Monday, December 21, 2009

Why my respect for Obama has grown, not ebbed, over his first year in office

As 2009 closes, I think I'm the only self-described progressive I know whose respect for Obama has, in a sense, grown over the first year of his office—if only because I never expected him to magically make everything better. 

He came into the job clearly defining himself as post-partisan by preference, pragmatic by nature, and focused on the long-term good of the nation (and, I might add, the world) over short-term political victories. 

Since then, he's taken a fusillade major hits, first from the right and more recently from the left—yet generally maintained composure and a clarity of purpose. 

Undoubtedly, he has been disappointing on a range of issues, first and foremost the failure to stem the bloody and costly wars in which we remain entrenched, but also on Guantanamo, intelligence transparency, LGBT rights, among other matters. In 2010, now that the economy has somewhat stabilized and his signature domestic policy item, healthcare reform, is moving ahead, he has to return to other things he committed to change, and follow through on his promises.

But I don't think Obama has gotten the full credit he deserves for the really enormous things he's accomplished in his first year to date: The stimulus and bank bailout, which almost certainly saved us from total financial meltdown; refocusing U.S. attention on the environment and preserving and advancing global dialogue towards a deal on climate change; and yes, a healthcare reform act that, while far less than we wanted, is far more than we could have expected a decade ago—and that I firmly believe will only get better. 

He took on the presidency of a nation in near economic collapse, simultaneously fighting wars on multiple fronts, facing threats of pandemic illness and domestic terrorism, and while his results have been mixed, I think he has demonstrated the willingness and ability to thoughtfully adapt—and I believe that the years to come will be evidence of what he's learned from his mistakes and successes alike. 

Simply put, I'm proud Barack Obama is our president, and remain firm in the belief that history will judge him kindly—far more kindly, it's sad to say, than have many of the people who helped get him elected.

Posted via email from OriginalSpin

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