Obama’s Record

Kevin Drum:

Here’s the good news: this record of progressive accomplishment officially makes Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. And here’s the bad news: this shoddy collection of centrist, watered down, corporatist sellout legislation was all it took to make Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. Take your pick.

In any case, I think this probably marks the end of Obama’s major legislative agenda. I don’t give Congress much chance of passing a climate bill, and after the midterms the Democratic majority will either be gone or significantly reduced, making large-scale legislation just about impossible.

Still, if you’re a liberal, this is the best you’ve had it for a very long time. Whether this is cause for cheer or cause for discouragement is, I suspect, less a reflection on Obama than it is on America writ large.

8 thoughts on “Obama’s Record

  1. I have no idea by what standard Drum is judging Obama. Is he successful because he has moved the Overton Window so far right? Or because he has enshrined in law some of the most mediocre, pro-corporate regimes imaginable?

    The only standard by which a Democratic president should be judged as successful is the one by which they have improved the lives of ordinary Americans. Passing a whole passel of pro-corporate legislation that lets the apex predators continue in their practices with only minor restraints is not a standard by which a Democrat can claim success.

    Who fucking cares?

  2. I dunno. I think I could make a decent case that Richard Nixon had more liberal accomplishments than Obama has had. But then I don’t consider Obama as having any “big” progressive accomplishments. Just because there are laws called Healthcare Reform and Financial Regulation doesn’t mean that’s what they do. HCR was essentially Bob Dole’s plan, that’s a progressive victory? And then there are all the affirmatively awful things he’s done re civil liberties, secrecy, war, etc.

  3. I see on re-reading that Drum says “Democratic” instead of liberal. Still, I’m unconvinced Obama has any large progressive victories, so I don’t see how he even outperforms Carter and Clinton. Clinton, for example, had his large tax increase on the wealthy. That was a huge deal and something that Obama hasn’t even tried to do.

  4. I made more money under Clinton than I will under Obama. I’m talking dollar amount, not inflation-adjusted. Unemployment was low, as I remember it. I could even plan on retiring, instead of cashing out 401K’s to live on.

  5. Now that I think about it, I still dared to go to protests, feeling safe that the police wouldn’t Mace me or teargas me or taze me, or just simply beat the fuck out of me. Hmm.

  6. Drum is right only if he’s excluding Bill Clinton from the list of Democratic presidents. In the last 40 years, there have only been 3 Democratic presidents – Clinton, by far the best president in the last 40 years of any stripe; Obama, the sorry DINO we have now; and Carter, the president I admire the most.

  7. BDBlue is correct. The 1993 OBRA is the most progressive thing that’s happened in 40 years. And it lost Clinton congress, so that’s why no one among our current crop of political cowards will likely ever do it again.

    Funny how that less progressive president is being sent out on the campaign trail these days to save Dem butts in November, whereas every Dem Obama has campaigned for in the past year has lost (NJ and VA Governor, and Martha Coakley in Mass.) I live in CO-4, where Betsy Markey has been named one of the most vulnerable freshman congressperson. I know whom she’ll invite out here in a pinch, and who she won’t.

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