Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It's bad enough to read and hear the lies and misrepresentations put out by foaming-at-the muzzle extremist TPers and GOPers. But to read and listen to some liberals attack and undermine the president without understanding how government works and how FDR had to compromise with the worst elements in the Republican Party is not only disheartening but unfathomable as well.

Here's some history from Steve Benen:

"I’ve mentioned this before, but I often think about Social Security at its origins. In 1935, FDR accepted all kinds of concessions, excluding agricultural workers, domestic workers, the self-employed, the entire public sector, and railroad employees, among others. And why did the president go along with this? Because Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to cut deals with conservatives, even in his own party — many of whom were motivated by nothing more than racism — in order to get the legislation passed.

When delivering red-meat speeches in public, FDR saw his Republican critics and “welcomed their hatred.” When governing, FDR made constant concessions — even if it meant occasionally betraying his principles and some of his own supporters — in order to get something done.


Four years into Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential term, the worst of the Great Depression seemed behind him. Massive jolts of New Deal spending had stopped the economic slide, and the unemployment rate was cut from 22 percent to less than 10 percent.

'People felt that there was momentum,' U.S. Senate historian Donald Ritchie tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. 'Finally, there was the light at the end of the tunnel.'

So Roosevelt, on the advice of his conservative Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, decided to tackle the country’s exploding deficits. Over two years, FDR slashed government spending 17 percent.

'All of a sudden,' Ritchie says, 'after unemployment had been going steadily down, unemployment shot up, the economy stagnated, the stock market crashed again. And now it seemed we’d come out of the Hoover Depression to go into the Roosevelt recession.'

Similar decisions Roosevelt made about spending and austerity are being discussed at the White House right now. In the long term, both political parties say they agree that austerity is a good thing. But what about in the short term, while unemployment remains high?

In other words, today’s emo progressives would have been savagely attacking FDR the same way they’re attacking Obama now. And they would have had more grounds, between the internment of the Japanese, FDR’s initial failure to respond to the slaughter of innocents by Adolf Hitler (it was the Japanese we ultimately went to war against) and his ongoing refusal to address issues of racial segregation, lynching and discrimination against African-Americans, including in the armed forces. That and the compromises FDR accepted as part of the New Deal, including explicitly keeping racial parity out of the equation, would have made Roosevelt as great a villain to the purist progressives of today as Obama has become. And their disappointment would have been just as great.

The bottom line: Roosevelt was no less a great president — even a great liberal president. But being president requires compromises, often unpleasant ones, and there is no 'perfect' example of caution to the wind liberalism for the purists to point to. They can feel free to demonize Obama, but not with the weight of history on their side."

And to those of you who insist that President Obama shoulda/coulda advanced his liberal/progressive agenda more aggressively, here's another reality check:

Barack Obama and the myth of the progressive ‘majorities’


TAO said...

If we are going to use history as a guide then we would be better off comparing Obama to Hoover. Hoover was by all accounts a great guy, a decent man, but his policies, which were actually quite good, could not deal with the depth of the problems the country was facing at the time.

If you study history then you realize that Hoover attempted quite a few policies that are similar to what Obama is attempting.

The reality is we have not even begun to address our economic problems as a nation. From the right we get nothing but absurdity and stupidity and from the left we get nothing but spending and tax cuts; but of which do nothing in a nation that has off shored its productive capacity.

Until we hit bottom, and we are a couple of years a way from that point today we will not find any solutions....

So, lets support Obama, because he is the lesser of two evils but lets not delude ourselves into believing he has solutions.

Even in your own narrative you acknowledge that because FDR at this point in his tenure was creating jobs, Obama is still dealing with increases in unemployment.

Oh, and forget the 9.1% number because that counts only people actually looking....

Shaw Kenawe said...

You and Jonah Goldberg agree.

Barack Obama is Barack Obama. He's not Hoover, FDR, or any other president, and making comparisons like that at this time and place in our history doesn't work.

He's has a different set of problems and is dealing with a different opposition party that's short on brains and long on vengence.

The people running the TP are not rational.

Anonymous said...

