by Jason Easley
On her MSNBC program last night Rachel Maddow highlighted an often overlooked fact concerning the presidency of Barack Obama. Maddow said, “By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”
Here is the video of the segment from MSNBC:
Maddow hailed the passage of START as victory for Obama, “If this treaty gets ratified tomorrow, it will be political malpractice to not call it an unqualified victory for this president and for this presidency. Reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles, working toward Ronald Reagan’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons, locking down loose nuclear materials so it doesn’t end up in the hands of terrorists, the whole smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud except for real?”
She highlight the ways that this is a win for Obama, “Getting this treaty ratified is a huge victory for President Obama and something that Republicans said they would deny him. It is a political win for the president because it has been on his agenda for a long time. It is a signature issue for him, a tactical win because Republicans said he wasn’t going to get it. It is a save the world win because if you care about, oops, it’s the nuclear end of the world you care about treaties like this getting passed.”
Maddow discussed how historic the past two years have been, “If the Senate ratifies the START treaty tomorrow it caps an astonishing period in American political history. For the last two years, Democrats have held the White House as well as big majorities in the House and Senate. The record of achievement in that time, even in the face of unified at times totally random republican opposition, Republican opposition even to things Republicans had proposed in the first place, unified Republican opposition to their own ideas? Their track record even in the face of that is historic. Whether you agree or disagree with what Democrats have done in the first two years of President Obama’s presidency, they have freaking done it.”
She listed all the accomplishments, “The fair pay act for women, expanding children’s health insurance, new hate crimes legislation they said could not be done, tobacco regulation, credit card reform, student loan reform, the stimulus — which in addition to helping pull this country back from the brink of a great depression, was also the largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the largest investment in education in our country ever. There was also a little thing you may have heard of called health reform. Also, Wall Street reform, the improvements to the new G.I. Bill, the most expansive food SAFETY BILL SINCE THE 1930s. And tomorrow, President Obama will officially sign a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Later Rachel Maddow delivered the kicker, “There are big things this administration said that it wanted to do that it hasn’t done yet. Energy reform, immigration reform, the bush tax cuts for the rich were extended, closing Guantanamo. Those are some of them. Today it looked like one of the important judicial nominees will not get a vote to become a judge this year. There is territory the White House has said it would like to cover that it has not yet covered. By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”
If you would have told policy people and political scientists two years ago that halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama will have accomplished 85% of his agenda, they would have laughed at you and told you how impossible that would be given the amount of polarization in our legislative process. If you would go on to tell them that after one year Obama would lose his 60 vote majority in the Senate, and would still pass major legislation the experts would have told you to seek mental help, but this is exactly what President Obama has accomplished.
What Obama has managed to achieve has not been seen in this country since FDR and the New Deal, and on a smaller level LBJ after President Kennedy was assassinated. The past two years have been historic, yet a small vocal minority of Obama’s base is upset with this president and the nation as a whole tends to give him little credit for what he has done.
It would be easy to blame his supporters and the American people for not paying attention, but that isn’t an accurate portrayal of what’s going on here. The problem is that Obama is not interested in victory laps, and publicly taking credit for his accomplishments. Obama wants to get things done, but the President has hopefully learned the hard lesson that if he doesn’t sell his own accomplishments, his opponents are more than happy to use the media to distort and tear them down.
Obama may be a great legislative president, but he needs to also be the Salesman in Chief. After the repeal of DADT passed he should have been out in front of the cameras with a statement. The White House needs to understand that the American people will never give Obama the credit he deserves unless he tells them what he has done. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, Obama has already had an unprecedented, for the modern era, run of success.
Obama will probably win a second term, but it is a shame that so many people don’t understand what this president has done. Recognizing the facts as Rachel Maddow did does not make one an Obama apologist, or an Obama cheerleader, but it is important to note that the facts don’t back up the notion that Obama is somehow a failed president, or unworthy of the left’s support. You may not always agree with what he has done, but there can be no denying the epic weight of his accomplishments. Obama deserves some credit, even if he refuses to take it himself.