Another Failed Presidency?

March 9th, 2010

By Tom Carter

Many on the right, not all of them Republicans, hope that Barack Obama will be a failed President.  Some are motivated by ideology — to them, any political position to the left of Attila the Hun is seen as a socialist conspiracy to destroy America.  Others are purely partisan, convinced that any Republican is better than any Democrat, and they’re willing to wreak havoc to get Republicans into office.  And a few — very few, but too many — are racists who go to bed at night and wake up in the morning appalled that a black family lives in the White House.

The game isn’t over yet, but at the end of the first quarter it’s beginning to look like those who want the President to fail have cause to celebrate.  It’s boring to see criticism of President Obama and dire predictions about him coming from Fox News, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh, conservative blogs, and other sources whose opinions are totally predictable.  But organs of the left are also beginning to take him to task or, at least, to take notice of the dark clouds over Washington.  That’s more interesting.

The Note at ABC News has a long, interesting list of media comments about the current difficulties of President Obama and the Democrats.  It does a good job of showing the amount of doubt and criticism now in the media.

What’s worse, the President and the Democrats are beginning to lose some of their most faithful supporters at The New York Times.  From a column by Frank Rich:

“They are waiting for us to act,” Obama said on Wednesday of the American people. “They are waiting for us to lead.” Actually, they have given up waiting. Some 80 percent of the country believes that “nothing can be accomplished” in Washington, according to an Ipsos/McClatchy poll conducted a week ago. The percentage is just as high among Democrats, many of whom admire the president but have a sinking sense of disillusionment about his ability to exercise power. …

The more serious debate about Obama is being conducted by neutral or sympathetic observers. There are many hypotheses. In Newsweek, Jon Meacham has written about an “inspiration gap.” He sees the professorial president as “sometimes seeming to be running the Brookings Institution, not the country.” In The New Yorker, Ken Auletta has raised the perils of Obama’s overexposure in our fractionalized media. (As if to prove the point, the president was scheduled to appear on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” to celebrate its 1,000th episode this weekend.) In the Beltway, the hottest conversations center on the competence of Obama’s team. Washington Post columnists are now dueling over whether Rahm Emanuel is an underutilized genius whose political savvy the president has foolishly ignored — or a bull in the capital china shop who should be replaced before he brings Obama down.

But the buck stops with the president, not his chief of staff. …

This time Obama doesn’t have a year to arrive at his finest hour. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the clock runs out on Nov. 2.

Bob Herbert, another reliable Obama supporter, realizes, as does Rich, that Obama doesn’t understand that what he wants and what the majority of the country wants are different things.  From his column in The New York Times yesterday:

The Obama administration and Democrats in general are in trouble because they are not urgently and effectively addressing the issue that most Americans want them to: the frightening economic insecurity that has put a chokehold on millions of American families. …

But while the nation is desperate for jobs, jobs, jobs, the Democrats have spent most of the Obama era chanting health care, health care, health care. …

But the fact that the Republicans are pathetic and destructive is no reason for the Democrats to shirk their obligation to fight powerfully and relentlessly for the economic well-being of all Americans. There are now six people in the employment market for every available job. There is a staggering backlog of discouraged workers who would show up tomorrow if there were a job to be had.

The many millions of new jobs needed to make a real dent in the employment crisis are not going to materialize by themselves. Mr. Obama and the Democrats don’t seem to understand that.

History has yet to make a final judgment on the presidency of George W. Bush.  The only real question, however, is how bad he was.  His bumbling and inept leadership left the U.S. with a staggering debt, contributed to a severe recession, seriously eroded America’s position as a political and economic leader in the world, and perhaps worst of all left us stuck firmly to two tarbabies in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Republicans and conservatives, however partisan and ideological they may be, can’t possibly look at the Bush 43 legacy and say to themselves, “Yep, that’s the way I wanted it to be.”  I would ask them now if they want to see another failed presidency and all the damage it would cause for the country.  True patriots would respond in the negative.

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9 Responses to “Another Failed Presidency?”

  1. Brianna |

    “I would ask them now if they want to see another failed presidency and all the damage it would cause for the country.”

    Tom, there can be one legitimate reason to want a “failed” presidency. It is if you think that a president’s failure would be better for the country than his success. When you think someone’s about to drive the country off a political cliff, the treason would be in cooperating with him, not fighting him.

  2. Tom |

    Well, treason is a very strong word that I wouldn’t use in this context. I think it’s possible to be opposed to the President’s agenda and still respect him and support him as the leader of the country. After all, he’s the only president we have, and he’ll be in the job for at least three more years.

    How is it possible to oppose his agenda and still support him as President? I think the Republicans in Congress could be less obstructionist and more willing to work with the majority to get things done. The Democrats, for their part, could be a lot more open to cooperation with and input from the minority. That could mean, for example, that we might be able to get reasonable health care reform without the kind of blood feud that has developed between the parties.

    Citizens on the left and right could be more positive, too. Just like George Bush wasn’t a fascist or a nazi, Barack Obama isn’t a crypto-Muslim or a socialist with a nefarious secret agenda. We should be able to disagree with politicians and each other without anomie.

  3. Brianna |

    I agree, bad word choice. I should have said “mistake” or “error” instead. But just as I think it’s an error to say, “my country, right or wrong,” so I also think it’s an error to say, “my president, right or wrong.”

    I don’t think Obama understands the full implications of what he’s saying and doing. I think that he really thinks it’s all for the public good. I don’t think he’s evil. I think he honestly believes that once this health care thing has been rammed down our throats that a year from now, everybody will be singing his praises. And to be fair, that’s more or less what happened with Bush over the Iraq surge, so I guess it’s theoretically possible (though I’m not holding my breath). But the fact remains that whether you’re opposing someone because they’re evil or merely because they’re wrong, whether you’re dealing with a terrorist or just a kid who doesn’t know he’s not supposed to get the chunk of sodium in his chemistry set wet, your response has to be the same either way because the potential consequences are the same either way.

