Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do Voters Owe Obama an Apology?

As he assesses his performance in 2009, Barack Obama could claim he has been the victim of a bait-and-switch by Americans who voted him into office a year ago. Elected on a platform of Change, he was immediately asked to become the first responder to an economy falling apart.

He is not copping that plea, but the case should be made over the yowling from the do-nothing Right.

In a year-end interview, while defending himself on the health care imbroglio, the President notes that "the most important thing we did this year was to ensure that the financial system did not collapse," almost an aside to the reality that, after campaigning two years on one set of premises, he was thrust into a situation no one foresaw.

Forgotten in his falling approval ratings now are the weeks of "one president at a time," when Americans were so anxious to be rid of George W. Bush that Obama had to keep reminding them that he was not yet in the Oval Office.

Also lost in the mists of the pre-recession past are candidate Hillary Clinton's argument about being "ready on Day One," a test that Barack Obama passed with flying colors.

Ironically, conservative Andrew Sullivan is one of few along the political spectrum making the case that "2009 has been an extraordinarily successful year for Obama," citing his successes in reversing the Unitary Executive, bailing out the banks (however imperfectly) and passing a stimulus to shift the economy from "a tailspin to stabilization and some prospect of job growth next year."

Sullivan's conclusion: "Yes, we have. And yes, we still are the ones we've been waiting for--if we still care enough to swallow purism and pride and show up for the less emotionally satisfying grind of real, practical, incremental reform."

That may be too optimistic, but after months of floundering in the health care morass, this White House is showing signs of reorienting to do "a very hard pivot" and push for a new jobs bill in the State of the Union, and even approval ratings seem to be bottoming out like the unemployment rates.

This season of renewal may be the right time to start drowning out the catcalls and remember that Hope can spring eternal.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

I don't owe him an apology. I played no part in giving him a job he clearly can't handle, but I do think that it's a good lesson for us all. Let's vote for someone competent next time, someone who actually likes America, and maybe even someone who's run something other than a college classroom.