It's not all Obama's fault - Macleans.ca
 

It’s not all Obama’s fault


 

Two recent articles on this site—one by Mark Steyn, the other by Luiza Ch. Savage—suggested Barack Obama is responsible for the rising tension and partisan polarization that led to the raucous Tea Parties and townhall meetings of the summer. Indeed, Obama has lost support since the late spring, particularly among independent voters and the elderly. The healthcare debate has been a factor, but it has also become increasingly clear an innate fear of big government has a lot to do with the unease since Obama’s inauguration. Still, to put the blame solely on Obama’s policies or, in the cases of Jimmy Carter and Maureen Down, on racism, is to deal in oversimplification.

We should not forget the situation Obama inherited last November. Lehman Brothers had just gone belly up and some of the most advanced industrial economies in the world were on the verge of collapse. As a result, even George W. Bush, the most devoted believer in the free market system since Ronald Reagan, found himself pouring billions in government money into the financial markets to stabilize them. The nationalization of GM and the bailouts that followed were not the products of Obama promises or policies; they were the result of unregulated markets in which greed overtook prudence, sound business policy, and good judgement. It is all too easy to forget that it was a conservative, free market ideology that went awry. Also forgotten is the fact that the largest deficits in history prior to 2008 occurred under Reagan and Bush 43. Say what you will about tax-and-spend liberals in the Democratic party—Clinton left a surplus at the end of his second term.

Faced with the prospect of a deep recession, the Obama administration adopted a stimulus package worth close to $800 billion and continued the TARP injections begun under the Bush administration. The Republicans, meanwhile, decided that cooperation was not a good political option. Instead, they have let fear mongering and the Birther movement dominate the opposition to Obama. While it is true that House Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have done little to temper the partisan rhetoric that existed before Obama took office, it is also true that Republicans have offered very little in the way of alternative policies. Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the Palin Republicans may like to blame it all on Obama and his administration, but the mess America is in today dates back to before he won office.

Americans are rightly concerned about the broader direction of their country. Just a decade ago, they were living in a time of unprecedented economic growth, unemployment was close to 5 per cent, and America was the undisputed superpower of the world. Though global tensions existed, Americans could not be faulted for feeling secure and confident about the future. A decade later and eight years after 9-11, Americans have become embroiled in two wars that are among the longest in their history and are seeing tensions with Iran approach a boiling point; the economy has suffered record bankruptcies and home losses; and unemployment is about to cross the 10 per cent threshold. In the meantime, healthcare has remained in dire need of fixing, with most Americans agreed that costs, coverage and access must all be addressed.

It should come as no surprise that Obama would choose to be an activist president, both in policy and in rhetoric. The model is more FDR than Hoover. Obama’s reforms go from healthcare to the environment to financial regulations and beyond. In implementing them, he has made a point of being ever-present in the media and of challenging the conventional policy wisdom in existence for over 25 years. Given all this, it is understandable that he would lose support in the process—Americans are always suspect of government solutions or encroachment. The rising deficit and the mounting debt has rightly brought fiscal conservatives out of the woodwork to contest Obama’s policies and raise the spectre of inflation and unemployment emerging simultaneously. This is a healthy and legitimate debate. But to blame the current state of affairs in America, where debate is as polarized as ever, primarily on Obama is exaggerated, inaccurate and misleading.


 

It’s not all Obama’s fault

  1. Okay. I'll get there first …. obviously you're in the tank for the Kikuyu Kommunist.

    Glad that's out of the way.

    • You don't know what you're talking about. Obama's tribe is not, in all accounts, Kikuyu. His father is from Luo tribe in Western Kenya. Do your homework before throwing a falsehood like that out there.

    • I bet you considered putting the winky face after your comment and ruled it out, thinking you had already communicated a sufficient level of cheek.

  2. He's the leader. "The Buck stops here" as another President once said.
    indyfromaz.wordpress.com

  3. Stick with the Canadian politics, Philippe. This is very similar to the nonsensical propaganda that Parisella writes.

    I agree the focus on the President, in general, does not really make sense at all. Presidents get blamed/congratulated for all sorts of domestic policies they had minimal role in. Much more focus should be placed on Congress and what they get up to.

    However, this meme that Obama is a victim of circumstances is naive, at best. Obama did not have to nationalize the auto companies nor did he have to start health care debate without a plan. Reagan had big deficits but that was because Congress was controlled by Dems, and Congress writes the budgets. Clinton left office with surplus because Repubs were in charge of Congress.

    "The Republicans, meanwhile, decided that cooperation was not a good political option."

    Why should they cooperate if they don't agree with the policies that Dems are proposing? Nothing Repubs can come up with has a hope in hell of being passed by Dem controlled Congress so why the focus on Repubs and what they aren't doing. Maybe if Dems bought a clue and acknowledged they are in power/control and need to start governing soon, things would be going better for them.

