THE CASE FOR OBAMA AND AGAINST ROMNEY

I have already issued my own endorsement of Barack Obama for re-election. To most people my arguments may not carry much weight. After all I am a blogger, a Johnny-come-lately blogger at that, who does not enjoy  a national forum.

Today I have read essays from New York Magazine, one a ringing endorsement of Obama, even calling him a “great President” and in turn a stinging rebuke of Romney and his fantasy campaign.

Jonathan Chait is the author of both these pieces. In The Case for Obama: Why He Is a Great President. Yes, Great., http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/10/barack-obama-is-a-great-president-yes-great.html,  he begins thusly:

I decided to support Barack Obama pretty early in the Democratic primary, around spring of 2007. But unlike so many of his supporters, I never experienced a kind of emotional response to his candidacy. I never felt his election would change everything about American politics or government, that it would lead us out of the darkness. Nothing Obama did or said ever made me well up with tears.

Possibly for that same reason, I have never felt even a bit of the crushing sense of disappointment that at various times has enveloped so many Obama voters. I supported Obama because I judged him to have a keen analytical mind, grasping both the possibilities and the limits of activist government, and possessed of excellent communicative talents. I thought he would nudge government policy in an incrementally better direction. I consider his presidency an overwhelming success.  

Chait proceeds to examine the list of legislative achievements attributible to Obama and does so in the context of both inherited near financial apocalypse as well as Republican irrational opposition.

Since “it is the economy, stupid” Chait takes this broad view of Obama’s accomplishments.

This panic has impeded Obama’s recovery measures. But the fact remains that, by the standards of a financial crisis, the United States suffered through a relatively shallow trough and has enjoyed a fairly rapid recovery. (Here is a chart laying out the comparison between the United States and other comparably afflicted economies.) Obama managed to stabilize the financial system and, through the stimulus, avert a total collapse in consumer demand

While noting there is always a degree of partisanship extant in the capital

…What makes the Republican opposition different is that it rests upon a novel, and probably true, insight. Most Americans pay little attention to the details of policy. They rely upon a broad heuristic — if something has touched off an ugly and protracted battle, it is probably bad, but if both sides agree on it, it is probably good. Even many Sunday political talk-show chatterers and other blowhards use the same basic thought process. And so, as McConnell actually said out loud, “if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.” McConnell, in keeping with his Bond-villain habit of boasting openly about his nefarious intentions, actually announced in a prepared speech that his top political priority was to make Obama a one-term president.

.There is much more but the conclusion is

What can be said without equivocation is that Obama has proven himself morally, intellectually, temperamentally, and strategically. In my lifetime, or my parents’, he is easily the best president. On his own terms, and not merely as a contrast to an unacceptable alternative, he overwhelmingly deserves reelection.

In The Case Against Romney: At Heart, He’s a Delusional One-Percenter http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/10/case-against-romney.html  Chait maintains the theme that Romney offers fantasy, not reality, that fully reflects Romney’s skewed vision as the one-percenter he is.

This is an assessment of what appears to be Romney’s approach:

Some version of Romney’s own fantasy — that, once in office, he will craft sensible and data-driven, and perhaps even bipartisan, solutions to our problems — surely accounts for his political resurrection. Starting with the transformative first presidential debate, Romney has wafted the sweet, nostalgic scent of moderate Republicanism into the air. Might he offer the sort of pragmatic leadership that was the hallmark of his party in a bygone era — a George H.W. Bush, a second-term Reagan, an Eisenhower, a Nixon minus the criminal paranoia? Some moderates supporting him, like reformist conservative Ross Douthat or the Des Moines Register editorial board, have filled the many voids of Romney’s program with some version of this fantasy. It is an attractive scenario to many, and one worth considering seriously.

Chait immediately debunks this “fantasy”.

This hopeful vision immediately runs into a wall of deductive logic. If Romney were truly planning to govern from the center, why would he leave himself so exposed to Obama’s attacks that he is a plutocrat peddling warmed-over Bushonomics? The election offers Romney his moment of maximal leverage over his party’s right-wing base. If he actually wanted to cut a budget deal along the lines of Bowles-Simpson, or replace Dodd-Frank with some other way of preventing the next financial crisis, or replace Obamacare with some other plan to cover the uninsured, there would be no better time to announce it than now, when he could sorely use some hard evidence of his moderation. He has not done so — either because he does not want to or because he fears a revolt by the Republican base. But if he fears such a revolt now, when his base has no recourse but to withhold support and reelect Obama, he will also fear it once in office, when conservatives could oppose him without making their worst political nightmare come true as a result.

In succeeding paragraphs Chait cites Ayn Rand influences on the Republican Party and its seeming desire to let the poor remain that way while embracing tried and false economic themes that aim to let the rich remain that way, unencumbered by any responsibility for anyone save their extremely tiny niche.

All this leading to this capsule critique of the challenger.

Seen in this light, Romney’s belief in himself as a just and deserving leader is not merely a form of personal ambition free of ideological content. His faith in himself blends seamlessly into a faith in his fellow Übermenschen — the Job Creators who make our country go, who surround him and whose views shaped his program. To think of Romney as torn between two poles, then, is a mistake. Both his fealty to his party and his belief in his own abilities point in the same direction: the entitlement of the superrich to govern the country.

I myself could take issue with some of the generalizations in both essays but, on balance there is little substance to dispute.

Again, vote for Obama.

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