Election thinking

Mark Thoma hosted Robert Kuttner at Firedoglake, the introduction begins with these words:

It’s possible to give two very different interpretations of the Obama presidency so far. The first is a relatively positive interpretation. Proponents of this view argue that even though Obama has faced a united GOP willing and able to use filibusters to thwart initiatives, and even though he has had opposition within his own party to progressive initiatives, he has still managed to rack up an impressive list of achievements. Take health care as an example. The health care legislation wasn’t all that progressives wanted, not by a long shot. But the legislation is an impressive start and, importantly, it leaves the door open to further change. Though people forget, programs such as Social Security or Medicare weren’t perfect at first, but were improved substantially over time.

Rdan here…I think two interpretations makes for a framing of the issue which is okay for a limited format and begins a conversation. The HCA example was an early effort that does not quite define the problem, however, in that a case could be made for HCA as a reasonable first step, but still does not address the political methods used. Eventhough the result might be defensible at least to some, how does that accrue to the process and message that was also produced, which appeared to be more closely aligned to Pres. Obama’s policy stance to start?

Proponents of this view also argue that a more aggressive posture would not have done any good, and it may have even been harmful…

Rdan..Some might argue this, but I think many held their concern in check more in confusion over the strategy and hopeful expectation in the beginning.

Obama doesn’t have FDR’s filibuster proof majority…

Rdan…Hmmmm…don’t buy this at all if it is indeed an argument…I believe it is an impression that is encouraged by DC, but choices were made. There were early indications of the direction Pres. Obama had in mind by his choices for advisors.

The negative view, and this is the view taken in Robert Kuttner’s book, sees the last year and half very differently.

But … this hopeful scenario is not the way Barack Obama’s first year unfolded. Instead of making a radical break with Wall Street…This book is an exploration of why Obama did not rise to seize a Roosevelt moment.

Mark Thoma notes:

There doesn’t seem to be an urge to fight toe to toe and to take the case directly to the public in Reganesque style as a means of putting pressure on legislators to support the administration’s policy intitiatives. Instead, we get backroom deals that compromise away core principles. And all of this in the search of bipartisanship that turns out, in the end, to be nothing but Lucy and the football.

Comments at Firedoglake were more varied than I expected, and comments at Economist View are worth a read. However, the comments indicate a need to come to terms not only with issues but how to proceed with the situation as it stands.