    "The model is more FDR than Hoover."

    I think you will find that if you did more than scratch the surface of your biases, you would know that Hoover was quite activist. I think the President you are looking for is Coolidge, who said "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business." and "Four-fifths of all our troubles would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still."

    • This was in fact John's post and not mine.

      • Name was changed afterwards, I guess. I was wondering what was going on because it did not seem like something you would write.

  4. Yes, it is true that Pres Clinton left office with a surplus and he deserves credit. But an qual amount of the credit goes to the Republican Congress just like Jean Chretien and Paul Martin benefitted from the fact that Preston Manning was opposition leader.

  5. Yes, it is true that Pres Clinton left office with a surplus and he deserves credit. But an equal amount of the credit goes to the Republican Congress just like Jean Chretien and Paul Martin benefitted from the fact that Preston Manning was opposition leader.

    • Was that the same Republican Congress that included The Great Liberator Phil Gramm ?

  6. I blame him because he bankrupting the next generation . And we can't criticize him because of the liberal media.

    • Haven't you just criticized him? Didn't jolyon just criticize him? Steyn and others in "the media" do it all the time, don't they? Come on. The media is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's neither monolithically liberal nor conservative, and it certainly does not stop people from criticizing Barack Obama or anyone else, any more than it stops me from criticizing you for uttering such nonsense.

    • Amazingly, the "next generation" throws more support behind Obama than most other demographics (ok, except African Americans).

      As scary a prospect as it is, this debt can be repaid. You want the next generation to not go bankrupt? Then fix American health care costs, fix social security and provide some sort of energy security. American youth can handle loans, far more easily than they can handle mountains of unfunded liabilities as a result of the baby boomer retirement wave.

  7. But to blame the current state of affairs in America, where debate is as polarized as ever, primarily on Obama is exaggerated, inaccurate and misleading.

    It's a good thing that violating journalistic standards of accuracy and credibility are not obstacles to being published, isn't that right, Mr. Steyn and Ms. Savage?

  8. Knowing Parisella, if everything was going swimmingly in Congress, then Obama would get all the credit. The proof is in the pudding, all you'd have to do is look at Parisella's posts back in early 2008 to see how everything was better thanks to Obama.

    Now that the sh*t has hit the fan, suddenly "But to blame the current state of affairs in America, where debate is as polarized as ever, primarily on Obama is exaggerated, inaccurate and misleading".

      • I don't believe for a second that you can pay several hundred thousand to show up in DC for a protest, and yet somehow no Democrat would ever find out. Wow.

        I clicked your link. Funny. GOP operatives are running a secret campaign to kill health care reform

        There's nothing secret about it. They are running a public campaign to kill the Dem's reforms, while proposing some alternatives of their own.

  9. To suggest that the Birther movement has had any impact on American politics whatsoever is ridiculous. Most Republicans would not even know what it is. To call it a movement is ridiculous, it's a very small number of people complaining about a single issue that has gotten no traction in the mainstream whatsoever, and no traction in the Republican party either, and no traction amongst American conservatives.

    Once again, Parisella is attempting to assign blame to Republicans, when it is the Democrats that have had equal control of the senate since 2006 and full control since the beginning of the year (they almost have a super-majority), they've controlled the house since 2006, and the dems have had the presidency since the beginning of this year.

  10. I think one of Parisella's points is perfectly fair: Obama obviously can't be blamed for the economic mess. That problem rests with The Democrat Congress that has been in control since 2006 (let's remember that budgets are set by the Legislative branch – i.e. Congress – not the Executive branch) and with Bush for not taking a hard-line stance against the folly of Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.

    That said, Obama is very much to blame for the polarization of the public. Instead of addressing people's concerns with facts and transparency, he's rushed a controversial stimulus bill through Congress in two days (before letting it sit on his desk for three while he vacationed) and then tried to rush an even more controversial health care bill through Congress in two weeks. This was particularly damning given that (a) Congressmen openly admitted that they expected no chance to read the final bill before voting, and (b) none of the provisions would be enacted before 2012.

    He also bears blame for allowing his media allies and Congressional Democrats to smear concerned Americans as "astroturf", then "teabaggers", and then "racists". This is sort of, how shall we say it, polarizing.

    The vintage Parisella falsehood of the day: " Instead, they have let fear mongering and the Birther movement dominate the opposition to Obama."
    Yep, that 10% of Republicans who support the Birther nonsense (that would be considerably less than the Democrats who support 911 Trutherism, including the recently fired "Green Jobs Czar") now dominate the opposition. Even though no Republican official has supported it.

