Starting the big push for Elizabeth Warren

I’ve been doing little bits and pieces  for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign since August, but the big push to election day starts today.  Interesting that Scott Brown didn’t want to participate in a rescheduled debate which would have taken place last night.  I think he is seeing the growing agreement between the polls and realizes that he is losing.  He certainly lost ground while debating.  This is from Monday.

Senator Scott Brown said today that there was no need for a final debate with Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, while she said she would be willing to participate in a rescheduled match-up on Thursday night.

Brown did not rule out rescheduling the debate, which had been slated for tonight, but made clear that he had little interest in doing so.

I’m not sure another debate would have changed much, but there you go.  Brown went from “I have a truck and can pick her up”  to “I’m too busy.” between Friday and Tuesday.  Do you think that it had to do with the Suffolk University poll that showed Warren up by 7?

Garry Trudeau has been running an occassional series on the campaign featuring Joanie Caucus as a Warren staffer.  If Joanie can keep pushing after hip surgery, so can the rest of us.

Doonesbury

The Last Word from Newt

Even though we probably haven’t really heard the last word from Speaker Gingrich, it is nice to think that we have.  Here is what may be that last word from Doonesbury today.

Doonesbury

Newt started out his quest for the 2012 Republican nomination by telling the truth about the Paul Ryan budget.  I think the two things I will remember him most for are the Contract on American and Right Wing Social Engineering.  Maybe he can start a new career helping zoos and conservation centers.

 

So what has Obama accomplished?

The group Winning Progressive has a posted a list of the President’s achievements the last 3 years.  

This picture and the text list only a few accomplishments but given the hostility of almost half of Congress and the American people we Democrats, progressives, liberals what ever we label ourselves can be proud.   One needs to click on the link above to get a more complete list.

Those of us who support the President and support his re-election need to ask ourselves why a vast majority of people don’t think he has done anything.  Paul Glastris in  Washington Monthly points out in his long article “The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama”.

In mid-January, pollsters for the Washington Post and ABC News asked a representative sampling of Americans the following question: “Obama has been president for about three years. Would you say he has accomplished a great deal during that time, a good amount, not very much, or little or nothing?

When the poll’s results were released on January 18, even the most seasoned White House staffers, who know the president faces a tough battle for reelection, must have spit up their coffee: more than half the respondents—52 percent—said the president has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing.”

It is often said that there are no right or wrong answers in opinion polling, but in this case, there is an empirically right answer—one chosen by only 12 percent of the poll’s respondents. The answer is that Obama has accomplished “a great deal.”

Paul Glastris continues what the President has done and to try to explain why people don’t think he has done much.

In short, when judging Obama’s record so far, conservatives measure him against their fears, liberals against their hopes, and the rest of us against our pocketbooks. But if you measure Obama against other presidents—arguably the more relevant yardstick—a couple of things come to light. Speaking again in terms of sheer tonnage, Obama has gotten more done than any president since LBJ. But the effects of some of those achievements have yet to be felt by most Americans, often by design. Here, too, Obama is in good historical company.

The greatest achievements of some of our most admired presidents were often unrecognized during their years in office, and in many cases could only be appreciated with the passing of time. When FDR created Social Security in 1935, the program offered meager benefits that were delayed for years, excluded domestic workers and other heavily black professions (a necessary compromise to win southern votes), and was widely panned by liberals as a watered-down sellout. Only in subsequent decades, as benefits were raised and expanded, did Social Security become the country’s most beloved government program. Roosevelt’s first proposal for a GI Bill for returning World War II veterans was also relatively stingy, and while its benefits grew as it moved through Congress, its aim remained focused on keeping returning veterans from flooding the labor market. Only later was it apparent that the program was fueling the growth of America’s first mass middle class. When Harry Truman took office at the dawn of the Cold War, he chose the policy of containment over a more aggressive “rollback” of communism, and then he built the institutions to carry it out. He left office with a 32 percent public approval rating. Only decades later would it become clear that he made the right choice.

President Obama’s weak point is definitely the economy and the stimulus.  Was the stimulus too little to have a huge impact as Paul Krugman would argue or was it a total waste as many conservatives including those currently running for the Republican nomination would have us think?  The facts are that the bailout of the banks and of the auto industry did work and in the end it didn’t cost the taxpayers since money was paid back with interest.  Obama supporters need to hope that economic numbers continue to improve.

Glastris continues

I had conversations recently with six presidential scholars. Three of them—Robert Dallek, Matthew Dallek, and Alan Lichtman—said that, based on what Obama has gotten done in his first term, he has a good shot at ranking in or just below the top ten presidents of history, but with the proviso that he almost certainly needs to get reelected to secure that position. The other three—Alan Brinkley, David Greenberg, and Allen Guelzo—took a more jaundiced view. While conceding that Obama has put a lot of points on the board in terms of legislation, they felt that the highly compromised nature of that legislation, among other things, reflects qualities of leadership—a lack of experience, acumen, and forcefulness—that will keep him from ranking with the great presidents, and will more likely place him somewhere in the middle of the pack, presuming he even gets reelected.

These last three scholars’ views mesh with the broader feeling among Obama’s critics, especially on the liberal side, that Obama is fatally overcautious. What’s notable about such critiques is that they essentially rest on arguments that are counterfactual—that a savvier, more experienced, more energetic president could have gotten more done. Certainly that’s plausible, if unprovable. But it is equally plausible, as Ezra Klein has argued, that what has constrained Obama is not a lack of boldness but a lack of political space. With Republicans unified in opposition and willing to abuse the filibuster such that to pass any legislation has required sixty Senate votes that Obama has seldom had, it is unrealistic to think he or anyone could have done a whole lot better.

I would argue that part of that lack of political space is due to race.  I know that some who read this blog may feel that I harp on race too much, but it is the, so to speak, elephant in the room.  Just look at todays Doonesbury.

Doonesbury

Gladris ends with this

One of the most important tasks a president must master—and Obama hasn’t—is speaking up for his own record. This has been especially challenging for him because of the still-widespread economic suffering across the country and the too-soon-to-tell quality of his biggest accomplishments. And again, his even temperament hasn’t helped. He has seemed to want his achievements to speak for themselves. Who wouldn’t? But the presidency doesn’t work that way. A president has to remind the public every day of what he’s already done, why he’s done it, and how those achievements fit into a broader plan that will help them in the future.

With his State of the Union and some subsequent speeches, he has only begun this task. And while it’s very late in the day, the election is still eight months away. The irony is that, while Barack Obama has achieved a tremendous amount in his first term, the only way to secure that record of achievement in the eyes of history is to win a second. And to do that, he first has to convince the American voters that he in fact has a record of achievement.

So if the prospect of one of the Republican candidates becoming President frightens you, you need to help the President in spreading the word about what he has done in three years in the face of immense opposition.

The State of the Obama Presidency

All of our expectations were so high when Barack Obama took office 18 months ago.  He was going to fix the economy, end the wars in Iraq and Afganistan, give us health care reform, fix the schools, walk on water….

After 8 years of George W. and after the wasted Clinton years, we progressives were ready.  So where are we now?  This Doonesbury cartoon says its all.

We are like his kids and think he can do anything.  Unfortunately, there is the Senate to deal with and the fall elections which still look difficult for the Democrats.  I’m hoping they can just hang on to enough seats to keep control and Obama’s agenda has a fighting chance.