Monthly Archives: November 2012
If you are a liberal or if you are rooting for the Democrats, last night was a very, very, very big night. and, oh, yeah, this happened. President Barack Obama, yes, will go down in history as our nation’s first African-American president. But he will also go down in history as the most successful democratic presidential candidate since FDR. President Clinton got re-elected too, I know, but only Barack Obama got re-elected with not just big Electoral College margins, but also with majority wins in the popular vote, twice.
The guy who predicted this outcome, almost exactly, is Nate Silver, of course, who writes the political statistics blog, 538 at “the new york times.” For accurately predicting, it appears, the exact outcome of the race, and I mean down to every single state. We’ll see about Florida. Nate was, of course, pilloried, pilloried on the right and by right-leaning beltway media types, including politico.com, for having the audacity to print what his poll averages told him was about to happen. But Nate was right, the polls were right, even without Florida being decided, we now know that but also with majority wins in the popular vote, twice. the guy who predicted this outcome, almost exactly, is Nate Silver, of course, who writes the political statistics blog, 538 at “the new york times.” For accurately predicting, it appears, the exact outcome of the race, and I mean down to every single state. We’ll see about Florida. Nate was, of course, pilloried, pilloried on the right and by right-leaning beltway media types, including politico.com, for having the audacity to print what his poll averages told him was about to happen. But Nate was right, the polls were right, even without Florida being decided, we now know that President Obama won in pretty much exactly the way the state-by-state polls said he was going to win. He won with more than 300 electoral votes. It was not magic, it was just math. Math that was completely invisible to the political right.
Ohio really did go to president Obama last night.
And he really did win.
And he really was born in Hawaii.
And he really is legitimately President of the United States…again.
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month.
And the congressional research service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy.
And the polls were not screwed to oversample democrats.
And nate silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate silver was doing math.
And climate change is real.
And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes.
And evolution is a thing.
And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us.
And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns. and taxes have not gone up. and the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.
And the moon landing was real.
And FEMA is not building concentration camps.
And you and election observers are not taking over texas.
And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.
Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for democrats for very obvious reasons, but it was also, possibly, a good night for this country as a whole. Because in this country, we have a two- party system in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides, both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. and by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. and the if the republican party and the conservative movement and the conservative media is stuck a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate about competing feasible ideas about real problems.
Last night the republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was coming. and we saw them in real-time, in real humiliating time, not believe it, even as it was happening to them. And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again, and that will be a painful process for them, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. you guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up. There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there. If the republican party and the conservative movement and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit, congratulations,
Way To Go Rachel…RLHSR.
I decided to support Barack Obama pretty early in the Democratic primary, around spring of 2007. But unlike so many of his supporters, I never experienced a kind of emotional response to his candidacy. I never felt his election would change everything about American politics or government, that it would lead us out of the darkness. Nothing Obama did or said ever made me well up with tears.
Possibly for that same reason, I have never felt even a bit of the crushing sense of disappointment that at various times has enveloped so many Obama voters. I supported Obama because I judged him to have a keen analytical mind, grasping both the possibilities and the limits of activist government, and possessed of excellent communicative talents. I thought he would nudge government policy in an incrementally better direction. I consider his presidency an overwhelming success.
I can understand why somebody who never shared Obama’s goals would vote against his reelection. If you think the tax code already punishes the rich too heavily, that it’s not government’s role to subsidize health insurance for those who can’t obtain it, that the military shouldn’t have to let gays serve openly, and so on, then Obama’s presidency has been a disaster, but you probably didn’t vote for him last time. For anybody who voted for Obama in 2008 and had even the vaguest sense of his platform, the notion that he has fallen short of some plausible performance threshold seems to me unfathomable.
Obama’s résumé of accomplishments is broad and deep, running the gamut from economic to social to foreign policy. The general thrust of his reforms, especially in economic policy, has been a combination of politically radical and ideologically moderate. The combination has confused liberals into thinking of Obamaism as a series of sad half-measures, and conservatives to deem it socialism, but the truth is neither. Obama’s agenda has generally hewed to the consensus of mainstream economists and policy experts. What makes the agenda radical is that, historically, vast realms of policy had been shaped by special interests for their own benefit. Plans to rationalize those things, to write laws that make sense, molder on think-tank shelves for years, even generations. They are often boring. But then Obama, in a frenetic burst of activity, made many of them happen all at once.
It is noteworthy that four of the best decisions that Obama made during his presidency ran against the advice of much of his own administration. Numerous Democrats in Congress and the White House urged him to throw in the towel on health-care reform, but he was one of very few voices in his administration determined to see it through. Many of his own advisers, both economists steeped in free-market models and advisers anxious about a bailout-weary public, argued against his decision to extend credit to, and restructure, the auto industry. On Libya, Obama’s staff presented him with options either to posture ineffectually or do nothing; he alone forced them to draw up an option that would prevent a massacre. And Obama overruled some cautious advisers and decided to kill Osama bin Laden.
The latter three decisions are all highly popular now, but all of them carried the risk of inflicting a mortal political wound, like Bill Clinton’s health-care failure and Jimmy Carter’s attempted raid into Iran. (George W. Bush, presented with a similar option, did not strike bin Laden.) In making these calls, Obama displayed judgment and nerve.
A year ago, I wrote about the pervasive disillusionment felt by Obama’s supporters. It is a sentiment that has shadowed every Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt, and even Roosevelt provoked long bouts of agony and disillusionment among his supporters. All were seen by many Democrats at the time as failures, weaklings, or unprincipled deal-makers. It’s true that all of them, including Obama, have made terrible errors. What this tells us, though, is that we need some realistic baseline against which to measure them.
Obama can boast a record of accomplishment that bests any president since Roosevelt, and has fewer demerits on his record than any of them, including Roosevelt. The only president that comes close in gross positive accomplishment is Lyndon Johnson, whose successes were overwhelmed by his failures to such a degree that he abandoned his reelection campaign. The immediacy of the political moment can — and usually does — blind us. (In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the wide and even bipartisan sentiment prevailed that George W. Bush was exactly the right sort of person we would want to have as president at that moment.)
What can be said without equivocation is that Obama has proven himself morally, intellectually, temperamentally, and strategically. In my lifetime, or my parents’, he is easily the best president. On his own terms, and not merely as a contrast to an unacceptable alternative, he overwhelmingly deserves reelection.
The Struggle Continues…RLHSR.