Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rolling Stone makes the case

Rolling Stone's analysis of Obama's first two years is really quite good.  Tim Dickinson starts by noting the (largely liberal) case against the president, and then proceeds to describe what he's actually done in office.  The record is quite striking -- the piece accurately describes his first two years as two of the most productive years of any presidency since maybe Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt.  Obama is characterized as a very pragmatic but energetic deal-maker, one who was willing to get his hands dirty and work with Congress and disappoint some constituencies for the sake of delivering achievable and important goals.  In many ways, it sounds like the presidency we expected from Hillary Clinton rather than the inspiring idealist Obama was portrayed to be in 2008.

My one beef with the article is its conclusion.  It seeks to address the question: if Obama has accomplished so much, why is he relatively unpopular, and why are Democrats getting their asses kicked?  Dickinson suggests that the problem is salesmanship -- Democrats should be crowing about their accomplishments rather than running from them, they didn't explain health reform well, etc.  The truth, of course, is that first, legislative achievements don't affect approval ratings very much.  Second, something that does affect approval ratings quite a bit is the economy, and that's been pretty anemic lately.  If we had 3.5% growth right now, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Definitely worth the read.

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