02 February, 2010

Change We Can Believe In

Some readers of this blog have a near-pathological hatred of Obama.  Others have fallen out of love.  Myself, I realize he's a consummate politician, with all the failings that entails.  But I still think of him as a net positive.  And here's a few reasons why:

He can walk into the lion's den and savage the lions so badly they start regretting the cameras.

Under his command, we're finally seeing some terrorist ass kicked - depite all this "palling around with terrorists" bullshit the Cons so love to spew.Post Options

And here's actual change we can believe in:
It's easy to lose sight of these developments, especially when we're caught up in the day-to-day fights over various political disputes, but the federal government has changed in some pretty dramatic ways over the last year. When we talk about the differences between Obama/Biden and Bush/Cheney, we tend to think about economic, national security, legal, and social policy.

But John Judis reminds us of regulatory policy, which on a day-to-day level, is just as important as the other policy areas.
[T]here is one extremely consequential area where Obama has done just about everything a liberal could ask for -- but done it so quietly that almost no one, including most liberals, has noticed. Obama's three Republican predecessors were all committed to weakening or even destroying the country's regulatory apparatus: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the other agencies that are supposed to protect workers and consumers by regulating business practices.
Now Obama is seeking to rebuild these battered institutions. In doing so, he isn't simply improving the effectiveness of various government offices or making scattered progress on a few issues; he is resuscitating an entire philosophy of government with roots in the Progressive era of the early twentieth century. Taken as a whole, Obama's revival of these agencies is arguably the most significant accomplishment of his first year in office. [...]
Republican presidents didn't just undermine scientific administration by making poor appointments; they also slashed or held down the regulatory agencies' budgets, forcing them to cut personnel. This was a particular problem in the all-important area of enforcement: If regulatory agencies can't conduct inspections and enforce rules, it doesn't matter how tough those rules are.... Now Obama is reversing these trends.
Judis added that Obama's regulatory appointments "could not be more different" from those we've seen in recent years, and "the flow of expertise into the federal bureaucracy over the past year has been reminiscent of what took place at the start of the New Deal."
There's far more than just those few items, such as the few I meant to highlight awhile back and was too knee-deep in stupidity to get to: granting Temporary Protected Status to Haitians, providing the kind of leadership that inspires the DOJ to go after discrimination rather than engaging wholesale in it, giving a shout-out to the atheists... along with plenty else, large and small. 

Is he perfect?  Absolutely not.  Is he often wrong?  Of course.  Does he play really fucking annoying political games?  Definitely.  And is he the great progressive president everybody was hoping for?  No, and he never was. 

But for all that, I consider him a net positive.  Especially when I consider what the alternative would've been.


Chris Rhetts said...

I really don't understand how thoughtful progressives could be anything but delighted with Obama. He came to Washington with a clear mandate and he has done his level best to follow through on it. Along the way, he has encountered nothing but obstructionism - much of it from his own party. Liberals have been disappointed by his efforts to reach out to conservatives. This hasn't worked so far because conservatives are scared to death of how their idiotic base would react to any comprimise with a man they are trying to paint as a radical leftist. Yeah, it sucks, but Obama's approach is really the only rational way out of the ideological gridlock which is currently paralysing government.

Cujo359 said...

Chris, that's not obstructionism, that's Obama putting his arm behind his back and saying, "Twist my arm." He's a disciple of the Chicago School of economics, which is the one that says that no regulation is good regulation. His choice of advisers proves that.

All that "obstructionism" on health care resulted in the bill that was the deal he made with drug and insurance companies back in the Spring. He's been working behind the scenes to get just this result, and when he got it Martha Coakley paid for it.

That's another thing I don't like Obama. Nothing's ever his fault, and others always pay for the mistakes that aren't his fault. Ask Chris Dodd.

In the area of foreign policy, the Bush Administration made plenty of claims about killing terrorists. I lost count of how many times we "killed" the "Number Three Al Qaeda leader." We're doing the same thing now, with largely the same result. Lots of bodies, few changes.

Obama's trip to the Republican dinner was an effort to remind progressives how the other guys suck more than Democrats do. He accomplished that, but making fools of Republicans is easy. They do it to themselves constantly. Making things happen is not, and on that basis he's failed utterly, largely because he doesn't want to succeed in the way that progressives define success.

I think thoughtful progressives don't support Obama because we know we aren't getting anything but more of the same.

Chris Rhetts said...

Cujo - it probably won't come as a shock to you that I disagree with just about everything you say on this. Dispite that, I do enjoy reading your blog. In some few cases however I think you've constructed an overall opinion based on several flawed assumptions. Since I don't think the comment section here on Dana's blog is a suitable forum to hash this out, I'd love to trade thoughts with you some place where we have a little more elbow room. Assuming you are game, my mail address is crhetts@gmail.com - your blog or mine?

Cujo359 said...

I'd say if you have questions or issues with something I write, the comments near it would be the best place. The comments are always open - they are just automatically put into moderation if the article is more than a certain number of days old.

I only have three simple rules:

- no pointless insults,
- no spam
- don't pretend to be someone you're not

since I've never seen you do any of those things, I'm sure you'll do just fine.