That first Barack Obama Presidential campaign had that whole “HOPE” thing going. The impression that most impressed me from four years ago was that, even before he was actually inaugurated, how busy he was dealing with an economic disaster far greater than he possibly could have anticipated.
I should have known, though, that the honeymoon would be short-lived. Less than a week after he had officially become President, he was criticized, on FOX News, of course, that he hadn’t done enough for the economy. Then when he came out with the “bailout”, it was considered too large. (I remain convinced that it wasn’t large enough.) The Republicans, for the most part, became intractable in coming up with any solution that didn’t harm the poor and middle class.
I began to tire of the term “job creators.” The “job creators” can’t create jobs because the taxes are too high. But jobs were created in the US for generations with far high rates.
These “spontaneous” tea party folks started coming out of the woodwork fairly early on, screaming at their Congresspeople at public meetings, and having rallies, covered as though they were news events, rather than staged propaganda, by FOX News.
It took almost no effort to find references to the President as a Muslim – “his name is Barack HUSSEIN Obama!” Or a socialist/communist/fascist, by people who seem to have zero grasp of what those words mean. Here is almost every Obama conspiracy theory ever.
The term was an uphill climb. A lot of political capital was used on Obamacare, a term that was initially used derisively, but which is now the recognized nomenclature. Worse, the health care bill didn’t pass until 2010, with no GOP support. If it was a triumph, far less than the universal coverage some of us were seeking – that got thrown under the bus quite early in the negotiations – it was a muted win.
After the Democratic “shellacking” (Obama’s word) in the midterm elections, it was often suggested that Obama would be a one-term President.
The killing of Osama bin Laden muted some critics of the President for about five, maybe even ten minutes. Still, with an anemic economic recovery, it seemed that the Republicans should be in the White House this week.
Fortunately for Obama, the Republicans decided to go to clown school. There was actual talk about whether birther darling Donald Trump would enter the race. Buffoons such as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick “what agencies WOULD I cut” Perry, and pizza man Herman “9-9-9” Cain all were frontrunners in the race at some point. Near the end, former senator Rick “don’t Google his last name” Santorum became a credible threat to what the Republican establishment thought was the inevitable nomination of Willard Mitt Romney.
While the administration was already the most progressive in terms of gay rights through 2011, after a hint by VP Joe Biden on a Sunday morning, President Obama came out in support for marriage equality. (It was 2012 was a very good year, in general.) I appreciated that the President took a principled stand on something.
In his first Presidential race, Barack Obama was dubbed as “no-drama Obama.” I believe that he spent his early years figuring out that he didn’t want to be perceived as an “Angry Black Man.” I remain convinced that his perceived anemic performance in the first debate with Romney was a function of that. His more aggressive demeanor in debate #2 generated the ABM charge in some circle.
Frankly, I was unsurprised about the difficulty of agreeing on federal tax rates and expenditures, and the debt ceiling, variations on the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Will the next four years be as frustrating as the last four? Will there be legislation passed on immigration, gun control, or any number of other issues?
2 thoughts on “The second Obama term”
This interesting “Frontline” doc covering his first term came out just a few days ago. By the way, I keep meaning to read that Robert Draper book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives…
I think we’ve still got quite a bit of frustration ahead of us, though I anticipate a more aggressive president (even if only slightly). I have been thinking more and more of late that we might be better off if presidents were only allowed one term. Not that I think that’s particularly long enough to do what needs doing, but because then they wouldn’t spend so much of their first time worrying about re-election, and could just go after what they really want to accomplish.