It cracked me up today to see how Byron Tau and his buddies at GOPolitico pulled any negative extracts they could find from this article. Funny how they left out this bit:
“Obama didn’t remake Washington. But his first two years stand as one of the most successful legislative periods in modern history. Among other achievements, he has saved the economy from depression, passed universal health care, and reformed Wall Street.”
Tuesday: The President will deliver his State of the Union Address at 9:00 PM EST.
Following the President’s State of the Union address, he will begin a five-state, three-day swing across the country.
Wednesday: PBO will begin his trip with an event in the Cedar Rapids area, followed by an event in the Phoenix area. He will then travel to Las Vegas where he will spend the night.
Thursday: PBO will hold events in the Las Vegas area and the Denver area before traveling to Detroit that evening where he will spend the night.
Friday: PBO will hold an event in the Detroit area before returning to Washington.
Jon Taplin (TPM): Barack Obama learned a political trick from Muhammad Ali called Rope a Dope. For you youngsters, this refers to the epic Rumble in the Jungle Heavyweight fight against George Foreman in 1974….
Last summer during the debt ceiling hostage crisis, Obama appeared to be the loser, but yesterday Republicans woke up to the reality that they lost Big Time – that we were going to get $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, with 50% of the cuts coming from the military and none of the cuts from Social Security and Medicare. The Congressional water carriers for the Military Industrial Complex are in a panic.
…. So why aren’t progressives celebrating this morning? Got me … If you had suggested to me last spring that a Republican House would pass a bill cutting $600 billion from the Pentagon budget over ten years, I would have called you crazy. But that is just what happened.
So there is only one election that matters a year from now. And that is that President Obama will be reelected and able to keep his veto threat….
This is an amazing victory and all we have to do to hold on to it is reelect the President.
The Hill: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Tuesday that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package continues to benefit the struggling economy.
…. By CBO’s numbers, the $800 billion stimulus added up to 0.9 million jobs in 2009, 3.3 million jobs in 2010 and 2.6 million jobs in 2011. As the effects of the stimulus wind down, Obama has been pushing Congress to enact a $447 billion jobs bill that includes infrastructure spending and tax cuts.
Steve Benen: Romney’s willingness to lie to voters raises important questions about his integrity, but the question now becomes whether television stations will participate in the lie by airing a spot that’s proven to be deceptive.
Steve Benen: President Obama’s week-long trip to Asia didn’t generate a lot of attention from the domestic media, and based on Walter Russell Mead’s description, that’s a real shame. Americans have every reason to be pleased with the results of the president’s successful efforts:
The cascade of statements, deployments, agreements and announcements from the United States and its regional associates in the last week has to be one of the most unpleasant shocks for China’s leadership – ever …. Rarely has a great power been so provoked and affronted. Rarely have so many red lines been crossed. Rarely has so much face been lost, so fast…. [I]t was as decisive a diplomatic victory as anyone is likely to see. Congratulations should go to President Obama and his national security team.
…. I suspect the number of Americans who’ll vote in 2012 based on foreign policy can meet in a broom closet, but it’s getting tougher for even the harshest White House critics to deny President Obama’s impressive record on foreign policy…..
It’s pretty clear to me that Obama is the chessmaster. Stop looking at this politically – let’s look at policy. Obama has been a master of accomplishing things, even with the Tea Party Terrorists hell bent on shutting down the government and ruining the full faith and credit of the United States.
…. Obama will end two wars, ended DADT, created the CFPA, got $20b from BP in the face of strong opposition, saved Detroit, signed New START, and enacted universal healthcare – the defining goal of the liberal movement.
…. he spearheaded the most successful education initiative since WWII with Race-to-the-Top, ended too big to fail with Dodd-Frank, boosted exports with free-trade agreements, advocated and done more for infrastructure than anybody since Ike, increased technological funding…
… He sacrificed the public option to pass universal health care as a whole. Think of him as Bobby Fischer – he sacrificed the queen to win the greatest game.
