You can agree or disagree with his agenda, but it’s pretty clear Barack Obama is having a huge impact on America.
Kevin Drum has fun pointing out all the things our “bored, exhausted, and disengaged president” (his words) has done since the election: h
November 10: Surprised everyone by announcing his support for strong net neutrality.
November 11: Concluded a climate deal with China that was not only important in its own right, but has since been widely credited with jumpstarting progress at the Lima talks last week.
November 20: Issued an executive order protecting millions of undocumented workers from the threat of deportation.
November 26: Signed off on an important new EPA rule significantly limiting ozone emissions.
December 15: Took a quiet victory lap as Western financial sanctions considerably sharpened the pain of Vladimir Putin’s imploding economy.
December 16: Got nearly everything he wanted during the lame duck congressional session, and more. Democrats confirmed all important pending nominees, and then got Republican consent to several dozen lesser ones as well.
December 17: Announced a historic renormalization of relations with Cuba.
Matt Yglesias also had fun pointing out all the huge policy changes that have been going on since 2009, click over if you want the litany, but I think it’s telling that he has to put in an aside to say:
That’s to say nothing of smaller measures from the 111th Congress like a food safety bill, a child nutrition bill, a Children’s Health Insurance expansion, and a public lands bill the Sierra Club hailed as “a historic day for conservation.”
It can be hard to separate our evaluations of presidents from what we think about their policies. I’m not a stranger to this. I have a lot of respect for Jimmy Carter and if only because of how his presidency impacted my life. His liberalizing of immigration laws for professionals in science and industry helped one the parents of one of my friends from college come to my country. His call for more women to enter the field of science and technology was part of why my mother became an engineer. I still think the Camp David Peace Accords were a good thing, even if the Middle East is very screwed up right now.
But Jimmy Carter wasn’t a great president. He spent most of his four years in office micromanaging everything and quarreling with his own party in Congress, resulting in not much of anything getting done legislation wise. Oh yeah and there was that whole Iran thing.
Which brings us back to Obama. You can feel free to agree or disagree with the policies of Barack Obama, but the whole argument that he’s some sort of incompetent blunderer—which dominates much of the discussion of political pundits—is frankly pretty silly.
Maybe you think that the American healthcare system was perfect back in 2008, ummm okay, but it’s pretty clear that Obamacare is changing American healthcare forever, by both expanding access and reducing costs. Maybe you think that Sonia Sotomayor is a dunce whose accomplishments are based on her having the good luck to be born into a working class Puerto Rican American family in the Bronx. Again okay, but it’s pretty clear Obama’s appointments to the bench are very important. Maybe you think the Russian invasion of Ukraine should have been met with all-out war or Iran should have been bombed in 2010 to prevent them from developing an atomic bomb in 2011 (which they didn’t). To each his or her own, but I really don’t know what to tell you if you think these things.
Love him or hate him, it’s pretty clear that Obama is incredibly important in terms of many policies that affect American life. Claiming he’s bad at being president? Well that just plain silly.
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