  11. I think one of Parisella's points is perfectly fair: Obama obviously can't be blamed for the economic mess. That problem rests with The Democrat Congress that has been in control since 2006 (let's remember that budgets are set by the Legislative branch – i.e. Congress – not the Executive branch) and with Bush for not taking a hard-line stance against the folly of Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi. Their mismanagement continues to drag down the recovery however, as <href="http://michaelscomments.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/august-unemployment-data/"&gt; this plot based on their own numbers clearly demonstrates.

    That said, Obama is very much to blame for the polarization of the public. Instead of addressing people's concerns with facts and transparency, he's rushed a controversial stimulus bill through Congress in two days (before letting it sit on his desk for three while he vacationed) and then tried to rush an even more controversial health care bill through Congress in two weeks. This was particularly damning given that (a) Congressmen openly admitted that they expected no chance to read the final bill before voting, and (b) none of the provisions would be enacted before 2012.

    He also bears blame for allowing his media allies and Congressional Democrats to smear concerned Americans as "astroturf", then "teabaggers", and then "racists". This is sort of, how shall we say it, polarizing.

    The vintage Parisella falsehood of the day: " Instead, they have let fear mongering and the Birther movement dominate the opposition to Obama."
    Yep, that 10% of Republicans who support the Birther nonsense (that would be considerably less than the Democrats who support 911 Trutherism, including the recently fired "Green Jobs Czar") now dominate the opposition. Even though no Republican official has supported it.

  12. I think one of Parisella's points is perfectly fair: Obama obviously can't be blamed for the economic mess. That problem rests with The Democrat Congress that has been in control since 2006 (let's remember that budgets are set by the Legislative branch – i.e. Congress – not the Executive branch) and with Bush for not taking a hard-line stance against the folly of Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi. Their mismanagement continues to drag down the recovery however, as this plot based on their own numbers clearly demonstrates.

    That said, Obama is very much to blame for the polarization of the public. Instead of addressing people's concerns with facts and transparency, he's rushed a controversial stimulus bill through Congress in two days (before letting it sit on his desk for three while he vacationed) and then tried to rush an even more controversial health care bill through Congress in two weeks. This was particularly damning given that (a) Congressmen openly admitted that they expected no chance to read the final bill before voting, and (b) none of the provisions would be enacted before 2012.

    He also bears blame for allowing his media allies and Congressional Democrats to smear concerned Americans as "astroturf", then "teabaggers", and then "racists". This is sort of, how shall we say it, polarizing.

    The vintage Parisella falsehood of the day: " Instead, they have let fear mongering and the Birther movement dominate the opposition to Obama."
    Yep, that 10% of Republicans who support the Birther nonsense (that would be considerably less than the Democrats who support 911 Trutherism, including the recently fired "Green Jobs Czar") now dominate the opposition. Even though no Republican official has supported it.

  13. I think one of Parisella's points is perfectly fair: Obama obviously can't be blamed for the economic mess. That problem rests with The Democrat Congress that has been in control since 2006 (let's remember that budgets are set by the Legislative branch – i.e. Congress – not the Executive branch) and with Bush for not taking a hard-line stance against the folly of Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi. Their and Obama's mismanagement continues to drag down the recovery however, as this plot based on their own numbers clearly demonstrates.

    That said, Obama is very much to blame for the polarization of the public. Instead of addressing people's concerns with facts and transparency, he's rushed a controversial stimulus bill through Congress in two days (before letting it sit on his desk for three while he vacationed) and then tried to rush an even more controversial health care bill through Congress in two weeks. This was particularly damning given that (a) Congressmen openly admitted that they expected no chance to read the final bill before voting, and (b) none of the provisions would be enacted before 2012.

    He also bears blame for allowing his media allies and Congressional Democrats to smear concerned Americans as "astroturf", then "teabaggers", and then "racists". This is sort of, how shall we say it, polarizing.

    The vintage Parisella falsehood of the day: " Instead, they have let fear mongering and the Birther movement dominate the opposition to Obama."
    Yep, that 10% of Republicans who support the Birther nonsense (that would be considerably less than the Democrats who support 911 Trutherism, including the recently fired "Green Jobs Czar") now dominate the opposition. Even though no Republican official has supported it.

    • Oh, and a pet peeve of mine. You say: "That problem rests with The Democrat Congress that has been in control since 2006…"

      The adjective is "Democratic", not "Democrat", which is a noun.

      In the last few years, the Republican party made a conscious decision to deliberately use a misnomer for the other party, partly because the word "democratic" polls well with voters and partly as a juvenile attempt to irritate Democrats. This cheesy little tactic went as far as the President, who eventually had to retract his use of the incorrect name in an address to the nation. Even George W. Bush realized that it was beneath an American elected official to employ schoolboy taunts.

      I'm sure it was a typo on your part.

    • Yes, how dare Obama "smear" this honest, spontaneous, grassroots uprising which was totally not coordinated AT ALL. How dare he?

