Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What more could a progressive ask of a president?

I've never claimed that President Obama is a progressive. I think the term is outdated and confusing. The President has always been clear - he's more interested in what works than he is in partisanship or labels. That's what makes him a pragmatist.

And yet, when it comes to issues that progressives have traditionally cared about - I'm wondering what more any president could do to address them. Let's take a look at what has been happening lately.

In Congress these days, you have the President and Democrats fighting for an extension of unemployment benefits, raising the minimum wage, and passing comprehensive immigration reform (including a pathway to citizenship). On the docket is the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), which would make it illegal to discriminate against people who are LGBT. Did you catch VP Biden's speech about that at the Human Rights Campaign Gala this week? If not, check it out.

Meanwhile, over the last few days we've heard more about this administration's continuing work on federal prison reform and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

Last night we learned that President Obama will call for reform of the metadata program operated by NSA. As I wrote, that is one powerful Aikido move he just pulled.

Today, we have the two women he appointed to the Supreme Court joining forces with Justice Ruth Ginsburg to battle attempts to deny women access to contraceptives. No, we won't know the outcome of that case for awhile, but this President has had two openings on the court to fill. And he chose Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Bravo!!!

Speaking of women, check out this article in Politico (yes, Politico) about President Obama's "power trio" - National Security Adviser Susan Rice, counsel Kathy Ruemmler and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco. What do you know - he didn't even need "binders."

But I suspect that the most profound progressive change President Obama is implementing was articulated in response to a ridiculously stupid question from Jonathan Karl at today's press briefing in the Hague. The President used the opportunity to lay out a foreign policy based on global partnership rather than U.S. military dominance.
The truth of the matter is that the world has always been messy. What the United States has been consistently able to do, and we continue to be able to do, is to mobilize the international community around a set of principles and norms, and where our own self defense may not be involved, we may not act militarily - that doesn't mean we don't steadily push against those forces that would violate those principles and ideals that we care about...
The point is that there are always going to be bad things that happen around the world. And the United States - as the most powerful nation in the world - understandably is looked to for solutions to those problems. What we have to make sure we're doing is that we are putting all elements of our power behind finding solutions, working with our international partners, standing up for those principles and ideals in a clear way. There are going to be moments where military action is appropriate. There are going to be times when that is not in the national security interests of the United States - or some of our partners. But that doesn't mean we're not going to continue to make the effort or speak clearly about what we think is right and wrong. And that's what we've done.
Unless you espouse the isolationist views of libertarians, I cannot imagine a more progressive statement about the role of the United States in foreign affairs. I might also add that these comments were made at the third summit on nuclear security initiated by this President.

And so, whether you want to give him the label or not, a simple review of the news over this past week has me wondering what more a progressive could ask of a president.


  1. I read on twitter that he called Russia a 'regional power'. Made my day. He's the best.

  2. I've lost several "progressive" friends defending Obama. Many on the left pout and whine about his failures when they forget somehow that it takes a friendly congress for a president to get anything accomplished. I'm not saying Obama is perfect, he has made plenty of mistakes, but when the alternative could have been McCain or Romney we are living in the best of most possible worlds.

    And yes, I laughed when he called Russia a regional power.

  3. President Obama is a great man and fantastic President and I'm proud of what he's accomplished in the face of unmitigated evil.