In Defense of Obama

Photo: Elizabeth Cromwell (CC)

Paul Krugman has penned a lengthy essay for Rolling Stone on why President Obama is getting a raw deal from virtually everyone, including an opinion that “Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history”:

When it comes to Barack Obama, I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

And I wasn’t wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make even token concessions.

But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn’t deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it’s working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it’s much more effective than you’d think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

I’ll go through those achievements shortly. First, however, let’s take a moment to talk about the current wave of Obama-bashing. All Obama-bashing can be divided into three types. One, a constant of his time in office, is the onslaught from the right, which has never stopped portraying him as an Islamic atheist Marxist Kenyan. Nothing has changed on that front, and nothing will.

There’s a different story on the left, where you now find a significant number of critics decrying Obama..

[continues at Rolling Stone]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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92 Comments on "In Defense of Obama"

  1. Fuck this clown and the entire pathetic circus that passes for “politics” in the land of fat and stupid.
    This fucker is just as much of a lying-ass mass-murdering psychopath as the shrub. The position itself demands it. The next one will be THE SAME.

    • I don’t know, man . . . I think that’s actually a bit optimistic. Have you seen the 2016 contenders? Clinton, Bush, Paul, Perry? Obama at least put on a facade of humanity, but these guys don’t, and like Obama they will only get worse once they’re in office.
      As long as we use primaries to select candidates, the quality of our Presidents will continue to decline.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Oct 10, 2014 at 11:16 am |

        I agree with your fundamental conclusion about the dysfunctional(?) effect of primaries.

        But, loathe as I am to admit this, Bush II was actually a little better, in the sense that he really believed in what he was doing. Obama has no moral compass whatsoever–pure opportunist. At least Shrub came up with a bullsh*t railroaded congressional procedural for the Iraqi intervention; Obama doesn’t seem to have done anything at all to justify the government’s murder of American citizens without trial.

        On a pragmatic level, what is the difference? Theoretically, we can at least say that Bush II at least provides a counter-example that might lead to a more productive set of specific values for a viable political culture (i.e., America is NOT God’s favorite child). All that we can learn from Obama is that you can’t trust anyone.

      • As long as we have a two party system, the quality of our Presidents will continue to decline.

        • Yeah, that’s closely related as well. But again, it’s a result of an electoral system. As long as we have first-past-the-post elections, we will have a two party system.

          • kowalityjesus | Oct 14, 2014 at 3:07 am |

            good lord yes, but who is ever going to give up their gravy train to sponsor runoff elections? It’s about 100 times less feasible than meaningful prison reform. Whadda boondoggle.

      • The whole thing is a scam. It does not matter who is installed as president. The Empire will continue do what it has been doing, you know, chainsaw raping humanity and the planet.
        This is why I am sincerely hoping for a Nugent/Palin ticket in 2016. I figure the more batshit crazy the sooner the shit will fly . . .

  2. $20756863 | Oct 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

    lesser of two evils is still evil.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Oct 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

    if you read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
    you’ll notice that the emperors after the Antonines
    (with the exceptions of Diocletian & Constantine)
    it mattered not who the emperor was
    things rolled on as dictated by the system

    what’s the diff between Obama & Bush?
    not much, mostly superficial differences

    • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm |

      “what’s the diff between Obama & Bush?
      not much, mostly superficial differences”

      On foreign policy, you’re right.

      Domestic policy is a completely different bag of worms. One caused an epic monumental economic crash, the other recovered from it. One sought to destroy the basic safety nets that exist, the other sought to destroy them.

      One has allowed medical marijuana laws to continue with some minor exceptions, the other harshly cut down on them and tried to outlaw them.

      Despite all the “better of two evils” rhetoric they really are quite different parties with different ways of running things.

      • Two wings of the same statist big government bird. Get out of the false left/right paradigm. It’s about freedom/liberty vs statism/government control/tyranny.

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm |

          I love when people claim I’m presenting a two wing paradigm and then present me with several two idea paradigms as an example. As if they were the only ones necessary of considering, or even like someone can’t be both about freedom AND government or anywhere in between.

          • You’re the one coming across as an Obama apologist for some reason. Did you think there wouldn’t be blowback? Or are you taking your cues from foreign policy in the Mid-East?

