Friday, July 23, 2010

Idolizing Obama

The refrain goes that Obama is failing to get credit despite having "one of the greatest Congressional achievement records of any modern Executive," and I'm just not sure how this claim keeps getting made.

Bush got Congress to give him authority to start two wars, he got two massive tax cuts, he got massive financial deregulation, he got torture and domestic spying legalized, he got permission to detain persons without cause or time limits, he got Medicare Part D, and he got countless war spending bills passed without hesitation.

Obama got a stimulus bill that nobody can really prove was terribly effective, he got "health care reform" that didn't include a public option, drug reimportation or Medicare drug price negotiation, and now he has financial reform that is appearing to be a bit questionable in its scope.

Granted the things that Bush got passed seem pretty destructive in retrospect, but let’s not confuse action with outcome; they were things he and his supporters wanted done, and getting Congress to approve them counts as "Congressional achievement" on a pretty massive scale.

Not only did he achieve the things he wanted to achieve, but he got his bills through Congress one whole hell of a lot more easily that Obama has managed to do, and he did it both when his party was in the majority and when it was not.

When Bush wanted a bill passed it went to Congress and it got passed, largely unchanged, with the features he deemed important, and in fairly short time. Democrats never blocked any of his bills, and they seldom even attempted to significantly change any of them.

Obama wants a bill and he concedes part of it before it even goes to Congress, where it gets fought over for up to a year, and then passes in a watered down manner with concessions to the minority party added on top of the ones that were made before the process even began.

And yet we continue with this mantra of Obama having "one of the greatest Congressional achievement records of any modern Executive," as if what Bush did was not reform, or somehow “didn’t count.”

Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it isn't reform. The word consists of "re" as in do again or change, and "form" as in shape or substance. Whether you are making them bigger or smaller, you are changing the shape and substance. When you change the rules, it is reform. If you add to the rules it is reform, and when you diminish the rules it is reform. If it turns out well it is reform, and if it turns out badly it is reform.

How is it possible that Obama has such a record for “Congressional achievement” when Congress itself has such a poor reputation for achievement that only 11% of America approves of it? How is Obama such a terrific leader when the body he is leading is overwhelmingly met with opprobrium?

Look, I like Obama, I like what he is doing overall, and I despised Bush; but swooning in awe of everything that Obama does merely because he’s the one who did it is the stuff of teenaged idolatry rather than political discourse.

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