For a variety of reasons, I haven't written a formal endorsement of Obama this year. Partly it's been a crazy few weeks – moving, sickness, blackout – but also because I feel I made my case in two essays this year – defending Obama's record in January as far better than the current consensus, and forseeing last month a real possibility of profound and necessary change in America over the next four years. From my January piece:
Sure, Obama cannot regain the extraordinary promise of 2008. We’ve already elected the nation’s first black president and replaced a tongue-tied dauphin with a man of peerless eloquence. And he has certainly failed to end Washington’s brutal ideological polarization, as he pledged to do. But most Americans in polls rightly see him as less culpable for this impasse than the GOP. Obama has steadfastly refrained from waging the culture war, while the right has accused him of a "war against religion." He has offered to cut entitlements (and has already cut Medicare), while the Republicans have refused to raise a single dollar of net revenue from anyone. Even the most austerity-driven government in Europe, the British Tories, are to the left of that.
And it is this Republican intransigence—from the 2009 declaration by Rush Limbaugh that he wants Obama “to fail” to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s admission that his primary objective is denying Obama a second term—that has been truly responsible for the deadlock. And the only way out of that deadlock is an electoral rout of the GOP, since the language of victory and defeat seems to be the only thing it understands.
If I sound biased, that’s because I am. Biased toward the actual record, not the spin; biased toward a president who has conducted himself with grace and calm under incredible pressure, who has had to manage crises not seen since the Second World War and the Depression, and who as yet has not had a single significant scandal to his name.
"To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle," George Orwell once wrote. What I see in front of my nose is a president whose character, record, and promise remain as grotesquely under-appreciated now as they were absurdly hyped in 2008. And I feel confident that sooner rather than later, the American people will come to see his first term from the same calm, sane perspective.
And decide to finish what they started.
(Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a campaign rally on the campus of the College of Southern Nevada on November 1, 2012. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)