        • I’d rather not exchange one false dichotomy for another.

      • BuzzCoastin | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm |

        this is the stock answer from those
        still buying the red vs blue team stuff
        same on war, but different at home
        bullshit superficial stuff

        there was no recovery
        except for the too pig to fail
        Obummer persecuted med pot
        worse the W
        Obummer Hellcare makes it a crime to opt out
        and enriches indurence companies, pig pharma & docs

        did you accidentally get here from Raw Story?

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:09 pm |

          Dude I’m in Colorado and I work in California. Don’t tell me who persecuted the med pot industry worse because I’ve lived it.

      • Dingbert | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm |

        In pop politics, there is no sense of time. There is only now, and whatever is happening now is somehow much worse and exactly the same as it was before.

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:07 pm |

          The problem is that we’ve long since lost our grip on the separation of pop politics and politics.

      • “One caused an epic monumental economic crash…”
        I think you need to look up your facts, because Bush may have escalated things but it was Clinton that opened the door.

      • mannyfurious | Oct 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm |

        Different on “social” issues to some extant. No difference in economics. And economics is really the only thing that matters. There is such a thing as “trickle down” economics that work: equal rights given to the “worker” trickle down to everyone else. If people are living comfortable lives and being treated fairly in an economic sense, I can almost guarantee that racism, classism, sexism, and most other forms of prejudice are greatly reduced. Most “-ism” arise because one set of exploited people blame another set of exploited people for their problems instead of blaming the oppressor. That’s the magic trick.

        Egalitarian tribal societies overwhelmingly show almost no prejudice–even toward other, antagonistic tribes (as evidenced by the fact that most tribes are shown to allow members of the antagonistic tribe to join their tribe if they so desire). Prejudice arises when there are “have nots” who blame other haven nots so as to feel better about themselves.

  4. Sarcasmo | Oct 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm |

    Paul Krugman is the shill of the decade for the financial status quo. It is literally his job to jerk off anyone the peasants are pointing their pitchforks at. Can’t fucking standem!

  5. For anyone who loves the fact that the United States of America has a constitution that protects us from all manner of intrusions into our personal lives then you most likely as I do, regard Barack Obama as an utter villain. Even though he promised as a candidate to stop the gargantuan monster that is the NSA, he has not only allowed the illegal actions of that agency to continue but has expanded their scope. He has nearly wrecked this country in so many ways and when the smoke clears I believe history will regard him as far worse than his predecessor.

    • Rick Casey | Oct 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm |

      esp. considering he has a Ph. D. in constitutional law.

      • Shows that our schools are worthless. That guy obviously has no clue about the Constitution or what it means.

    • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:06 pm |

      I’m not saying Obama’s actions with spying are correct, but you realize that he’s follow precedent on everything, right?

      Who’s worse, the one following precedent, or the one who sets it?

      • Precedent is no reason to violate your oath. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:49 pm |

          They do if you’re a Democrat

          • Or a Republican. Wrongs are in the eye of the beholder.

          • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm |

            I’m not arguing FOR Republicans (as if there is a difference in anything but style’). My comment was in context of the thread flow.

          • So?

            Also, I disagree that there are only differences in style, but don’t take that to imply that I’m ever going to vote for any candidate from either party.

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm |

          Which part of his oath did he violate?

          • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm |

            ‘Free speech zones’, no-knock warrants, NSA spying, extra-judicial murder…need more?

          • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm |

            Which one of those is in his oath again?

          • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:32 pm |

            Are you familiar with the Constitution and it’s amendments? You are aware, at least, I assume, that part of his oath is to defend that? With regards to that and specifically the issues I raised, you may be interested to learn about amendments 1, 4, 5, 8 and 10 definitely and probably 6 and 7.

            Of course that is only a short list, based on my short list from above.

          • You forgot that he must defend them only “to the best of [his] Ability.” So any amount of incompetence may excuse ignoring the Constitution. Maybe he is defending it to the best of his ability. Maybe not. It’s impossible to know.
            Oaths are empty rituals. This one is especially meaningless because of that little loophole.

          • misinformation | Oct 10, 2014 at 9:17 pm |

            All the more reason that defending him is pathetic.

          • > Maybe he is defending it to the best of his ability.

            I am incapable of believing that for more than a few seconds.

      • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm |

        Oh, and ‘precedent’? Like murdering USAers without trial, with robots?

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm |

          Those are two different precedents that were set by his predecessors, yes. Three if you count the precedent of using executive action to override Congress, which dates back to JFK.

          • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm |

            Which previous President murdered a USA citizen with a ‘targeted’ drone?

          • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:00 pm |

            Two different precedents. Bush murdered a US citizen and established execution by drone. Separate precedents. If got want to go further back there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that executing a US citizen was established during the Clinton admin, the Reagan admin, the Ford admin, etc.

          • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:43 pm |

            You’re right actually. I forgot about the guy in Yemen, during Bush. Let’s not pretend assassinating US citizens only goes back to recent memory…

            But, since I don’t usually pick through pieces of shit, in order to find the most edible kernel of corn, I’m going to try and stop wasting my time, if that is indeed what is happening. Perhaps you can spell out your point, in your defense of Barrack Obama?

            Amongst the reasons I’m asking is because you seem to be excusing socio, if not psycho-pathic and criminal behavior because, ‘Hey, other people did it first’

      • Michael416 | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm |

        I would say they’re both equally bad. But Obama campaigned on change and on most points failed to follow through. His biggest accomplishment will probably be Obamacare which is, at best, a mixed bag.

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm |

          And Nixon campaigned on ending Vietnam. I think people hold Obama to a higher standard than other politicians because he was a better speaker and hid his lying better. He’s a moderately above average politician who’s held up as worse than his predecessor despite being easily better on a lot of counts.

          • Michael416 | Oct 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm |

            You’re right about Obama being held to a higher standard. But I’m just tired of billions being spent on debt producing wars when a good chunk of it could be going towards other more important issues right now.

          • ‘… because he was a better speaker …’ than ALL others?

            ‘He’s a moderately above average politician …’


      • Does not matter, they are both no fucking good.
        He continues with perpetual war, he does what the financial sector and the military tell him to do. In short, he is a frontman for The Empire; same as the shrub, and same as the next one.

      • Dave Turner | Oct 10, 2014 at 1:51 am |

        The one following it since they have a chance to stop it.

      • $20756863 | Oct 10, 2014 at 2:55 am |

        The one that follows, has no one ever mentioned following people off bridges to you? Plus, one at least sounds intelligent when they speak, cant hear the word nuclear without cringing a bit.

  6. Rick Casey | Oct 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm |

    Gee it only seems like 6 1/2 years ago he was accusing him of “dithering.”

  7. Well he helped the Saudis skate out of the 9/11 victims’ lawsuit, one of his very first acts as president.

    Then he killed a lot of kids with drones.

    Then he illegally bombed Libya and became “Al Qaeda’s Air Force,” in the words of Dennis Kucinich.

    Then he started a covert war in Syria with the worst, scummy regimes on the face of the earth, the ones who behead people regularly for witchcraft and adultery. The ones who arm, fund, train and give poison gas to Al Nusrah and ISIS.

    Then he support NAZIS! Fucking NAZIS in Ukraine and put us on a path to the Apocalypse in a nuclear fireball with Russia.

    In defense of Obama?

    Fuck you Paul Krugman.

  8. Justin Sage | Oct 9, 2014 at 5:50 pm |

    Paul Krugman is desperately trying to see what isn’t there. It could be argued, successfully, that Obama is the worst president America has ever had. If not, he certainly ranks high on a list of failed Commander and Chiefs.

    • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm |

      Yes epic healthcare reforms and recovering from an economic crash in record time clearly marks him as a terrible president.

      • “Reforms” ~Dr. Evil

      • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 7:51 pm |

        ‘Epic healthcare reforms’…here’s some news, Obama didn’t do anything about health care. He mandated insurance with a legislation written by the insurance companies.

        What would really be epic is if he brought effective health care, not just insurance, to the seven countries he’s bombed.

        • ryan cordova | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm |

          I paid $40 for health care when I couldn’t get any.

          Tell me again how worthless it was.

          • misinformation | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:22 pm |

            Aside from refusing to argue points I’m not making (‘tell me how worthless it was’ , for example), I have several questions. Starting with, you paid $40 for health care? What does that mean?