… He tried like the Dickens on Guantanomo, but by that time the Tea Party made it seem crazy to build a mosque in NY (cause God forbid the 1st Amendment be observed), and the liberal movement didn’t exactly come out to support him on that. And then finally, the Bush tax cuts – another major piece sacrificed. And in return, he got New START, strengthened the FDA, gave health insurance to 9/11 responders, signed an important Civil Rights legislation for black farmers, and ended DADT.
… And for those who say “then why should Obama have caved?” Did he really cave? He cut the long term deficit (which he’s wanted to do since sitting in the Senate), and has now put Republicans in a position where they need to come to the table or see their core values demolished. It’s either tax cuts or the end of the world’s greatest military. Does anybody really think Republicans won’t deal?….
Which is why there is a ton that moderates can be proud of him for. By putting this nation’s economy on a stronger footing for the long term than it has been since LBJ, he’s taken full control of the center – and is there anything more important in a chess game? He’s made tough decisions on popular programs, faced backlash, but all in all, invested in our long term future.
…. His policies will last, and that’s because they’ve been moderate. But that moderation also means they’ve engendered backlash on both sides. That moderation also means they’re going to be tough to get rid of. And the only thing left for him on the moderate side of the house are immigration reform, and finishing the job on education and infrastructure. Big tasks, no doubt (but tasks I also doubt anybody but Obama can accomplish)….
But overall, he’s already the most accomplished president since FDR – and in only 3 years. And like FDR, his policies will be tough to get rid of. Barack Obama may lose the presidency, but as the Tea Party moves to the right, he has taken the center for the Democrats, and makes his policies that much harder to erase.
Stop thinking about 2012. In 2020, it’ll be obvious – Barack Obama gave Bobby Fischer a run for his money as the greatest of chessmasters.
Andrew Sullivan: …I saw nothing that new in the president’s speech on Israel-Palestine – just a minimal request directed to both sides based on a settlement everyone knows is the only equitable one, and that has been the cornerstone of US policy for a very long time. But the rank hysteria that immediately sprang from Jerusalem and quickly enveloped the far-right-wing-media-industrial-complex, revealed far more plainly than before that the gulf between Israel and the rest of the world is simply vast.
It appears that the maximum Netanyahu would allow in any two state solution are some kind of autonomous bantustans in the West Bank, surrounded by Israeli military and security forces and buffered at the Jordan border with IDF troops … If this is Israel’s bottom line, there will be no peace, and there should be no peace, because of the rank injustice of this non-solution.
….Netanyahu is no longer on the Israeli fringe … there is very solid and wide support in Israel for such a maximalist position, and in America, this is what most of the American Jewish Establishment has fatefully backed.
What strikes me is the visceral and emotional power behind the AIPAC line, displayed in Netanyahu’s contemptuous, disgraceful, desperate public dressing down of the American president in the White House.
Just observe the tone of Netanyahu’s voice, and the Cheney-like determination to impose his will on the world, regardless of anyone else, and certainly without the slightest concern for his ally’s wider foreign policy and security needs … Has Netanyahu ever asked, one wonders, what he could actually do to help Obama, president of Israel’s oldest, and strongest ally in an era of enormous social and political change?
…Netanyahu’s current position means that the US is supposed to sacrifice its broader goals of reconciliation with an emergent democratic Arab world ..he wants the US to clasp itself to Israel’s total distrust of every Arab state and population in an era where it is vital for the US to do exactly the opposite.
And it is absurd not to notice Obama’s even-handedness. It’s clear he won’t legitimize Hamas until Hamas legitimizes itself by acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and dropping its virulent, violent anti-Semitism … Like any US president, he is committed to Israel’s security and is, indeed, vital to it. But all he asks is a good faith attempt by the Israelis to acknowledge that their future state has to be based on the 1967 lines with landswaps. Indefensible? Says who?….
And no one seems to appreciate Obama’s political courage in all this. Obama seems to understand that an equitable two-state solution is a key crucible for the change he is seeking with respect to the Muslim world … With each month in office, he has pursued this, through humiliation after humiliation from the Israelis, who are openly trying to lobby the press, media, political parties and Congress to isolate this president and destroy his vision for peace and the historic and generational potential his presidency still promises. To achieve this, he has to face down the apocalyptic Christianist right, the entire FNC-RNC media machine, a sizable chunk of his party’s financial base, and the US Congress. And yet on he pushes – civilly, rationally, patiently.