    I think government-run health care is wrong on every level, from the moral to the political to the practical. I think it will open the door to all sorts of government controls and that it will run down our health care system until nothing is left of it but lines, ineptitude, rationing and bribes. I think that the record on socialist health care systems is crystal clear that they start out with everyone jumping for joy because health care is “free”, quickly develop problems, quickly develop budget overruns and cost rises, suffer more bureaucratic fixes, get worse, and as the country gets less free and consequently poorer, degenerate into, to pick a NOT random example, Armenia.

    And if you doubt what I am saying at all, all you have to do is look to Europe, which is so busy proving my points for me. They have been financing their social systems and government programs with debt, and now the bill is starting to come due. Greece is teetering on the brink, and I believe it is only the first domino in the chain to fall. I will be writing about Europe (hopefully) this weekend, but let’s just say that its starting to get bad. Japan is no better. Canada and Australia haven’t gotten too bad yet, to my knowledge, but Canada’s lines are famous, Canadians can always run to the US for an MRI if they really have to, and I believe Australia is freer than Europe and Canada and Japan, which would help it be better there.

    My point is, I cannot in good conscience hope for this guy to succeed at what he is doing right now, which is to ram a bad bill through the Senate and the House via a procedure that should NEVER be used for this type of sweeping social legislation. Whether he’s evil incarnate or just a kid who doesn’t know his chemistry set, I have to work against him in this and I have to hope he fails. Not because he is evil, but because he is wrong and because I think that what he is trying to do now will permanently damage America. To “be more positive,” to “reach across the aisle,” to “be more open to cooperation,” would be to say that I do not believe any of these things, that I do not think Obama’s bill is fundamentally bad, that I think it has merit and is fixable.

    I do not believe any of these things. Therefore, at least with respect to his stance on health care, I cannot support the President in this and I must hope he fails.

  4. Tom |

    I agree with most of what you’re saying. However, I’d point out that there’s a big difference between a kid causing a small fire in his basement and a terrorist blowing up a building. The kid is teachable and sorry he did it; the terrorist is neither.

    I agree, strongly, that government-run health care is not right for America. Like the majority of Americans, according to the polls, I agree with many of the specific major points in the currently proposed health care reform legislation. However, again with the majority, I disagree with the massive, complex, hugely expensive package they’re buried in. I don’t doubt that the most liberal of our fellow citizens would like to see completely nationalized health care, but I think they’re wrong. If you take him at his word, Obama also doesn’t want it.

    Health care is the best example of what we’re talking about. I don’t want the Obama-backed legislation to be passed. I want the President’s effort to get that legislation passed to fail. I also want cap-and-trade to fail (it’s mostly dead anyway), even though I want to see more reasonable, easily-implemented policies that would discourage oil consumption and make us less reliant on foreign sources.

    Despite disagreeing on specific policy issues, I still don’t want Obama to be a “failed” president like Jimmy Carter was. I want him to be the respected leader of the U.S., both at home and abroad. That benefits all of us, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with him on specific issues. He may be in the process of proving that he’s not up to the job in this respect, and if that’s still the case in 2012 we can replace him, if that’s what the majority wants.

    What we’re discussing here is perfectly reasonable. The ignorant drivel we hear coming out of extremist groups, and those who share their views, is not.

  5. larry |

    Failure that brings respect and confidence might have a place in the human scheme of things but not in this case. This man that is president is on the fast track to proving himself not adequate for his job.
    He is still campaigning because thats all he knows. I can’t believe that people are willing to just sit and watch this train wreck happen.
    People this tragedy is for real. The real problem is that many are clinging to the notion that it can’t happen here.

  6. Brianna |

    “I’d point out that there’s a big difference between a kid causing a small fire in his basement and a terrorist blowing up a building. The kid is teachable and sorry he did it; the terrorist is neither.”

    As I’ve pointed out before, when the potential consequences are the same, then the response to stop those potential consequences must be the same, regardless of the intentions of the person who caused the problem. We might be nicer to the person who made the mistake out of innocence, but our moves to stop him cannot be any less vehemently made simply because of his ignorance.

  7. the 1461 |

    You have an interesting take on the current administration. I like the style and the view points. I will be back – and maybe we can find a way to work with one another.

  8. Slappy Walker |

    I know I have a simplistic view of things, but I’m just feeling like all of government has let me down. I wake up and go to work and pay my taxes, but I feel like the people we have elected just aren’t getting ANYTHING done. I can understand that we live in a two party system and there will always be disagreements, but it seems like one party could say the sky is blue and the other would immediately launch an offensive to say the sky is really red.

    I’m not sure if the President alone can be to blame for the standstill we seem to see every day. I’m sure he has his part to blame, but he’s far from being alone. Maybe compromise doesn’t come across as a victory, but it’s the only true way that anything will ever get done.

    I don’t know what the answer is, and for all I know maybe there isn’t an answer.I’m far from being a political expert, so I’m sure you could all tear me to shreds on my point of view. I’m just calling it as I see it.

  9. Tom |

    Slappy, I see it the same way you do, and I think a whole lot of people see it this way, too. The feeling that politicians and governments have let us down cuts across all lines — liberal, conservative, Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, independent — and is a truly non-partisan reaction.

    If the Republicans rout the Democrats in November, I think it will be mainly because of this feeling that government has let us down and can’t get anything done. Should the Republicans gain a majority Congress, which could happen, they’ll make a mistake if they assume that they have a mandate to do everything opposite from what the Democrats have tried to do. What really will have happened is we just threw the old rascals out to see if some new rascals could do a better job.

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