By any rational assessment, Obama is an accomplished Progressive President. "Yet the only Americans fired up by the changes he has delivered,” writes Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson, “are Republicans and Tea Partiers hell-bent on reversing them.”

Enemies: Don’t let Obama’s disappointments conceal the perils of not supporting the President. Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, John Kasich, Allen West, the GOP, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, climate change deniers, FOX News, John Boehner, the conglomerate of lobbyists who will stop at nothing to repeal health care and financial reform – these are the true and cunning enemies. Not Obama.

Corporate America and their GOP henchmen would like nothing better than the help of short-sighted liberals in ousting the most Progressive President we’ve had in many decades.

TAO said...

I don't know who Jonah Goldberg is and I could care less. The reality is that the US has no economic policy to deal with the reality we find ourselves in. Keynes no longer works because of free markets and globalization and the stupid shit about tax cuts, job creators, and supply side economics never worked. As long as our economic policies are led by people with Wall Street backgrounds there will be no solutions.

Until we acknowledge that this is a DEPRESSION and not keep referring to it as a recession then we are just wasting time.

Now, in your partisan world that might be a slam against Obama but I don't think it is, and its not meant to be, but the reality he has no clue how to deal with our economic crisis because he gets his advice from the same people who created the disaster.

Until someone figures out an economic theory to deal with the fact that we have a two tier economic system, one that is global and the other that is not, then nothing will change. But you are not really interested in solutions are you but rather interested in promoting one party over the other....which makes you part of the problem and not the solution

TAO said...

If you actually study Herbert Hoover and look at his record you would realize that he could have been a great president had he been president at any other time. Jimmy Carter was actually a very good president also, had it not been for quite a few of the programs he started Reagan would never have been able to topple communism. He also did more to lower our debt than any other president in our lifetime.

The reality is until we give up on the wall street model for economic policy, which will not happen until things get worse, then there is very little Obama can do. He may be a smart guy but he's not an economist and basically until our current economic depression starts to effect the wealthy nothing will change.

That's the biggest difference between now and the FDR early years...right now the wealthy are attempting to use government to build a firewall to protect their wealth from falling victim to the same economic destruction that the poor and middle class are suffering.

Sue said...

I love the comment from anonymous, so much so I want to put it on my blog, if I may steal...

great post Shaw!

Leslie Parsley said...

Good find, Shaw. I bookmarked it. "The reality is" that every president is different. The FOIL-F crowd ("far-out-in-left-field") have set themselves up for disappointment by ascribing characteristics to Mr. Obama that simply never existed in the first place. One, of course, was the delusion that his election was the resurrection of FDR in black skin. Obama is not another FDR or HST or JFK or LBJ or Clinton - or conversely, or Hoover or any other Republican, or anyone else for that matter. Nor does he possess super-human powers and neither did the man in the wheelchair - but there is plenty of mythology circulating about FDR. Obama is what he is and what he has always been. Get over it.

Malcolm said...

Your listing of what FDR had to do during his administration puts things in perspective. Although I am not nearly as vocal a critic as some liberals, I sometimes fall into the trap of getting on President Obama for not being progressive enough. Obama's progressive critics have to remember what he's up against. When criticizing him, they often say something along the lines of "Bill Clinton would have done this". What they need to realize is that Clinton wasn't dealing with a GOP taken over by Tea Party lunatics.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Malcolm wrote: "What they need to realize is that Clinton wasn't dealing with a GOP taken over by Tea Party lunatics."

This is the truth.

Also, the fact that the GOP senators have fillabustered almost all of Mr. Obama's initiatives and they're still blocking appointments.

Their modus operandi is OBSTRUCTION and DESTRUCTION so that Mr. Obama will not be re-elected.

I can't think of any other president who has faced such obstructionism.

Sue, take the comment. I have no idea who anon is, but i'm guessing s/he wouldn't mind.


Trying to put Mr. Obama in a box and define him is a waste of time.

He is Barack Obama. Period.

Anonymous said...

As a gay man who constantly reads and digests data, I find this piece full of so many holes, it doesn't hold up.

