Is there no choice but voting for Obama?

M.J. Rosenberg writes: Back in 2007-8, I was an outspoken promoter of Barack Obama’s nomination and election. I believed he had both the skills and the progressive views that would make him another FDR. Additionally, as the first black president, his election would be a hugely significant milestone in the history of a country cursed by racism from the very beginning.

I was right only on that last point: race. Obama’s presidency changes America forever. No matter how successful or unsuccessful his presidency is judged to be, or whether he wins a second term, the very idea that the United States elected Barack Hussein Obama shows that a clear majority of the country accepts the revolutionary (for Americans) fact of racial equality. Yes, America is still cursed with racism but Obama’s face among the 44 presidents depicted in every child’s history book or on the post office wall, changes America in a profound way.

Unfortunately, I do not believe he has been a particularly good president. Former Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said of FDR that he was a born leader because, although he had a “second class intellect,” he had “a first class temperament. ” In my opinion, Obama is the opposite.

He is a brilliant man but he does not have the temperament for the presidency. He is reclusive, avoiding the glad handing of Congress that is necessary to get individual members of the House and Senate to feel personally close or loyal to him. He is not a fighter, always seeking to conciliate the opposition rather than defeat it. He refuses to use the presidency as a “bully pulpit” (in Theodore Roosevelt’s phrase), reaching over Congress and the media to rally the people behind him.

Worst of all, his critical policy decisions have been informed by timidity.

His two most significant efforts — reviving the economy and health care reform — were both hobbled by a lack of boldness and propensity for preemptive compromising. His stronger actions, as on gay equality and on immigration, were only undertaken after he had lost the strong mandate he was elected with and needed to solidify his base in advance of re-election

Obama’s foreign policy record is even worse. Between intensifying drone attacks, staying the course in Afghanistan, keeping Guantanamo open, and aligning our Middle East policies with Israel, Obama’s foreign policy is pretty much a continuation of George W. Bush’s.

In short, for progressives like me, Obama is a big disappointment. Nonetheless, it is absolutely critical that he be re-elected.

If M.J. wanted win this argument among the rest of us who have been particularly disappointed by Obama’s foreign policy record, he would need to show why with Obama as president there is less chance that the U.S. will go to war with Iran. That’s a difficult argument to make and thus it’s not surprising M.J. makes no mention of Iran.

A lot of the support Obama got in 2008 derived simply from antipathy for everything George Bush represented, but then we discovered that the opponent of torture preferred summary executions and that far from being the opposite of Bush, Obama turned out to be more like Bush 2.0.

Does he now deserve a second term just because he’s not a Republican?

The only thing that seems reasonable to predict about the 2012 election is that there will be a miserably low turnout. And the one person who will bear the primary responsibility for that will be the man who took a cynical ride on the hope of millions of Americans.

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5 thoughts on “Is there no choice but voting for Obama?

  1. delia ruhe

    You’re right: it’s a dismal choice — and I’m glad I don’t have to make it. But if I were an American, I would have to make it because not to show up at the polls would mean I’ve completely rejected democracy and have no appreciation for the women who made so many sacrifices so that I could political equality with men.

    So I’d have to vote for Obama. I don’t know if he is the lesser of two evils, but he is the devil we know.

  2. rosemerry

    I must agree. Obama is worse than WBush, but the Mutt is infinitely worse, and the SCOTUS is a complete disaster. What is going to happen??

  3. Alabala

    BS. Rosenberg was wrong (just like almost all of my “progressive friends”) back in 2008 and he is wrong now. He was wrong then because all the signs of Obama’s lack of any character or principles were clearly to be seen back then – provided one didn’t let ones desparate longing for “Hope and change” cloud ones judgement. I’ll only count a few examples, all establishes even before the 2008 elections: FISA vote, letting AT&T sponsor democratic convention (in exchange for voting to retroactively immunize telecoms for domestic spying), capitulation before AIPAC, ….
    This man is an empty suit, and would sell his grandma to advance professionally. He is the deep tanned Bush. He is worse than Bush. Just imagine al the things Obsma has. Den doing (war against whistle blowers, assassinating with due process, multiple secret wars, ….). Had McCain done the same thing at least there would be a huge outcry from the “progressives”. Now there is none.

    It is. It lesser of the two evils oth are evils. Clinton opened the floodgate of media consolidation, wall street deregulation, welfare reform, NAPTHA. And mark my words – it will be the demo rats who will kl social security, Medicare etc.

    I’ll vote – vote. Either of the 2 evils. Until enough people refuse to be taken hostage by the one party we have (with two different names) they g
    Have the American Sheeple by the balls.

    Stop playing the game. Vote for any key. It the two evils

  4. Alabala

    Sorry for the garbled text – my iPhone auto correct in action

    Vote for neither of the two evils

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