"New Start" and "DADT" Obama Wins Again (Critics Lose... Again)

The president's critics Left and Right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with no sense of history, thrown in for good measure. Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their "reality" rather than reality defining their ideas.
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With the Senate closing in on voting to ratify the "New Start" treaty with Russia, and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Obama's critics from the Left and Right have -- once again -- been proved dead wrong. And this happened after the Democrats' defeat in the midterm elections.

Once again, the president has proved smarter than his critics, let alone than the Republican "leadership."

As for his critics from the Right they have been reduced, like John McCain, to trying to undermine the effectiveness of our military by making dour, potentially self-fulfilling "prophecies" like this; "[having gays serving in the military will] harm the battle effectiveness vital to the survival of our young men and women in the military."

As for the Left it's also trying to undermine the president with talk about a sellout to Wall Street, "failed" tax policy etc., etc. (Somewhat perversely these days some of Obama's Lefty critics even seem to be rooting for Julian Assange with a lot more enthusiasm than for their president.) Or as Bob Cesca put it in the Huffington Post:

It's becoming increasingly difficult to participate in a [progressive] movement where so many colleagues have careened off the rails. We're supposed to be the smart ones, the reality-based people.

And yet, out of some sort of manic-depression or desire for hipster cred, we've become overly preoccupied with tearing down the most liberal president in decades using non-reality-based criticisms instead of laser-focusing our efforts and resources on tearing down the real killers -- conservatives, Tea Party people and the GOP.

And that's not the half of it. Before he'd served even one year, President Obama lost the "support" of the easily distracted, terminally impatient, American "Left" and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled Right.

But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right-wing agitator, now progressive writer and, given my background as I describe in my book Crazy For God, the son of a famous evangelical leader, unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our president.

Why? Because he is, has been, and will continue succeeding. Obama's critics from the Left and Right are being proved dead wrong, again and again.

We Obama supporters trust our first impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us. We also trust our belief that he is the smartest man in any room.

Obama's steady supporters have again been proved right. Obama's Lefty critics will be remembered as the prematurely discouraged.

His critics on the Right will be remembered as nothing but shriveled hate mongers who even after they "won" in the midterms were outsmarted by Obama, from repeal of DADT to extending unemployment benefits -- not to mention reforming health care etc., etc.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity.

As the president's poll numbers fell he never lost sight of his goals. Even so his support from some on the Left, that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election evaporated -- when he didn't instantly do everything they hoped for on their timetable.

The Left's lack of faith became a self-fulfilling "prophecy" at the midterms -- snipe at the president and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend you didn't have anything to do with it! The Left wanted a rock star and got a president smarter than the talking heads. They wanted miracles and got hard work instead, they wanted magic and got the slogging reality of trying to govern. The Left helped undermine the enthusiasm for our first black president and contributed to the midterm losses.

But Obama is triumphing notwithstanding.

Here is what Obama faced when he took office -- none of which was his fault:
  • An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries

  • Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral
  • The worst economic crisis since the depression
  • America 's standing in the world at the lowest point in history
  • A health care system in free fall
  • An educational system in free fall
  • A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)
  • An impasse between culture warriors from the Right and Left
  • A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration...
  • And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President's desk...

    "Help" from the Right?

    What did the Republicans and the Religious Right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists -- that is what the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office -- do to "help" our new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he wasn't a real American, didn't have an American birth certificate, wasn't born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating "racist", was secretly a communist, was actually the Antichrist, (!) and was a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the elderly!

    "Help" from the Left?

    What did the Left do to "help" their newly elected president? Some of them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan that he'd inherited from the worst president in modern history!

    Others stood up and "bravely" proclaimed that the President's economic policies had "failed" before the President even instituted them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office, they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind that Obama's vocal support to the gay community was stronger than any other president's has ever been. Never mind that he signed a new hate crimes law! And now he's managed to get DADT repealed!)

    The president's critics Left and Right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality), thrown in for good measure. Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their "reality" rather than reality defining their ideas.

    Meanwhile back in the reality-based community -- in just 20 short months -- President Obama:

    • Drew down the misbegotten war in Iraq...

  • Presided over the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and ratification of the "New Start" treaty
  • Restored America 's image around the globe
  • Stopped the free fall of the American economy
  • Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
  • Began to put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming
  • Stood up for educational reform and started the process of reform
  • Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that seven presidents had failed to even begin -- and then got the legislation passed!
  • Responded to hatred from the Right and Left with measured good humor and patience
  • Stopped the free fall of job losses and got unemployment benefits extended, even after the Republicans won in the midterm elections
  • Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous Far Right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the "blood of tyrants" watering the "tree of Liberty."
  • ...Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN BARELY TWO YEARS -- President Obama "failed." Other than that he didn't "live up to expectations"! (I'm not alone in this year end praise of President Obama: check out Rachel Maddow's assessment.)

    Or as commentator Frank Gruber puts it:

    I hope President Obama's critics on the Left, who so bitterly complained about his deal with the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years (meanwhile creating a huge stimulus for the economy by obtaining many benefits for unemployed workers and middle-class taxpayers), will recognize that perhaps the president knows more about politics than they do... At least if you consider politics the art of getting things done, and not the habit of feeling morally superior but losing all the time.

    President Obama is in the midst of a great presidency. History is on his side, not on the side of his critics.

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