          • Number1Framer | Oct 10, 2014 at 12:02 am |

            One in my household still can’t afford to pay the insurance rates, but are now required by law to pay them. Anything short of universal is a fail in my book. The ACA was when I gave up on Obama and all Democrats. And that’s even considering I was wearing blinders to the drone murders and (back then) arming the ones in Syria we’re now going to war against. All your tax dollars pay for is lining Lockheed, Boeing, Halliburton, etc, etc pockets. If I couldn’t vote 3rd party, I wouldn’t vote at all anymore.

          • $20756863 | Oct 10, 2014 at 3:04 am |

            try living in a state that didn’t expand medicaid.

    • Commander and Chiefs!

    • W., Clinton, and Reagan were worse. Obama’s #4.

    • VaudeVillain | Oct 9, 2014 at 9:36 pm |

      You must not have seen what the GOP did to Powell. He hardly even counts as one of them anymore, even by his own accounts he seems to nod in their direction more out of Stockholm Syndrome than out of any real loyalty.

  9. Dingbert | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm |

    In success and probably consequence (too early for that one), he’ll go down in history somewhere between LBJ and Reagan. Take from that what you will.

  10. Dingbert | Oct 9, 2014 at 8:36 pm |

    Wow, I never realized how emotional and irrational the Disinfo community truly is.
    You guys have become the mainstream.

  11. I see it two ways.

    1) He became president, genuinely wanted to accomplish some positive, progressive things while in office, then, on his first night sleeping in the white house bed he is raised from his slumber by the “real” interests of this country (i.e. 12 powerful men, illuminati, whatever other nonsense/actual thing). They tell him to do it “how they want” or else.

    2) He became president, genuinely wanted to accomplish some positive, progressive things while in office, then, was gradually nudged toward utter corruption like most politicians, particularly presidents.

    At present, either one seems plausible, though I lean more toward number two.

    • 3) Was groomed by The Illuminati to be the cathartic, post Iraq, anti-Bush at a time of profound economic crisis; had a fairytale history written by tptb, once elected: betrayed his naive supporters (who overlooked his Neocon flag lapel pin and talk of al Qaeda) by continuing forever more in the Bush trajectory.

  12. This sounds like a lame PSA, but don’t forget there are elections next month. What happens in Congress affects our daily lives more than what happens in the White House.

  13. trompe l'oiel | Oct 10, 2014 at 11:27 am |

    Since I am a distant relative to every president short of one, stretching all the way back to John Adams and his infamous alien and sedition act, my sympathies go out to Mr. President. I’ve had a number of dreams with the man, serving me beer in some White House speak easy, seeing him exit a UFO, smoking cigarettes with him and dumping out bottles of water into peoples AC units. We’ve had some good times in dream land him and I. But that doesn’t redeem him for his actions on Earth. Do I feel like he is an abysmal and evil person? No. Do I feel like he had strings since before he was elected? Absolutely. Have those strings been pulled to irreconcilable lengths and in degenerate directions? But of course. Do I figure he has been extorted, bribed, and threatened by elite interests like any and every president in the history of the US? Most Likely.

    Was he a better alternative than Romney?

    Two words: Magical Underpants.

    We need to stop focusing on the letterhead, and focus, instead, on the stock it is written.

  14. Jonas Planck | Oct 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm |

    If a president isn’t hated by millions of people, then he isn’t doing his job properly.

    “and what job is that?” You didn’t ask? The job of being a hate-sink. The job of being the guy that everybody blames for everything.

  15. Democrats abandon unpopular Obama on eve of midterm elections

    summary: Obama has thrown every non-.001% constituency under the bus, the people have noticed, and Democrats running for office are running away from him.

    It didn’t have to be like that, he entered office with more political capital than any incoming President had in generations. He never used it to help anyone but his real friends. (Obamacare was designed as a tax-funded bailout for Big Pharma/Health/Insurance – aka Wall Street)

    While Krugman’s a nominal “progressive”, he’s got enough money and prestige that Obama’s fuckups never affected him.

  16. There is no defense for the man…. Does Krugman think we are all retards? Obama has done nothing but fail… And so has the Congress and the Senate! Wake up people! We need to kick EVERYONE out and start all over….We need to change how big corporations influence our government, and we need to get corruption and the police state under control!

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