Andrew Sullivan Makes a Strong Case for Obama

Andrew Sullivan makes the case that now is the time for progressives to rally to President Obama, given his achievements and the political system as it exists (rather than as we might want it to be):

[G]iven the enormity of what he inherited, and given what he explicitly promised, it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb. Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama’s long game—and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country’s future as his original election in 2008.

This is how he makes his case:

But the right isn’t alone in getting Obama wrong. While the left is less unhinged in its critique, it is just as likely to miss the screen for the pixels. From the start, liberals projected onto Obama absurd notions of what a president can actually do in a polarized country, where anything requires 60 Senate votes even to stand a chance of making it into law. They have described him as a hapless tool of Wall Street, a continuation of Bush in civil liberties, a cloistered elitist unable to grasp the populist moment that is his historic opportunity. They rail against his attempts to reach a Grand Bargain on entitlement reform. They decry his too-small stimulus, his too-weak financial reform, and his too-cautious approach to gay civil rights. They despair that he reacts to rabid Republican assaults with lofty appeals to unity and compromise.

They miss, it seems to me, two vital things. The first is the simple scale of what has been accomplished on issues liberals say they care about. A depression was averted. The bail-out of the auto industry was—amazingly—successful. Even the bank bailouts have been repaid to a great extent by a recovering banking sector. The Iraq War—the issue that made Obama the nominee—has been ended on time and, vitally, with no troops left behind. Defense is being cut steadily, even as Obama has moved his own party away from a Pelosi-style reflexive defense of all federal entitlements. Under Obama, support for marriage equality and marijuana legalization has crested to record levels. Under Obama, a crucial state, New York, made marriage equality for gays an irreversible fact of American life. Gays now openly serve in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act is dying in the courts, undefended by the Obama Justice Department. Vast government money has been poured into noncarbon energy investments, via the stimulus. Fuel-emission standards have been drastically increased. Torture was ended. Two moderately liberal women replaced men on the Supreme Court. Oh, yes, and the liberal holy grail that eluded Johnson and Carter and Clinton, nearly universal health care, has been set into law. Politifact recently noted that of 508 specific promises, a third had been fulfilled and only two have not had some action taken on them. To have done all this while simultaneously battling an economic hurricane makes Obama about as honest a follow-through artist as anyone can expect from a politician.

David Frum, representing the unhinged right, burnishes his credentials with this response. They could use some burnishing.



Discuss

12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Yes

    although in typical Sullivan style, he credits Obama for all the good things that have happened, and blames him for none of the bad. But still, discounting for Sullivan’s fanboyism, it’s still a fairly strong case.

    The major thing we have not accomplished is dealing with global warming in a credible, serious way. And this won’t happen until normal people start getting pissed off about it. It may happen; it’s not like the issue is going away.

    But an election is *not* a referendum; it’s a choice. And if you don’t think that Obama is a preferable candidate (from a prog perspective) to Romney or Gingrich, you’re out of your mind. And one of the best ways to advance a progressive agenda is to assist with a blowout, landslide Obama victory in November — *which is well within our grasp*. We need to hold the Senate; take over the House (hello Richard Tisei, we see you hiding over there); get Elizabeth Warren elected in a romp and have other pols adopt her language and agenda.

    There’s an enormous opportunity this year, if we’re smart enough to seize it.

    • Strong Case with the distorted info.

      1. The votes to save the auto industry were already in the bag when done Obama took office. House vote was in December if I recall.
      2. The Iraq war ended according to original plan…but then he simply moved the troop to Afghanistan.
      3. He totally reverse his Gitmo position.
      4. Obama has made stride in the gay community, but according to Politifact Obama’s promise to “Urge states to treat same sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws” was broken. Which I think is the most important gay related issue.
      5.Health care was passed but is extremely unpopular because of the impact on our budget deficit. Already HealthCare is about 25% of our US budget and Obama’s plan will only increase this.
      6. Elizabeth Warren’s latest viral message about lobby money could bite the Democratic party in the A$$. In 2010, Democrats took more money from lobbiist by factor of 2:1. Scott Brown took $112,000…yet Harry Reid to over $1,000,000.

      The only shot Obama has at the moment is the fact that the Republicans don’t have a candidate that is well rounded. Each one comes with his own issues. Personally, I’m an independent and haven’t decided on my Presidential Candidate. They all scare me! Currently there we have Elite Politicians and Elite Capitalist and they are working only for themselves. GE and Warren Buffett are so far up Obama’s butt …why? Because Buffett has $125,000,000 invested in GE…and you all know GE paid ZERO in taxes last year right?…they actually got $3 Billion BACK from the government! We are all screwed until we get the money out of the Government and let business succeed or fail on their own without government favors. All companies should be treated equally. Tax the business more…not the people.

      PS: Obama also broke his promises to be transparent with lobbying information and to be tougher against lobbyist. EPIC FAIL!! This is the root of our problem.

