Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Four more years

Wow. It's been months (literally) since I touched this blog.

The main reason might be because my schlub persona has taken a huge hit recently. In September, I talked a beautiful, intelligent, funny girl to be my wife. I have officially gone from schlub to hub.

But I still like keeping an eye on the old blog. It's still a good place to sound off. It's still a good place to post my articles. (Like, say, this one today about Mrs. Gross and my trip to New Orleans. Or this other one about election night party venues.) And while I have tried to restrain myself from venting my various political frustrations (like everyone else on the interwebs) I feel that today, November 6, might be time for an exception.

This morning, I cast my vote for Barack Obama.

I think he has had the most successful presidency of any man to hold the office in my lifetime.

Recently, New York magazine's Jonathan Chait penned an ode to President Obama's largely underrated tenure, which I would encourage all my readers to take a look at.

But I think an even better argument for Obama's reelection would simply be to read Michael Grunwald's new book, The New New Deal. It is far and away the best argument for why Obama's greatest achievement (alongside health care, in my opinion) is the stimulus, which was a roaring success. The good it did economically, the good it continues to do in areas like green energy and education, and how the GOP worked tirelessly to sabotage it before the thing had even been signed into law are reason enough to reelect him.

Of course, given the fact that President Obama is decidedly less hip (and less of a sure thing) than he was four years ago, I thought it would be worth looking at my own hopes and expectations back then when I wrote this endorsement. Some of my support for Obama had to do with the issues. Some of it had to do with my disappointment with John McCain and hatred of Sarah Palin.

But I think I got one thing very right that I put at the tail end of the post:

"There's one more thing to add to this: I think that the mess that has been created in the last eight years will in all likelihood outlive an Obama administration. It will take America a long time to emerge from the mire we've been cast in. And I think that Obama -- despite all his gifts -- will have to donate much of his first term to putting out the fires of George Bush and Dick Cheney. As promising a man as Obama is, he will inevitably disappoint. (No one could live up to the hopes of his supporters.) The road will not be straight or smooth. What we will not get is a messiah."

Unfortunately, I think the damage of George W. Bush was worse than even I feared as of the writing of that. And, yes, Obama disappointed those who were expecting magic. But in 2008 I merely wanted to get power away from the GOP, which I felt had become so reckless that they could not be trusted. I was not expecting President Obama to be nearly as productive as he turned out to be. Truth be told I believe his accomplishments were so much grander than I felt I had any right to expect.

The four most important planks of his presidency have been:

1) The stimulus. Seriously, read the Grunwald book. The stimulus was the most ambitious piece of legislation since the new deal. It averted a depression. It changed our energy sector forever. If Barack Obama did nothing else with his presidency, he did that. I'm grateful to him for it.

2) TARP. It was a politically poisonous thing for President Obama to support. Yet it was the other thing (aside from the stimulus) that saved our economy. It also enabled Detroit to stay alive, via the auto bailouts. This saved a million jobs or more. I really hope the people of Ohio remember this today.

3) The affordable care act. He slayed one of the Democratic Party's white whales. Health care reform had been a dream that we have always wanted. And in January 2009, I thought the economic collapse took the possibility of reform down with it. I am glad that President Obama proved me wrong. (And for those who say that President Obama does not know how to deal with congress, I'd say: Who else has passed a behemoth like the ACA? No one since LBJ.)

4) Foreign policy. Iraq is behind us. Osama bin Laden is dead. (I never thought that was going to happen.) Libya was freed from a dictator, without getting involved in a quagmire. Thank god.

And this is not even mentioning the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, Race To The Top (actually part of the stimulus), the Dodd Frank financial reform, his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court -- and on and on. President Obama's failures (and there have been several - on environmental and immigration legislation, the high unemployment rate and his failure to restructure the housing and mortgage markets) seem paltry (or at least forgivable) standing next to this long record of success. Given the fact that all this was done in the midst of unprecedented GOP obstructionism is yet another point in the President's favor.

I'm prouder today of my support of President Obama than I was in 2008. Four more years.