Monday, February 27, 2012

Obama's progressive accomplishments as part of a pragmatic long game

For quite a while now I've been saying that if you want to understand President Obama, you have to look at the long game. Its possible that some of his accomplishments will still be coming to fruition long after he's actually left office. In the end, the historians of the future might have the best vantage point.

That's not how we've typically viewed politics in the modern era. With the 24/7 news cycle, too much political punditry gets caught up in the clash of the moment and so that's where we tend to focus. So when we talk about President Obama's accomplishments, we naturally tend to look at the past...things like the stimulus bill, the current implementation of ACA, Lilly Ledbetter, ending DADT, etc. Those are all major "wins" for this administration. But what happens if we look forward a bit at what is developing? In other words, what might President Obama's accomplishments look like in the future?

As I wrote about yesterday, its not only health care pundits - but now corporate insiders - who are saying that ACA will end for-profit health insurance as a business model.

We can only guess what renewable energy alternatives might look like when the world's largest consumer of energy - the US military - goes green.

All of the talk about civil liberties violations as part of the "war on terror" will likely be quieted if the administration is successful in negotiations with the Taliban to end the indefinite war.

The nature of the work and the compensation provided to Wall Street financiers is currently being altered as a result of both the challenges in the economy and the passage of Dodd-Frank.

While the administration hasn't been able to get immigration reform or the Dream Act through an obstructionist Congress, they have basically begun to implement many of those things through executive order.

Finally, there is all the work currently underway in the Department of Justice on police brutality, fair sentencing, mortgage fraud, medicare fraud and stopping things like draconian immigration and voter ID laws.

I would submit to you that these efforts combined form the blueprint for the most progressive president in my lifetime (perhaps in the country's history).

When President Obama analyzes his own set of accomplishments, these are the kinds of things he keeps his eye on. How do we know that? Michelle told us.

Here's the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we're all sweating it, when we're worried that the bill won't pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we're playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow — it doesn't happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.


  1. I'll be much encouraged if Michele Leonhart is gracefully moved out of her job after the election.

  2. Manuel, do you have a nominee in mind for DEA Administrator? Also, just curious if it would *dis*courage you were she to remain in the position, considering she'll have had five years in the job at the time of the 2012 election and the controversies (AIUI) involve zealous enforcement rather than subversion of policies not set by the DEA directly.

  3. Ever since the Affordable Healthcare Act, which I think was created as nothing more than a stepping-stone to universal healthcare, I have argued that Obama plays a long game and everyone looks at a single play.

    I do think his intention is to not to change eight years, but to change America and I don't think his political friends or enemies generally see this.

    1. Danny,

      You should read the link I included in the paragraph about how "ACA will end for-profit health insurance as a business model."

      Here it is again:


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