Saturday, February 9, 2013

The impact of a presidency

Every now and then I feel like I get a bit of a glimpse into how people in the future will view the Presidency of Barack Obama. We tend to get caught up in the daily hysteria created by partisans and pundits that is likely to be mostly forgotten (ie, skeet truthers). And as the lunacy on the right intensifies, we can find ourselves chasing after every manner of outrage.

Recently BooMan brought us two stories with real import that I didn't see mentioned anywhere else on progressive blogs. But they signaled the kind of major impact that shape a presidency - both in what is actually done and what is not done.

The first one was about how President Obama rejected - during the election - the advice of most of his national security apparatus to intervene in Syria.
Obama not only stood up to the CIA and the top brass at the Pentagon, he did it without the cover of Clinton or Panetta. He kept us out of a war the rest of the Establishment wanted to fight; he did it without arousing disloyalty, and he did it in the heat of a presidential campaign.
The second one is about the fact that the President is about to sign off on a plan that will reduce our nuclear arsenal by a third.
President Obama is poised to sign off on a new internal review of U.S. nuclear weapons strategy that would reduce the arsenal by one-third, resulting in billions in savings to the Pentagon and Energy Department.
So do you see how this works? As most of the political world is consumed with talk about the use of drones and Republican obstruction about sequester, the really big news is that he avoided entanglement in yet another war and is about to save billions of dollars by getting rid of a major portion of our nuclear warheads.

When the story is told in the future about this presidency, what do you think will really matter?

He's already:
  • Saved us from another great depression
  • Rescued the auto industry
  • Passed universal health care
  • Reformed Wall Street
  • Repealed DADT
  • Negotiated new automobile efficiency standards
And by the end of his second term he will have:
  • Passed immigration reform
  • Passed gun reform
  • Ended 3 Bush wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on al Qaeda)
And that doesn't even take into consideration the things that he initiated that are still in the works...everything from turning DoD green to reigning in the CIA to avoiding war with Iran to his upcoming efforts to further address climate change and travel to Israel/Palestine this spring to try to reignite the peace process. Oh, and one more thing...he's demonstrated to future candidates for the office how to do an end-around our democracy-crushing campaign finance system.

Have all these achievements been perfect or exactly what he wanted? No. But the ball has been moved significantly down the field in the progressive direction - despite the mess he was handed by the last president, the obstruction from Republicans, and the lack of support he's sometimes received from progressives along the way.

When you take a look at the big picture by putting all this together, its clear that we are living in one of the most momentous presidencies in our history.


  1. While I am determined to enjoy these next four years, I must confess I dread the day he is done. I can only hope we are able to elect a person with continued vision of what we could be.

  2. I'm not real sure why you're writing that his trip to Israel is about trying to reignite the peace process when the White House said that is not their goal.

    I was delighted by BooMan's article yesterday. My other takeaway from that article was just how much of a war monger Clinton still is. She would be a very bad president.

    1. I'm not real sure why you're writing that his trip to Israel is about trying to reignite the peace process when the White House said that is not their goal.

      Heaven forbid she should have greater ambitions for the world, and not endlessly parrot the company line all the time. Unless it turns out the administration is lying about their intentions, and they do have peace plan designs, in which case you'll be there after the fact to gush about them anyway. Life is easy when all you have to do is nod your head to whatever they're saying moment to moment.

      My other takeaway from that article was just how much of a war monger Clinton still is. She would be a very bad president.

      In the unlikely event Hillary is president in 2017, what conceivable course of events would have to transpire where there'd be a five year war of aggressive nation building and counterterror where 1600 American lives were lost? The war record isn't a theoretical anymore, real world events did happen, and when it came down to it, they were shoulder-to-shoulder together when it came to the disappointing turn of events in Afghanistan. That seems somehow relevant. Neither person seems to have much claim to nobility or pacifism.

  3. The Bigger Question? why isn't this being trumpeted by the so-called Progressive Left..

    1. The progressive left is only now appreciating the stimulus that was enacted in 2009. Give them another 4-10 for his foreign policy.

    2. Most of it's personal (or racial, or both). Because they don't like him, or respect him, or want to be indebted to him. They don't want to regard him as one of this country's latter-day founding fathers and successful crisis presidents like Lincoln and FDR (who's company he's on par to achieve), and they don't want others to revere him either. His success threatens their inadequacy and studied posture of ineffectiveness.

      Some of it's professional. They don't want his former employees and acolytes and organizers to serve as the next generation of political gatekeepers and counselors and wisemen. Or they don't want to be punished for betting on the wrong horse once upon a time.

      Some of it's philosophical and emotional. Some people do have a genuine cynicism about the imperial nature of America and it's economic and military and moral standing in the world, and demand a course of isolationism and restraint and a revolution of values. For some people, nobody can be a legitimate president, let alone a respectable one.

      And some of it is sort of a repulsion to religious devotion and sycophancy. There's a lot of religious/redeemer/salvation mythology to the Obama presidency. I'm not gonna lie, I grimaced at bk up there "fearing for her country" without the Leader there to guide us through. How is that any different from the teabaggers? Or the Bush voters who thought he was chosen by God? If you only believe in America because of one guy...meh. So be it.

  4. Oh, SP, it's been clear to me that 'we are living in one of the most momentous presidencies in [MY] history' even without my putting all these pieces together! For me it has been 'something in the air' that convinced me of this. In a way, though I'm disgusted with his media coverage, I'm (contrarily)somewhat glad that they are not trumpeting his ongoing accomplishments, leaving him to quietly move the ball along instead of kicking it down the road a la Romney.

    And Tien, despite the White House saying re-igniting peace talks is not their goal for this trip, I'm of the opinion that PBO has intended to re-ignite the Israeli-Palestinian peace process if the opportunity is remotely present. After all, IMO, he sees this as the right thing to do for all parties.

  5. I agree with most of your post, except for him ending the war on Al Qaida by his second term. While I agree with you that he is in the process of laying the groundwork for ending the perpetual war, this is a monumental task that will have to be carried out passed the end of his second term in my opinion.