one can accurately define the Obama presidency as the "better than nothing" presidency. And in other cases the worse than nothing presidency.
Yes he came into office having to deal with the worst collection of problems of any incoming president, left for him by the most incompetent, inept over his head president in history in George W. Bush and an inept,incompetent and blindly ideological Republican congress that together caused more damage to the United States in 8 years than the Soviet Union could do in 50.
But that would have been the case no matter which Democratic candidate had been the nominee and therefore elected. (no Republican had a chance to win in 2008 after 8 years of Bush and the Republicans).
The issue is how has Obama handled the problems he was elected to solve and accomplish the things he was elected to do?
The answer is, not so good. Which given Obama's 13 year political history of being a talker and not a doer, having never accomplished a thing in his political life other than get elected to the next office, Obama's mediocrity as a president shouldn't come as much of a surprise. At least not to people who were paying attention during the Democratic primaries.
The one thing to keep in mind about Obama's presidency is that Obama has had the biggest congressional majority of any president in more than 50 years. And what has he done with that? Produced everything from mediocrity to disaster.
The "big fucking deal" that Joe Biden called the healthcare reform bill which, failing at achieving true healthcare reform was called health insurance reform, was described by the senators and members of the House who passed it as "better than nothing". That's it. Better than nothing. Because that's all it is.
And the reason for that is Barrack Obama .
Obama couldn't handle the Republicans even with the biggest congressional majority in 50 years, couldn't or wouldn't rebut their steady drumbeat of lies about healthcare reform, showed no backbone, drew no lines in the sand, gave no direction to congress, showed no leadership as most congressional Democrats admitted behind the scenes, couldn't handle Joe Lieberman, and in the end sold out the only really transformative component of healthcare reform, the public option, even though there were the votes to pass it with reconciliation in both the House and the senate.
The New York Times had reported that Obama threw the public option under the bus last August, selling out to healthcare industry lobbyists and drug companies, promising to ditch it in return for certain concessions, then in true Obama fashion, went out and made public speeches vowing to get it passed knowing that behind the scenes he would undermine it. As Nancy Pelosi said, the only reason we don't have a public option now is because Obama didn't support it and didn't fight for it.
Had their been a public option there wouldn't have been a need for health "insurance" reform since the public option would have forced insurance companies to make those changes on their own if they wanted to compete with the government run plan.
Far from being transformative, Obama's incompetence in handling the healthcare debate and then his selling out the public option because he didn't have the fortitude,ability or conviction to get it passed, resulted in a mediocre healthcare bill that Senators from Tom Harkin to Bernie Sanders described as"better than nothing". After all that, after a year of intense debate, Hitler signs and swastikas ( all of which contributed to Obama's selling out) after members of congress stuck their necks out in the face of Republican attacks, the bill that finally passed was "better than nothing" thanks to Obama.
One other point you wont hear from those in the media who still refuse to face the truth about Obama; a reporter for the Washington Post reported that just after Scott Brown's election, the "transformative" president had decided to drop healthcare reform, put it on the back burner and concentrate on "jobs, jobs, jobs", only because he thought it was the politic thing to do. According to reports, Al Franken stood up in a meeting Democratic senators were having with David Axelrod about what to do next after the Brown victory, and when he was told about Obama's new strategy of shelving healthcare for jobs, Franken got into a shouting match with Axelrod, accusing both Axelrod and Obama of having no convictions.
Other senators agreed with Franken and the result, predictably was Obama making a speech telling congress to "show some backbone" and pass health "insurance" reform, supporting the use of reconciliation if they had to -- something Obama could have supported a year earlier and saved the congress, congressional Democrats and the country a lot of angst and political blood letting, and would have passed the public option in the process. That would have been real leadership.
Members of congress, most of whom were disappointed with the bill have said there are some good things in it. And there are. None of which would have been needed had the public option been passed. And the jury is still out over whether the current bill will mean a big increase in rates for consumers.
Obama's latest "achievement" is financial reform and the same things are being said about that as was said about healthcare. Its better than nothing. But people in the know call the bill tepid and a watered down version of what it should be.
How good is Obama's financial reform bill in protecting consumers against abuses by banks? When the senate passed their version of the bill, bank stocks shot up.
The biggest criticism of the reform is that it didn't reform any of things that actually needed reforming and caused the economic melt down in the first place.
To date, working with the biggest congressional majority any president has had in decades, with a public who, after 8 years of Bush and the Republicans were hungry for some real reform and accomplishment, not one promise or pledge Obama has made has been fulfilled. Instead, as Matt Taibii wrote in Rolling Stone regarding Obama's health care bill, the country and Obama's supporters have been on the wrong end of a bait and switch, bills that are just shells of what they should have been but Obama touts as success. It reminds one of the line about Richard Nixon, "would you buy a used car from this man"?
Add to this his response to the Gulf spill which people in Louisiana consider worse than Bush's response to Katrina, and the fact that he simply lied about the extent of his response ( 3 weeks into the spill, responding to criticism he hadn't done enough he promised the government was doing "everything it could". Three weeks later, responding to criticism he wasn't doing enough he said the government was "doubling and tripling" its efforts) and now there is light being thrown on what is looking like a fiasco in Afghanistan. If Rachel Maddow continues to extol Obama's accomplishments on MSNBC somebody is going to have to get her a sock puppet.
It is also clear that Obama was a total failure at the G-20 summit unable to get any other country to agree with his economic approach of stimulus spending. Even Great Britain rejected it and, as with other countries, said they would approach cutting their deficits by cutting spending.
The real question for congressional Democrats up for re-election this year is going to be what to do about Obama. No Democrat Obama has backed since he's been in office, whether in primaries, or in general elections, congressional or gubernatorial has won ( I dont count Blanche Lincoln).
With Obama's approval ratings nothing short of bleak regarding every aspect of his presidency, congressional Democrats are going to have to keep one thing in mind if they want to retain control of the House and senate. They are going to have to do better than nothing. And that is going to mean distancing themselves from Obama.
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