This really is a titanic struggle between fear and hope…..
Matthew Norman (The UK Independent): He is not the Messiah, but he deserves to sleep easy in his bed, and leave the 3am angst to malevolent midgets like Donald Trump who will never trouble him again
…Obama is said to be a strong player in the tight-aggressive style, which means that he doesn’t play a lot of hands or bluff much; but that when the potential return justifies the risk, he isn’t scared to push all his chips in … This is what he did in Abbottabad…
He bet the lot – his presidency, re-election chances, and place in history … had it gone wrong, Obama would by now have been measured up for the Jimmy Carter One Term Memorial Shroud…
It did not go wrong, and so he finally became the President of the United States of America, rather than President of That Chunk Of America That Doesn’t Regard A Black Man In The Oval Office As The Cleaner Or An Imposter.
… Obama did more than quell the screechings of the wingnuts, chat-show rabble-rousers, the Birthers and those we should term the Placentas (the After-Birthers who have now progressed to post-certificate conspiracy theories to question his legitimacy). He reminded the world why it fell in love with him in the first place.
…People have criticised him for being “professorial” as well as arrogant. They will do so no longer. He pondered for months, studied the research, weighed up the evidence, and reached the right conclusion. This is one cool, tough prof, and the lesson he has taught by example won’t quickly be unlearnt. In asymmetric warfare against a stateless enemy, invading sovereign states and slaughtering civilians is not the way to go. You don’t punish the guilty by killing the innocent. You do so by killing the guilty.
….Let no one hear attempts to share Obama’s credit with Dubya without revulsion. He failed pitifully in this, as in almost every thing else … Obama hasn’t honoured on every promise, nor will. He is not the Messiah, although if the Kool Aid truck has redelivered at last, make mine an octuple. For tempering vengeance with mercy, by refusing to reckon countless civilian lives a price worth paying to safeguard himself, hedeserves to sleep easy in his bed, and leave all the sweaty 3am angst to Donald Trump and the other malevolent midgets who will never trouble him again.
Frank Schaeffer: The “disappointed” left says president Obama sold out. The racist-laced Medicaid-mugging, billionaire-codling right staggers under the weight of terminal “birther” mythology … Meanwhile president Obama continues to bide his time and looks down the road to the post-2012 reality when his patience with an impatient country, his thoughtfulness in the context of a sound-bite-entertain-ourselves-to-death era of short attention spans and historical amnesia will be vindicated.
…President Obama has met the vile far right (and religious right lynch mob) and also met the disappointment of the shrill impatient left with a calm smile and good humor … he has also played chicken with each new crisis and – invariably – pulled last moment hair raising victory from what critics said would be defeat…
….Before he’d served a year president Obama lost the support of the easily distracted (bitter?) left of the Left and also became the target for the white hot rage of the hate-filled right of the Right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds are sticking with our president.
….The disappointment on the left has apparently led some folks to concoct an alternate reality in which – in a mirror image of the loony embittered far right… no matter what president Obama does they dismiss it….
For instance here’s how blogger media personality and professional Obama-hater Glenn Greenwald describes president Obama:
“[Obama will] pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma and defend some financially inconsequential culture war positions: that’s how he will signal to the base that he’s still on their side. But the direction will be the same as the GOP desires and, most importantly, how the most powerful economic factions demand: not because he can’t figure out how to change that dynamic, but because that’s what benefits him and thus what he wants.”
Think about Greenwald’s claim that what president Obama really wants is the same thing that the Republican leaders in congress want. He dismisses president Obama’s defense of stem cell research, a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, gays’ right to serve in the military et al as “inconsequential culture war positions.” Parkinson’s disease suffers waiting for a cure, women with unwanted pregnancies and gay men and women in the military might disagree that the costly stand the president has taken is inconsequential.
…Maybe there are some on the left who (besides selling anti-Obama screeds) suffer from some sort of psychological problem of denial and are unable to deal with the reality of what America has become and actually is: A place where progressive ideas are routinely crushed beneath the weight of the corporate state and entrenched bigotry. But THAT reality is where president Obama must function.
