Why Obama Should Be Reelected


My Newsweek cover story is now up. A teaser:

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, [the left] 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 wondered when I wrote this what the reaction would tell me. Just browsing at a few of the right-wing blogs, I see that they have attacked it without actually, you know, reading it. Althouse is a classic example:

I don't even want to read it. It just seems like red meat for Obama fans. And what a cliché! Republicans are stupid.

Half the article is devoted to liberals and Democrats! But it would be too much for her to actually read it. Hinderaker:

The time when liberals could seriously try to peddle the lie that conservatives are stupid is long, long gone.

Again: half the essay grapples with how liberals have misread Obama as well. But if you are Power Line, you don't have to read the actual piece. Then he reveals exactly how dumb he is and how right I am:

We who are unhappy that unemployment has increased on Obama’s watch, that over-regulation has stymied economic growth, that our children now owe a $15 trillion debt that we can’t pay–hey, we’re just dumb! We obviously aren’t smart enough to understand how devastating our economy, unemploying millions of Americans and burdening our children with trillions of dollars in debt is really a great idea.

As I note in the piece, the worst month for job losses in this recession happened to be Bush's last month. At that point, we were losing something like 750,000 jobs a month, with an annualized drop in GDP approaching 9 percent! Within a year of that, the US had gone back into job creation. Since then, we've added 2.4 million jobs or so – almost all in the private sector. As for debt, the notion that Obama gave us $15 trillion of it is something most Republicans seem now to believe. This is the truth:

Under Bush, new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion. Under Obama’s budgets both past and projected, he will have added $1.4 trillion in two terms. Under Bush and the GOP, nondefense discretionary spending grew by twice as much as under Obama. Again: imagine Bush had been a Democrat and Obama a Republican. You could easily make the case that Obama has been far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor—except, of course, that Obama has had to govern under the worst recession since the 1930s, and Bush, after the 2001 downturn, governed in a period of moderate growth. It takes work to increase the debt in times of growth, as Bush did. It takes much more work to constrain the debt in the deep recession Bush bequeathed Obama.

Then Breitbart's outfit says I'm the editor of the Daily Beast! Yes, that's Big Journalism. None of these critics shows any sign of having read the actual article. Is it too much to ask that they rip me apart after thinking rather than before?

It's not a book, for Pete's sake. It's less than 3,000 words, and has strong criticism of the left in it. Maybe the headline, which I didn't write, set them off. So a simple challenge: show me where I'm wrong and we can debate this. Or are you only synapses firing into the partisan night?