Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Case for Obama

With Jon Huntsman now out of the presidential campaign, chances are very high that I vote for President Obama in November.  Even though I don't think a President Romney would implement policies too far from the political center (see this post for my reasons), the Republicans have done little to merit more influence in national government.  I thought Huntsman was the only interesting Republican candidate.  I was disappointed in his campaign but hope to see him in the 2016 race if the opportunity arises.

Via Ezra Klein this morning, I see that Andrew Sullivan has a thoughtful column laying out the case for President Obama's re-election.  It discusses policies but it also discusses tactics:
And what have we seen? A recurring pattern. To use the terms Obama first employed in his inaugural address: the president begins by extending a hand to his opponents; when they respond by raising a fist, he demonstrates that they are the source of the problem; then, finally, he moves to his preferred position of moderate liberalism and fights for it without being effectively tarred as an ideologue or a divider. This kind of strategy takes time. And it means there are long stretches when Obama seems incapable of defending himself, or willing to let others to define him, or simply weak. I remember those stretches during the campaign against Hillary Clinton. I also remember whose strategy won out in the end.

This is where the left is truly deluded. By misunderstanding Obama’s strategy and temperament and persistence, by grandstanding on one issue after another, by projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution, they have failed to notice that from the very beginning, Obama was playing a long game. He did this with his own party over health-care reform. He has done it with the Republicans over the debt. He has done it with the Israeli government over stopping the settlements on the West Bank—and with the Iranian regime, by not playing into their hands during the Green Revolution, even as they gunned innocents down in the streets. Nothing in his first term—including the complicated multiyear rollout of universal health care—can be understood if you do not realize that Obama was always planning for eight years, not four. And if he is reelected, he will have won a battle more important than 2008: for it will be a mandate for an eight-year shift away from the excesses of inequality, overreach abroad, and reckless deficit spending of the last three decades. It will recapitalize him to entrench what he has done already and make it irreversible.

I recommend the whole thing.  For my own views on President Obama's re-election chances, see this post from August 2011.  I am less sympathetic to the "long view" that Sullivan is using to tie together Obama's actions in his first term, but that's the thing about long views -- it takes time to prove them right or wrong.


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Anonymous said...

Obama policies have borrowed heavily from Republican proposals. Obama has Republicans running the Fed and Treasury. The policies SHOULD be liked by old guard Mainstream Republicans who have not shifted to the far right.

Most of the presidency fight is over who controls the appointments and who gets to hand out favors to their political backers. The bankers have figured it out and they are the top 10 donors to both candidates. They WILL get their favors from a president of either party. The handouts to the second tier are more controversial.

jonny bakho