Thursday, July 15, 2010

More on “a Failed Presidency?”

There used to be a commercial for Old Milwaukee Beer that showed a bunch of unshaven guys gassing on about fishing around an open camp fire before one of them, shaking his head contentedly, says something to the effect that “this is as good as it gets."  I remember being depressed by the thought that he might be right.

I’m reminded of all that by Kevin Drum’s acute observation about the Obama presidency in the wake of today’s passage of the financial reform bill:
“I've got some good news and some bad news for you today [. . .] .

“Here's the good news: this record of progressive accomplishment officially makes Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. And here's the bad news: this shoddy collection of centrist, watered down, corporatist sellout legislation was all it took to make Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. Take your pick. . . .

“Still, if you're a liberal, this is the best you've had it for a very long time. Whether this is cause for cheer or cause for discouragement is, I suspect, less a reflection on Obama than it is on America writ large.”
It would be going overboard to say that, for a liberal, Obama’s presidency so far "is as good as it gets.” It would be a lot better if building a “record of progressive accomplishment” hadn’t made him and the Democratic Party so unpopular. But measured against liberalism’s political fortunes over the last thirty years, it’s pretty damn good. And that’s depressing.

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