Obama, Victim or Villain?
Psychologist Drew Westen’s NY Times op-ed, “What Happened to Obama,” caused a ripple throughout the blogsphere last week, splitting many progressives into two camps prior to the Republican Iowa Caucus. Some took to Twitter and Facebook jumping on the everything-would-be-in-its-right-place-if-the-president-told-better-stories band wagon. Others clung to the idea that Obama is a mere victim of a Tea Party highjack. Both sides of the progressive debate failed at correctly gauging the powers of the presidency.
One thing became clear, it’s futile to pit Obama the “victim” against Obama the “villain.” Sure, at times Obama has been one or the other — sometimes even both– but no one in Washington is that red or blue. Upon being sworn in Obama mistakenly played too much to the other side of the aisle believing that it would reduce political polarity and unify Washington. His hopes that it would help the nation be able to make the necessary quick decisions for what was then the impeding recession, proved to be wishful thinking. He has repeatedly said he’s counting on his “republican colleagues” to make responsible policy decisions, which although a courteous gesture, has proved not to be an effective method of negotiating with political terrorists. Obama has earned his criticism.
In regards to fiscal policy Obama has acted like Marty McFly, frightened of Biff, unsure if he should open the car door. Even so, it doesn’t fully mean the positive accomplishments of his administration should be ignored. It would be commendable if he stood up, publicly decried his adversaries, and grabbed the reigns. Obama is reasonable in knowing that you don’t fight fire with fire, but water. unfortunately, this fire may be in the forest, not the kitchen. The question, which only history will be able to answer, is whether Obama’s legacy is going to be remembered as a Hoover or FDR presidency. Will he find the appropriate methods to pull Biff out of the car and knock him on his ass?
As the “arc of history bends” (the MLK reference Westen poorly attempted to thread through his piece.) Lets not forget the positive accomplishments of the last few years, such as: credit card reform. ( Typically, when people overdraft it’s usually a surprise. If you reduce the surprise immediate results go unnoticed by most. That’s why the uninformed masses preferred the cash in hand ruse like the measly $300 dollar checks the Bush Administration handed out.) The Obama Administration ended the media “blackout” on war casualties, removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research, expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children, reengaged in multilateral and bilateral talks — as well as diplomacy — through out much of the world, initiated policy to cover birth-control services, ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental regulations and reports, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, launched Recovery.gov, ended the stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date, cut the missile defense budget by 1.4 billion, increased funding for Pell grants and student loans, passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, eliminated the wasteful and religiously motivated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and expanded COBRA health coverage for the nation’s unemployed from 9 months to 15 months.
In the long run many of these policies will save paycheck to paycheck households hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Some victories go unnoticed as much of society fails to recognize when catastrophe is averted. In those same eyes the only victories granted to government are when catastrophes played out are then cleaned up nicely. If we killed Godzilla as a baby it would have been a shitty film.
With that said, Washington has grown more and more polarized; the idiots have gotten louder. Many Democrats may unfortunately start to utilize Tea Party tactics. Why? Because they work in our broken system. It is at this moment that we need the president to put on his best Samuel L. Jackson face and say, “enough is enough.” No it’s not a call for him to be “the angry black man,” it’s what FDR did. It has been a difficult few years for our nation, and although things are bad, they’ve been much worse. And no matter how bad they’ve been, We’ve always pulled through. I’m not ready to write Obama off, or the future of our country, but I think a change of political strategy is in order. For that, criticism of his folly is in order.