The Choice In Front Of Us

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 31 2012 @ 4:06pm

A bit from Chait's case for Obama:

I can understand why somebody who never shared Obama’s goals would vote against his reelection. If you think the tax code already punishes the rich too heavily, that it’s not government’s role to subsidize health insurance for those who can’t obtain it, that the military shouldn’t have to let gays serve openly, and so on, then Obama’s presidency has been a disaster, but you probably didn’t vote for him last time. For anybody who voted for Obama in 2008 and had even the vaguest sense of his platform, the notion that he has fallen short of some plausible performance threshold seems to me unfathomable.

I couldn't agree more. I have no idea what standard people are using to declare Obama's first term a failure. To save us from a Great Depression, rescue the auto industry, re-regulate Wall Street, decimate al Qaeda, kill bin Laden and Qaddafi and provide universal healthcare? That's failure?

Unemployment is lower now than it was when he took office, and moving downward. Next year's IMF-predicted US growth is higher than any other developed country. Compared with austerity-ridden Europe, where unemployment is still climbing, Obama's, Geithner's and Bernanke's leadership has been stellar. The US has never exported as much as now as a percentage of GDP ever. Given the catastrophe Obama walked into, and the froth-flecked obstructionism of his opposition, he's had a remarkably successful, historic first term. His long game also makes much of the progress promised durable only if he gets a second term.

As Jon says, I understand why the Tea Party disagrees with his policies. What I cannot understand is how those who voted for him in 2008 because they wanted real change can explain why they may vote against him now. It makes no sense. He has carried through almost every election promise, and those he hasn't can mostly be attributed to the GOP House. If you voted for Obama in 2008 and don't in 2012, you never really voted for him in 2008. He told us it would take two terms; he predicted obstruction and setbacks; yet he has persisted – and succeeded. But take his second term away? Back to ballooning, rather than shrinking deficits, millions left without access to private health insurance, a guaranteed war against Iran, climate change policy handed over to the oil and coal companies, and massive spending on defense we don't need. Not to mention torture.

And a highlight from Chait's case against Romney:

[T]he reality remains that a vote for Romney is a vote for his party — a party that, by almost universal acclimation, utterly failed when last entrusted with governing. Romney may be brainier, more competent, and more mentally nimble than George W. Bush. But his party has, unbelievably, grown far more extreme in the years since Bush departed. Unbelievable though it may sound to those outside the conservative movement, conservative introspection into the Bush years has yielded the conclusion that the party erred only in its excessive compassion — it permitted too much social spending and, perhaps, cut taxes too much on the poor. Barely any points of contact remain between party doctrine and the consensus views of economists and other experts. The party has almost no capacity to respond to the conditions and problems that actually exist in the world.