In a recent Newsweek article, writer Andrew Sullivan compared the criticisms President Obama is receiving now against his actual record over the last four years. What he found were two very different people.
What I took away from the article was simple. Obama needs our help more now than he did in 2008, and he deserves it. He is not getting the grandeur and sainthood of his 2008 campaign back, and he can no longer be the first black president in our history. What he can be is the president that turned this country around, but he needs our help to get there.
The right attacks him for being a welfare president who wants to grow the tax money devouring government to insane proportions, give your money to lazy people, and tell you how to live your life. The reality? Obama has shifted more jobs to the private sector than when Ronald Reagan was in office, has put a floor on the collapsing economy preventing a possible depression, and has lowered taxes on most Americans. He has also passed a health care bill based around an idea pioneered by the Heritage Foundation and two others who have been in the news recently, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Sullivan writes, “Bush’s new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion. Under Obama’s budgets both past and projected, he will have added $1.4 trillion in two terms. Under Bush and the GOP, non-defense discretionary spending grew by twice as much as under Obama.” Take the names away and it would be hard to believe that the Republicans have been attacking the second guy for out of control spending.
Democrats have had their own criticisms, calling Obama a tool of Wall Street, denouncing his attempts to work across party lines, and diminishing his weak stimulus and financial reform.
Sullivan writes that everyone seems to be missing two vital things. First, no one seems to see how much Obama has actually accomplished. The other is Obama’s long run strategy that is responsible for many of his successes. Instead of settling for short-term political victories, he has fought for what he could get done in the long run to help this country.
This strategy often left him vulnerable, without the shiny new political victory to flash in front of us. It left many people who voted for him wondering what had happened, why he looked so week at times, and against many strategists advice, willing to let others define him.
The short answer is that he was doing it to make this country better. But it was and is a risky strategy, and without a little help, it may not give him the second term he deserves.
The Republican candidates have been playing the typical (and effective) conservative strategy. Repeat the same values laden messages over and over again and pin everything possible on the president. The Koch brothers recently got together with their friends and pledged $100 million dollars towards defeating Obama in the fall. Because of Obama’s long game mentality, he is susceptible to these kinds of attacks.
That is where we come in. Obama needs us now more than ever. With our help, he will continue his fight to work for America, not work for whatever he can take credit for.
Like Clint Eastwood reminded us during the Super Bowl, evoking Reagan’s famous political ad, it is halftime in America. If we play our cards right, it can be halftime in President Obama’s time in office. This country is starting to turn around thanks in large part to our president; we have momentum with 23 consecutive months of job growth. Now is not the time to kill that momentum by changing leaders. Now is the time for us to work hard to give Obama his deserved second term, and for all of us to complete the comeback that we, together, have so miraculously started.