Take my specific take on gay rights. President Obama shelved ending DADT until Reid and Pelosi brought it back from the dead. President Obama opposes marriage equality and his Justice Dept supports DOMA - except in a few rare cases. I don't swallow the bunk that passes as support. He is a follower when it comes to gay rights and he is following the safe path of non-action.

This article is just awful when you look into specific details. It almost always pick and chooses and frames what is a Conservative president - more conservative than Richard M. Nixon - by far!

The devil is in the details and it doesn't look good if you want a progressive president. Didn't he sign the legislation that extended the Bush tax cuts for the "job creators" who aren't creating jobs?

Shaw Kenawe said...

@Anonymous, DADT HAD to be "brought back from the dead by Reid and Pelosi, the president does not make the laws. DADT was the law.

This article from the Daily Beast gives what I believe is a balanced discussion on what Mr. Obama could or could not have done.

And this passage, I think, is crucial:

"Could Obama choosing not to enforce a law be challenged in court? Theoretically, but the only people who could plausibly have standing to sue for enforcement would be military officers and members of Congress, neither of whom would necessarily want to do so."

Seriously? Turly believed that in the current atmosphere of "Obstruct Obama On Everything" that exists in Congress, the anti-gay rightwingers wouldn't have jumped on the opportunity to sabotage him? Really?

The important thing is that Mr. Obama undid what a previous LIBERAL president, Clinton, instituted as law.

That he didn't do it a quickly as some wished--it was overturned less than 2 years into Obama's presidency--is a different argument.

The fact is that DADT is gone.

="You may want to read this post on these issues, which was written in May of this year.

There are rightwingers out there running for president who vowed to reinstitute DADT.

Also, after the Wisconsin recall elections, I think our liberal friends need to understand that this country is NOT a left-leaning country. People in Wisconsin worked their asses off to recall the sort of men and women legislators who believe that keeping gays as second-class citizens is what the American people want.

Shaw Kenawe said...

That second link is broken.

Try this.

TAO said...

Actually Shaw, poll after poll shows that Americans are a left leaning country, whether the issue is gay rights, equal rights, social programs, abortion, or religion.

What is the fundamental problem is that Americans also believe that government does NOT work, or at least it does not work to the benefit of the vast majority of Americans but rather only works for a small minority.

Thus if the choice is between more government or less government the voters are still choosing less government.

The key is the fact that government has become Neo Liberal and Americans have spent 30 years waiting for the promises of Neo Liberalism to trickle down into their lives and it hasn't. Thus the trust in government to improve our safety, our standard of living has been broken and it needs to be restored.

Tim said...

The truth of the matter is until we extricate ourselves from these wars and get people back to work his accomplishments are not having a major impact on the average American, and until these two things occur his re-election is in jeopardy. And God I don't want to see another Republican get in and wreck things even worse than W.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Actually, Tim, Obama's numbers are better than were Reagan's and Clinton's at this point in their presidencies. I'll see if I can find where I just read that.

The problem is that a lot of Dems will not see the forest for the trees and that's what will guarantee another GOP presidency.

Remember how that worked out with the governorships the GOP won in Wisconsin, Maine, Ohio, Florida, Michigan?

Some Dems want perfection from Obama like they've never wanted in other Democratic presidents.

Bill Clinton was a very popular president with the left.

And he's the one who gave us NAFTA, scaled back welfare, and gave us a law that instituted DADT.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that President Obama is responsible for signing the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the "job creators".

Heck of a job Obama!

Anonymous said...

He didn't sign the legislation extending the Bush cuts. That was forced upon him by those wanting to bankrupt the USA forcing us to put Social Security on the Block.

Don't blame him for what he did. It wan't his fault! It was the mean guys.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and he also tried to push repeal of DADT off the table.

As head of the military, he had full authority to stop having GLBT citizens thrown out of the military. He didn't have to change the law, he could have done what Bush did - which Obama said was perfectly legal.

You may have forgotten that he opposed including repeal of DADT in the Military Authorizatin Bill. His Justice Dept argued 4 different times that GLBT Americans deserved the same protection as: Felons, Sex Offenders and those convicted of child abuse. Yes, he is certainly a beacon of fairness and equality.