      Uh oh: <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/302196…” target=”_blank”>http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/302196

      Yeah, Obama is the divisive one here. I mean, he used the Teabaggers' own term to identify them, just like they do. How dare he? That is THEIR word. Also: calling out lies like death panels, abortion funding and government-mandated euthanasia is not fair since people *want* to believe such ridiculous things. How else can they justify their anger?

      "The vintage Parisella falsehood of the day: " Instead, they have let fear mongering and the Birther movement dominate the opposition to Obama." "

      Perhaps you could show me where actual policy differences have dominated the debate. I've been watching closely and seeing next to no coherent opposition on a policy basis – it's been all Nazi this and socialism that. I do think Parisella is a little sloppy and uses "Birthers" to describe gullible, misled Americans screaming, crying and bringing guns to townhall meetings. These people don't necessarily believe the birth certificate nonsense, but they share a visceral, irrational and incoherent anger.

      Looking back to policy, here's a Times/CBS poll from late last week:

      "Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

      Favor 65%
      Oppose 26%

      So tell me – in an environment filled with lies and accusations of Nazism, when the basics of the policy are clearly preferred by a majority, who's responsible for the division? The people developing a popular policy or the people organizing waves of of opposition via lies and agitprop?

      • there are other polls showing the public option is opposed by more than 50%. It all depends on the wording. Additionally, once people realize how the public option will be subsidized, and how it will affect the private insurers in the market, then support evaporates.

  14. I was going for style points.

  15. More Obama boot licking from John…what a shock!

    • More shoot-the-messenger aimed at Maclean's bloggers by someone who disagrees with what they say.

      What a shock.

  16. "The nationalization of GM and the bailouts that followed were not the products of Obama promises or policies; they were the result of unregulated markets in which greed overtook prudence, sound business policy, and good judgement."

    Actually, the nationalization of GM and Chrysler were very much Obama's policies. And you're seriously going to try and blame their bankruptcy on unregulated markets? They were bleeding ridiculous amounts of money before the markets ever crashed. The financial crisis just sped up the inevitable.

    • You are right on GM . They were arrogant and deserved to fail .

      • It's an interesting article but I hardly think that the reason the Big Three went under was that they were being gouged by their suppliers. They paid more for labour than their foreign competitors and had a pension model designed for a market where they had an unrealistically high market share. If everyone is gouging you do you really deserve to stay in business?

    • sbt is lying . Nationalization of GM was NOT in his promises. The markets collapsed because of derivatives , sub prime loans , mortgages with down payments , commercial paper. Where do you live sbt?iN A CAVE . EITHER THAT OR YOU ARE LYING AGAIN!!!!!
      The inevitable started under Reagan and continued under Bush.tax cuts for the wealthy ?Explain that as the deficits incresed.

      • "sbt is lying . Nationalization of GM was NOT in his promises"

        I would be lying if I actually said it was one of his promises. But I didn't. I said it was his policy decision to nationalize the automakers. And it was. It's not as if Reagan or Bush forced him to do it. And the markets collapsing only sped up the decline of GM and Chrysler. The American automakers have been a disaster waiting to happen because they were uncompetitive with foreign automakers, largely because they were crushed under the weight of their pension obligations but also because they had poor products for consumers who were looking to buy smaller cars.

        • Again sbt ,you make things up. Why were they not competitive?Because Republicans opposed fr years controls on gas guzzlers. Who opposed Kyoto?Over 1 million jobs would have lost if the US car industry has been closed.Where were the Tea parties and Fox noise?
          STOP making things up!

          • Kyoto and fuel efficiency standards have nothing to do with the automakers failing. The Big Three made cars people didn't want to buy (by choice) and had the legacy of high labour costs along with pension liabilities sunk them. If you insist on blaming the Republicans for Detroit's incompetence then blame free trade which allowed the foreign automakers to compete in the American market and resulted in Americans rejecting the bloated and inefficient Big Three for better run foreign automakers that made better cars.

  17. I won't adress all of the faulty points of the author of this post. I will point out that he fairly represents the views of most of the MSM,

    which by the way is tanking in terms of viewership/readership, ad revenue, and not unrelatedly, credibility.

    There was a time when the media would attempt to hold the government to account, rather than holding its water.

    In other completely unrelated news, Fox News viewership continue to skyrocket.

    • Delusions , delusionsBiff , Fox Noise is comic relief . Obama is over 52% approval and disapproval is at 41%. No one takes them seriously. Who quotes them?They are a RIGHT WING POLITICAL MOVEMENT . Not serious. Racist and fear mongering . CNN is still number 1.

    • "which by the way is tanking in terms of viewership/readership, ad revenue, and not unrelatedly, credibility"

      …and yet, here you are. Have MSM websites become the Williamsburg of the Internet—the place where clever bloggers go when they feel like slumming it?

  18. how is it NOT obama’s responsibility at this point? he’s been in the white house for almost a year. are people still blaming bush??