The truth is that these days much of the commentary you see on the Obama administration — and a lot of the reporting too — emphasizes the negative: the contrast between the extravagant hopes of 2008 and the prosaic realities of political trench warfare, the troubles at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the mess in Iraq, and so on. The accepted thing, it seems, is to portray Mr. Obama as floundering, his presidency as troubled if not failed.
But this is all wrong. You should judge leaders by their achievements, not their press, and in terms of policy substance Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction.Let's start with those "extravagant hopes," which Krugman forgets were foisted upon the electorate by the candidate himself. For a full tally of the president's early broken promises and outright lies, please refer to the "Obama Scandals List". It's old, but I keep it on my Blog Roll because it's unrevised history, and therefore extremely valuable for those of us who are picky about such things. There is that little extravagant matter of the promise of a public option for health care, for instance.
And then Krugman brushes aside the "troubles" at the V.A. as though they were pesky Republican mosquitoes and not a humanitarian crisis, and the "mess" in Iraq as if thousands of innocent people haven't been killed..... and so on and so forth. Because, America, this promises to be not only a Sinatra-like very good year for America, but a seriously good year for Obama. Well, at least the good professor is honest when he says 2014 will be the year the country took a major turn in the right (as opposed to left) direction.
As I began in my uncharacteristicly bilious published NYT comment: "So, seriously, Candide, as long as Obama is having a seriously good year, who are you to complain? It's all for the best in the best of all possible worlds."
The Krugglossianism continues,
First, health reform is now a reality — and despite a shambolic start, it’s looking like a big success story. Remember how nobody was going to sign up? First-year enrollments came in above projections. Remember how people who signed up weren’t actually going to pay their premiums? The vast majority have.Not half an hour before Krugman's column appeared, his newspaper's website published an article by Robert Pear, describing how hundreds of thousands of Obamacare subscribers have received notices informing them that their documented proof to qualify for government subsidies is lacking or faulty. And that they might owe the government money as a result. The clawbacks and the bait and switch surprises are coming even earlier than expected. Fully one quarter of the eight million newly-insured might be on the hook for an average of $4,000 come tax time next year if they can't prove their worthiness to the Market God. They may be joining the estimated 30 million Americans who will remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act. Krugman forgets about them, too. But his column forges on:
Then there’s climate policy. The Obama administration’s new rules on power plants won’t be enough in themselves to save the planet, but they’re a real start — and are by far the most important environmental initiative since the Clean Air Act. I’d add that this is an issue on which Mr. Obama is showing some real passion.As long as there's vocal passion, then the coughing, the wheezing, the chest pains, the pollution will fade in comparison to Obama's soaring oratory. As I mentioned in my Times comment, while the carbon emissions rules are a good start, they're largely aspirational and rely over-much on the ephemeral good intentions of individual states. And, of course, it ultimately hinges on the Market God, whose dire rumblings cannot be ignored by politicians sensitive to them. And then there are the other major pollutants getting a free pass from the passionate Mr. Obama. You may remember the ozone rules he scrapped a few years ago to shore up his re-election chances in the heartland. so as not to rattle the "confidence" of polluters. Unhealthy, man-made levels of ozone are still causing thousands of pragmatic asthma attacks in children while environmental groups are suing Obama in federal court.
Meanwhile, DeSmogBlog reports that Obama is "quietly coddling Big Oil on bomb train regulations." You know.... that highly flammable Bakken crude hurtling down a railroad track near you.
|Oil Train Explosion, Lynchburg, VA (DeSmogBlog)|
And then there's his embrace of the fracking industry and deepwater drilling. (Just days before he made his carbon emissions announcement, his administration awarded ExxonMobil a brand new Gulf of Mexico drilling lease.) No need, either, to disclose all those chemicals being injected into the earth, poisoning our drinking water. The passionate president is confident that Halliburton has the public health as its highest priority.
Sorry, Doctor Pangloss. That glass is not only not half-full -- it's toxic.
And last but not least, Krugman turns to financial deform:
Oh, and financial reform, although it’s much weaker than it should have been, is real — just ask all those Wall Street types who, enraged by the new limits on their wheeling and dealing, have turned their backs on the Democrats.Krugman is being far from candid here. Wall Street types may howl in public about criticism thrown their way by Democrats pretending to be for the little guy, but they continue throwing money at Democratic politicians only too happy to do their bidding and take their bribes. Even the toothless bill that is Dodd-Frank is being delayed and defanged (or should I say de-gummed?) For a more honest overview than Krugman is willing to give, there's the recent Bill Moyers interview with Stanford economist Anat Admati, author of "The Banker's New Clothes." I also recommend Ryan Grim's article on how even a good chunk of the "progressive" Congressional Black Caucus is now in the pocket of Wall Street.
Krugman concludes with some criticism of Bowles-Simpson centrists without even acknowledging that Obama himself is a centrist (aka "New Democrat") who appointed their pro-plutocracy cat food commission.
So what the hell is in Krugman's pocket? I wouldn't be surprised if it was a souvenir from the "polish it yourself" bowl of apples that Obama keeps in the Oval Office.