He is a follower of the Republican religion trying to move our political system to the right.

Who engineered the plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to the rich that now is endangering Social Security?

That's right, Obama.

Anonymous said...

I've observed several 'bots saying that some expect perfection of Obama. I'd just like to see non-Republican policy from Obama. That's a big step forward.

The posts here are right; President Obama pushed-for and signed the Bush tax cut extension. Isn't that what is driving the game to cut Social Security?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Good job all you anons.

Keep bashing this president and help him lose the preidency so a gay-hating GOPer--yes, they hate you, one of their lovelies is Michele Bachmann. Gay=Satan to her and her followers. Tim Pawlenty wants to re-institute DADT.

That's your GOP. They are forbidden to treat gays as equal, decent, loving human beings. It's against their fekken RELIGION!

Mitt Romney. Great guy. Won't take credit for Mass. Health, something that's helped millions of people here in my state, Massachusetts. Yeah. Mitt. Goes in and takes over companies, makes millions by putting working people out of jobs. Can't wait for him to be the Commander-in-Flip-Flops.

The fact IS Anon, that Mr. Obama, REPEALED DADT.

That would not have happened under a Republican president. Never, never, never.

John McCain--remember him? Maverick? Ferchrissake! HE was against the repeal!

You are arguing about the process. What the hell does that have to do with the fact that DADT no longer exists?

I'm not going to list all the progressive policies Mr. Obama has passed. They're available on the internet if you want to take the time to find and read about them.

The righties have labeled Mr. Obama as the most radical liberal president that has ever sat in the Oval Office, while you and other disaffected liberals call him worse than Bush.

You both can't be right.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Booman Tribune has this to say:

The Pres is the Last Man Standing

by BooMan
Mon Aug 8th, 2011 at 06:46:48 PM EST

It's hard to imagine Congress getting any less popular. The Republicans are succeeding in weakening the president, but they're making themselves even weaker in the process. I can't say for sure that this past weekend was a pivotal moment, but I think we may look back on it as the point in time when something snapped. It's like the Republicans kept pushing on a door, and pushing and pushing some more, with the idea that they were getting rewarded for bad behavior. But all the time the tension was rising and the resistance was building, until the door snapped back in their faces and sent them sprawling.

The presidency has a reputation for being stronger than it is in reality, and the Republicans rejoice in making Obama look impotent in any way that they can. They hold his appointments. They filibuster everything. They refuse to compromise on almost anything. This infuriates liberals and progressives who have big hopes and dreams and can't understand why they're not coming true. We all begin infighting and blaming each other. The public gets disgusted with the whole spectacle and starts to believe government is worthless. And the GOP benefits coming and going.

But the president is still the only politician in the country that has anywhere near decent poll numbers. People trust him more than they trust anyone else. And you can't beat something with nothing. And that's about the size of Mitt Romney...a great big nothing. And the rest of the GOP field is laughable.

The president might not be able to try liberal solutions to the unemployment problem, but he didn't overreach so far that he undermined our country's credit rating and caused a 600-point sell-off in the stock market. The Republicans did that to nothing but cheerleading from their presidential contenders.

Tim said...

Shaw Democrats lost in Michigan because Jenifer Grandholm was an ineffective governor, and our state suffered under inept leadership ( I say this a a man who voted for her twice because the republican opponents were even worse choices).

Even though I voted staright Democratic ticket in 2008, Gov. Snyder's opponent, Virg Benero (the nation's angriest mayor) was not a strong candidate. Democrats lost in MI because they own the mess that is Michigan.

That being said, I was hoping that Andy Dillon would have gotten the Democratic nomination. He is cut from the same cloth as Snyder, a corporate CEO who is a lawyer and an accountant. He is now the state treasuerer, even though he is a Democrat. Love him or hate him, Snyder is restoring some order to the chaos that Grandholm left in her wake. She was certainly the worst governor Michigan was burdened with in my lifetime.

Nameless Cynic said...

High five. You're my hero.

(Got a little behind on blog reading. Just getting to this now.)