Obama’s Long Game

Newsweek has drawn the ire of conservatives yet again for a headline on its cover that reads, “Why Are Obama’s Critics So Dumb?” Inside of the current issue is an article by Andrew Sullivan that looks at Obama’s first term in office and pushes back against his critics on the left and right. Sullivan makes Obama out to be a rather centrist president with legislative victories that should please both the left and right. You can check out the article here.

Regarding critics of the right, who Sullivan says have sometimes made Obama out to be some left-wing, radical socialist, Sullivan points out that Obama has not yet ended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and he has cut taxes several times, including the payroll tax. Furthermore, Sullivan points out that the stimulus package passed during Obama’s first few months in office included tax breaks for 95 percent of taxpayers.

Sullivan also addresses the claim by Mitt Romney and others that Obama’s policies have deepened the recession. According to the article, when Obama took office, the U.S. was losing 750,000 jobs a month, and since 2010, the U.S. has added about 2.4 million jobs, and unemployment has dropped about 2 percent.

Regarding the critics on the left, Sullivan says Obama did have legislative victories they should be happy about, including healthcare legislation that, when it fully takes effect, will require everyone to have healthcare coverage, and those that can’t afford it will be given government subsidies. Sullivan does point out, though, that the healthcare bill did not include a public option, which many progressives wanted, but he said in an era where anything in the Senate needs 60 votes to pass, this may be the closest to universal healthcare we  get. Obama’s other main accomplishment Sullivan addresses is a full withdrawal from Iraq, which was one of Obama’s key campaign promises when he announced he was running for president in early 2007.

Sullivan does admit that he is an Obama supporter, but I think the article does give a fair assessment of the president’s first term and addresses criticism of the president from the left and the right. The piece concludes with the idea that Obama thinks in the long term, that he runs a long game, and that he envisions himself accomplishing more if re-elected. But what Sullivan doesn’t point out is that Obama is going to have a harder re-election in 2012 than he did in 2008. His base is starting to wake up and get fired up, but the economy is still in a slump, and that will mar him  heading into re-election. Anyways, the piece is a good read that cuts through the stereotypes and criticism that surround the president and presents him not as a left-wing radical or a leader too timid and weak to stand up to opposition, but rather as  a centrist and pragmatist.

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