Obama’s Successes, And Feeling Good About Them

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Andrew Sullivan has a great blog post today called “Getting Shit Done” where he outlines Obama’s successes on BP, Iran, DADT, and the economy. Sullivan praises “Obama’s incrementalism,”

his refusal to pose as a presidential magician, and his resistance to taking the bait of the fetid right (he’s president – not a cable news host) seems to me to show not weakness, but a lethal and patient strength. And a resilient ambition.

E.J. Dionne comes at this same idea from a different angle in his column today:

A weird malaise is haunting the Democratic Party.

That’s a risky word to use, I know. It’s freighted with bad history and carries unfortunate implications. So let’s be clear: President Obama is not Jimmy Carter, not even close. And Obama’s speech on Tuesday was nothing like Carter’s 1979 “malaise speech,” in which Carter never actually used that word. Obama gave a good and sensible speech that was not a home run.

What’s odd is that Obama was seen as needing a home run. This is where the Democratic malaise comes in.

Democrats should feel a lot better than they do. They enacted a health-care bill that had been their dream for more than 60 years. They pulled the country out of a terrifying economic spiral. They are on the verge of passing the biggest reform of Wall Street since the New Deal. The public has identified enemies that are typically seen as Republican allies: oil companies and big bankers. And given the Republicans’ past policies, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is at least as much their problem as Obama’s.

On top of this, the GOP seems to be doing all it can to make itself unelectable, veering far to the right and embracing a Tea Party movement that, at its extremes, preaches the need for revolution. That sounds more like the old New Left than a reinvigorated conservatism. Oh, yes, and can you think of one thing Republicans stand for right now other than cutting spending? Never mind that they are conspicuously vague about what they’d cut.

Yet it is Democrats who are petrified, uncertain and hesitant — and this was true before the oil spill made matters worse. Obama’s bold rhetoric about “the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels” was not matched by specifics because he knows that nearly a dozen Senate Democrats are skittish about acting. Why does it so often seem that Republicans are full of passionate intensity while Democrats lack all conviction?