Liberal hack and annoying twerp Ezra Klein recently posted a lament for the president’s waning popularity titled “What could Obama have done?”
Klein’s query is just an updated iteration of an eternal, intractable, metaphysical question for the left: How can Democrats govern like liberals for any extended period of time and generate good results so they can maintain their favorable ratings?
To conservatives (and Bill Clinton), the answer is obvious: You can’t. Liberal policies don’t work. Any goodwill remaining toward you from your base for remaining a stubborn ideologue in the face of contrary evidence is overshadowed by widespread revulsion toward the disastrous consequences of your policies.
In other words: Conservatives are never going to like you, a few crazy liberals always will, but a large number of independents, moderates, and center-left voters will abandon you if you don’t give up on your leftist policies after the public realizes you are not a magician.
Since Klein asked, here’s what Obama could have done to enjoy a successful presidency and retain the sky-high favorability ratings he held in those blissful few minutes after he was sworn in before the trouble began.
Let’s start with the good news—things Obama did and should have done (hurry back from the fridge, right-wingers; this won’t take long!):
He didn’t get in the way of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden. He voiced support for the protestors in Egypt’s Tahrir Square calling for the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. He joined a coalition of nations in materially aiding the Libyan rebels who took down Gaddafi. He signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He extended the Bush tax cuts and argued for their utility during a recession.
Also, a few things Obama shouldn’t have done and didn’t:
He gave up on closing the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay. He reversed his pledge to hold a civilian trial for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He supported renewing the Patriot Act, thus abandoning his campaign promise to end warrantless wiretaps of those with terrorist connections. He never pushed through global warming legislation imposing caps on carbon dioxide emissions.
Much longer is the list of things Obama did and shouldn’t have done:
He shouldn’t have signed the $1 trillion stimulus bill, which had a trivial impact on job growth, did nothing to stop the rise of unemployment, and exploded the national deficit.
He shouldn’t have signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which infringes on individual liberties, raises the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, and implements none of the free-market reforms House Republicans proposed.
He shouldn’t have signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which gave two of the architects of the subprime lending-induced financial crisis the power to impose massive, vague, disruptive regulations on the banking industry, without even revoking the much-hated principle “too big to fail.”
He shouldn’t have signed Congress’s August 2011 bill raising the debt ceiling, which was both unnecessary and insufficient to prevent an S&P downgrade, and whose spending cuts are miniscule in the short-term, dependent on the caprice of a bipartisan “supercommittee” in the medium-term, and likely to be overturned by future Congresses in the long-term.
He shouldn’t have authorized rounds one and two of quantitative easing, which have led to rising inflation.
He shouldn’t have created a botched fund to prevent home foreclosures, one of many examples of his administration’s propensity to reward failure.
He shouldn’t have supported the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to prevent Boeing from relocating part of its operations from a unionized state (Washington) to a right-to-work state (South Carolina).
He shouldn’t have taken over the nation’s largest car companies and signed into law the wasteful Cash for Clunkers program.
He shouldn’t have showily banned waterboarding as an enhanced interrogation technique, insisted that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, demanded premature troop withdrawal in Afghanistan independent of the advice of generals running the war, or bowed to the British Queen, the Saudi king, and every other world leader he could.
Finally, he shouldn’t have blamed George W. Bush, the Republican minority in Congress, the Tea Party, the BP oil spill, the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami, ATMs, corporate jet owners, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, a butterfly flapping its wings in Tobago—anything but his own policies—for the country’s economic woes.
And here are the things Obama didn’t do but should have:
He should have demanded that Congress pass budgets for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
He should have made the Bush tax cuts permanent.
He should have supported free-market health care reforms, such as allowing the sale of insurance across state lines, expanding health savings accounts, and enacting malpractice tort reform.
He should have voiced greater support for Iran’s and Syria’s pro-reform protestors.
Happy you asked, Ezra?
- For Obama, label of war president won’t stick (politico.com)
- Byron York: Hey, You Know What the Current Main Driver Of Our Deficit Is? Not Entitlements– Spending (minx.cc)
- Fighting From Giving Up Hope Altogether on the Obama Presidency (woodgatesview.wordpress.com)
- Liberals complain about Obama; will it cost votes? (sfgate.com)
- Losing Liberals (skydancingblog.com)