Obama shows himself a Natural for a Second Term in Debate with Republicans

President Barack Obama was so effective in his 90-minute ‘questions session’ with the congressional Republican conference that some Republican leaders are said to be regretting that they allowed the session to be recorded. Fox Cable News rectified the error by pulling away its own cameras. Luckily, C-Span was there.

Obama complained about hyperbole on the Republican Right, such that the health bill, which is similar to Republican proposals of the early 1990s when Clinton was trying to overhaul health reform, is depicted as a Bolshevik plot to impose big government.

Here is the C-Span video:

My own view is that pundits and politicians are writing off Obama prematurely. He is likeable, which counts for a lot in politics. People forget now that Reagan had a deep recession, was forced out of Lebanon, and was ridiculed for saying that trees cause pollution, but he trounced Mondale. Clinton failed to pass health care reform, but he trounced the dour Dole. Inside the beltway policy wonks don’t include the likeability index in their prognostications, but it was on full display in the president’s back-and-forth with Republicans at Baltimore on Friday.

And, it is entirely possible that the rest of his term will see substantial job creation, which is what will really matter to voters. As it is, the economy grew by nearly 6% in the fourth quarter of 2009, and if that sort of growth continues, lots of people will be back to work.

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6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the cheer leading — I needed some cheering up!

    But I think the last paragraph on jobs is a bit too hopeful.

    Here's Krugman on why the 5.7% 4Q2009 growth is a blip (written 2 weeks ago when Goldman Sachs was already predicting it):

    link to krugman.blogs.nytimes.com

    And here's Krugman on the true enormity of the job mountain we have to climb:

    link to krugman.blogs.nytimes.com

    Obama may well win a second term. But he's going to have economic headwinds against him the whole time. We might as well face the fact that he took power during such an awful crisis that some people worried even before he took office that it might be a booby trap.

  2. Beware, Juan, of that fourth quarter growth. Paul Krugman, who has been very good at analyzing this entire economic meltdown, thinks that it's a one-time blip due to the stimulus package.

  3. ref : “My own view is that pundits and politicians are writing off Obama prematurely. Although I agree with you, professor, the political issue isn't so much the presidency; rather, it is the U.S. Congress, and the State Governorships, etc., elective offices in which incumbents in general, and Democrats in particular are in jeopardy.

    fwiw, recently deceased historian Howard Zinn's thoughts on Mr. Obama ~ interestingly, this bleak assessment of the President was just scrubbed from his Wiki : «I' ve been searching hard for a highlight. The only thing that comes close is some of Obama's rhetoric; I don't see any kind of a highlight in his actions and policies. As far as disappointments, I wasn't terribly disappointed because I didn't expect that much. I expected him to be a traditional Democratic president. On foreign policy, that's hardly any different from a Republican — as nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike. So in that sense, there's no expectation and no disappointment. On domestic policy, traditionally Democratic presidents are more reformist, closer to the labor movement, more willing to pass legislation on behalf of ordinary people — and that's been true of Obama.

    But Democratic reforms have also been limited, cautious. Obama's no exception. On healthcare, for example, he starts out with a compromise, and when you start out with a compromise, you end with a compromise of a compromise, which is where we are now.

    I thought that in the area of constitutional rights he would be better than he has been. That's the greatest disappointment, because Obama went to Harvard Law School and is presumably dedicated to constitutional rights. But he becomes president, and he's not making any significant step away from Bush policies. Sure, he keeps talking about closing Guantánamo, but he still treats the prisoners there as "suspected terrorists." They have not been tried and have not been found guilty. So when Obama proposes taking people out of Guantánamo and putting them into other prisons, he's not advancing the cause of constitutional rights very far. And then he's gone into court arguing for preventive detention, and he's continued the policy of sending suspects to countries where they very well may be tortured.

    I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.»

  4. great point – I really am not worried about Obama being reelected… I think he will be. But I am worried about the congress in 2010. If the Democrats lose their majority — it will be difficult (impossible, most likely) for Obama to get his agenda through…

  5. Growth, no growth, whatever. The GOP would never give credit to Obama for anything.

    The party of NO will continue unabated.

  6. I don;t think he should be reelected. Not because of where we are as a nation, or what is being said about policies, or what is going on in other countries… It's because we as a nation, need temporary solutions. We need immediate cause and effect.

    If President Obama can leave office with job growth, a debate on the table about national health care benefits, returned military from overseas combat, and just maybe get some of that money back from banks, car companies, and corporate war machines, he can call himself a suitable President for the times that he was called upon. If he tries to stretch it out like Clinton, we will be left with no choice BUT to vote republican, no American likes the thought of 12-16 years of the same party in the White House.

    But I thought this was a State of the Union address, not an election speech. I didn't get much about what we have today as a scorecard, I got a lot of where we should be going.

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