…We Americans are very lucky people. A sane and compassionate president is in charge. Over an 8 year period he will change American history for the better. Only president Obama’s dimwitted and/or hate-filled opponents are unlucky: they are betting against a political genius who also happens to be a very good human being.
Rick Ungar (Forbes): …What the speech (last week) really did was reinforce what I continue to believe is this president’s most valuable asset – character. It is a trait of Barack Obama’s that is too often forgotten by progressives and conservatives alike … he has shown, time and again, that his decisions reflect a willingness to do what he believes is right while taking the political hits that come with courageous decisions.
This reality was never brought into sharper focus than last December when Obama elected to suffer the slings and arrows fired at him by his own supporters by swallowing hard and agreeing to the extension of the Bush tax credits.
Anyone who truly understood what was at issue in that fight – and the incredibly difficult choices available to the President – understands that Obama chose to pay the political price in order to ensure that millions of Americans who are out of work would continue to get their unemployment benefits. He was willing to take the hit from those who are supposed to be his friends so that he could protect the already suffering middle class from having to pay for the President’s political safety in the guise of the tax increases that were threatened for those who could least afford them.
That took character.
I was angry with progressives for their willingness to put someone else’s money where their mouth is .… it’s awfully easy to demand that the President stay true to his progressive roots and go to the mats with the Republicans as you sip a fine glass of wine with your friends inside a cozy bistro. Meanwhile, as you enjoy the conversation and drinks, you don’t even notice that poor fellow outside the bar who is offering to shovel driveways to make a few bucks so he can put a cheap dinner on the table for his children. He’s the one who lost his job and, if progressives had their way, would have been cut off from the only financial lifeline he had – all so that the liberals could feel more righteous in their willingness to battle the GOP using the snow shoveler’s money – not their own.
That is not progressive behavior – that is elitist behavior.
The wine drinkers were not the ones on the President’s mind last December. It was the cold guy on the outside who was the focus of Obama’s attention – and that is precisely as it should have been.
…I think the majority of Americans will agree with the President’s approach to our financial problems. Why? Because they know that character and clarity counts in a President … (last week’s) speech revealed that Obama has more than enough of both.
Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker): One of the mysteries of the Obama Presidency has been Obama’s inability – or disinclination, I’m not sure which – to give sustained emotional sustenance to a certain slice of his supporters. I don’t mean the “Democratic base” … I don’t mean the disillusioned left, which is easily, almost perpetually disillusioned because it has such an ample supply of illusions.
(A lot of lefties, notwithstanding their scorn for “the system”, seem to have an implicit naive faith in the workability of the mechanisms of American governance. Hence their readiness to blame the disappointments of the Administration’s first two years mainly on Obama’s alleged moral or character failings – cowardice, spinelessness, insincerity, duplicity, what have you.)
Mainly, I guess, the slice I’m talking about is of people like me: liberals who continue to respect and admire Obama; who fully appreciate the disaster he inherited and the horrendous difficulty of enacting a coherent agenda even when your own party “controls” both Houses of Congress; who think his substantive record is pretty good under the circumstances; who dislike some of the distasteful compromises he has made but aren’t sure we wouldn’t have done the same in his shoes … but who are puzzled that our eloquent, writerly President seems to have done so little to educate the public about his own vision and to contrast it with that of the Republican right – which is to say, the Republicans.
I don’t know how many people watched Obama’s speech (on Wednesday) but those who did, and who share my general outlook, got a dose of the emotional (and intellectual) nourishment we’ve been craving.
…Obama spoke powerful words, and spoke them with real feeling. As we all know by now, our President doesn’t “do” anger … (on Wednesday), though, he did sternness; he did dignified exasperation; best of all, he did argument.
…By the time the President got to his own four-step proposal, which calls for higher taxes on the rich … the Republican alternative was a smoking ruin. Given the position his own reluctance, until now, to stake out a clear ideological divide had left him in, Obama succeeded in constructing a reasonably solid fortification for the fiscal battles to come. Even Paul Krugman was pleased. Me, too.