      • You're absolutely wrong about health care

        vis-a-vis the deficit. In fact, the PPACA helps the deficit. Don’t take my word for it, talk to the CBO:

        Impact on the Federal Budget in the First Decade

        CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting H.R. 2 [ie, repealing the Affordable Care Act] would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period. By comparison, last March CBO and JCT estimated that enacting PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act would reduce federal deficits by $124 billion over the 2010-2019 period. The difference between the two estimates for the 10-year projection periods is primarily attributable to the different time periods they cover. Over the eight years that are common to the two analyses (2012-2019), enactment of PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act was projected last March to reduce federal deficits by $132 billion, whereas the repeal of that legislation is projected now to increase deficits by $119 billion.

        And what if the Republicans hadn’t blocked the nomination of Don Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? We might have saved even more. Berwick is the nation’s leading expert on delivering money-efficient health care with better quality, and the GOP decided to demagogue his nomination. Revolting.

        • Accuracy of CBO and JCT Estimates for Health care

          The cost increases are related to the fact that the plan is neither comprehensive or universal; we all recognize weaknesses within it. The plan needs to evolve, thus it will continue to increase in cost as it is modified. The CBO and JCT calculations have very limited accuracy. CBO & JCT calculations are based on economic assumptions and the fact that existing tax codes and fiscal policy stay the same. There are many assumption within this calculation which too often result in significant error. I would prefer to see a health program similar the Mass Health so it can be run by the state. It will be much easier to monitor and control costs on a state level. Each state in the union should be required to carry a plan and mandated to implement it within 5 years, at which time the present plan can be eliminated. There are too many details to list, but I think on state level a program would be cheaper and the lower cost would allow the program to be both comprehensive and universal.

  2. There's definitely a strong case...

    …and yes, he’s worlds better than the alternative. Fighting a little harder by taking his case to the people on some of those things he mentioned would still have been very nice, however.

  3. This is the best endorsement of Obama that I have seen:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/27/biden-panetta-only-adviser-to-tell-obama-go-on-bin-laden-mission/
    Thank you, Joe Biden, for your fearless honesty.

  4. I support Obama. But I remember about Andrew Sullivan...

    …I’m so old I remember when Andrew Sullivan ran The New Republic and included Betsey McCaughey’s false article about HealthCare Reform (Betsey’s employer, the Manhattan Institute was funded by tobacco companies) and good healthcare legislation was sunk. So when Sully writes

    the liberal holy grail that eluded Johnson and Carter and Clinton, nearly universal health care, has been set into law

    without mentioning Sully’s own effort to keep affordable healthcare out of the lives of the people who drive his taxi and dry-clean his suits, I get a little angry. I guess it’s better to have Sullivan supporting Obama than opposing, but it’s unfortunate that a good President like Obama has a poisonous character like Sullivan cheerleading for him.

    • Not to mention

      A huge supporter of George W. Bush against Gore and on the Iraq War, one of its greatest cheerleaders who wrote an infamous Mission Accomplished editorial for Time comparing Bush to Churchill right after the statue fell, and before Mission Accomplished was declared I might add. I have some respect for his writing ability and his views now, but when the GOP is pro-gay rights (not as big an if as we think in ten-fifteen years if polling trends continue) he might easily blow back with the winds of public opinion. Not our greatest friend, but the article on its own does a great job distilling why the harsh critics are wrong and many of the historic initiatives the President has fought for.

  5. To jconway: give Sullivan credit for manning up and admitting error.

    He has been quite honest and open about his initial support of the war in Iraq. I, along with many others, also believed that we were doing the right thing at that time (cf. Hillary Clinton and others, too). If more of us could admit that we are not perfect in our judgments there would be less mulish antagonism. Now, who the hell do you know who is, was and always will be “right”?

  6. finish what we started, or, Deval Patrick re-election redux

    Here’s the final paragraph:

    If I sound biased, that’s because I am. Biased toward the actual record, not the spin; biased toward a president who has conducted himself with grace and calm under incredible pressure, who has had to manage crises not seen since the Second World War and the Depression, and who as yet has not had a single significant scandal to his name. “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” George Orwell once wrote. What I see in front of my nose is a president whose character, record, and promise remain as grotesquely underappreciated now as they were absurdly hyped in 2008. And I feel confident that sooner rather than later, the American people will come to see his first term from the same calm, sane perspective. And decide to finish what they started.

    Which strikes me as 2010 all over again.

    Next up: “We worked hard four years ago to change the guard. Now it’s time to guard the change.”

    The most tortured part of Sullivan’s bullcrap:

    Yes, Obama has waged a war based on a reading of executive power that many civil libertarians, including myself, oppose. And he has signed into law the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial (even as he pledged never to invoke this tyrannical power himself). But he has done the most important thing of all: excising the cancer of torture from military detention and military justice.

  7. I'm waiting for Obama...

    …to adopt Patrick’s “finished what we started” theme. After all, it worked well once.

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Fri 24 Oct 8:37 PM