OBAMA AND MONTY PYTHON: WHAT HAS HE EVER DONE FOR US?
The 1979 movie “Life of Brian” featured the Pythons as “Jewish occupy-ees” in the catacombs grouchily debating the merits of Roman rule. The refrain “what have the Romans ever done for us” (soon to be echoed in “what has Obama and his pragmatic progressives done for us?”) is answered by tentative Jewish malcontents under Roman rule in Jerusalem venturing (in very British non Hebrew English): “the aqueduct, sanitation, roads, irrigation, medicine, education, wine, baths, safety to walk the streets, order, Peace”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9foi342LXQE .
The humor is there of course and the “rebel leader” (John Cleese) poses the kinds of arch questions, in a sense that Obama faces from left center and right—especially right! With the healthcare website woes, NSA controversies, and neat year end perceptions of weakness and “Annus Terribilis” the president and his sputtering “change you can believe in” may be being written off as in a what’s he done for us lately second term slump.
It pays to remember some of the following accomplishments—the list is partial—of the past few years. In fact rather than re-invent the wheel, let me list 50 accomplishments cited by Daily Kos blogger “JoelGP” , and then zero in on the most easily defensible ones. Of the list below I have highlighted the most impressive accomplishments in red. A few comments on the most prominent Red Items:
A. Healthcare/ affordable care: whatever the flaws, poison pill conservative amendments to harm the law or capitulate to special interests, whatever the compromises, the law still greatly expands coverage for the formerly uninsurable, for 26 year olds, for many of the 50 million uninsured.
- The Stimulus: The book The New New Dealby Michael Grunwald highlights the potent boost to the economy through infrastructure programs and research initiatives of the 2009 $800 billion stimulus package. Critics have charged that the money was too much, too little (Krugman), contained money benefit special interests (don’t they all!), some waste. But Grunwald stresses that without the stimulus, the economic recovery would have been weaker and many excellent projects untried. As usual, the president gets little credit (except in books like Grunwald’s) for monumental benefits, but the record is there.
- Elimination of Osama bin Ladn- No comment, speaks for itself, many ways to interpret.
- Turned around U.S. Auto industry—there is little dispute about the fact of this, just that there were limits and flaws to the impact it had; its reality and boost for Detroit may have helped in the 2012 election,
- America’s image abroad, has fluctuated with Obama’s Cairo speech, where abroad you are talking about (certainly Africa and for a good while Europe saw large gains), but the overall improvement in American esteem is rarely and weakly disputed, and made easier by the wasteland of American Image left by the Bush administration.
- Federal student loans have surely been improved
- Unconscionable veterans treatment / programs have indeed been improved if not optimized
1. Passed Health Care Reform
2. Passed the Stimulus
3. Passed Wall Street Reform.
4. Ended the War in Iraq
5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan
6. Eliminated Osama bin laden
7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry
8. Recapitalized Banks
9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi
11. Told Mubarak to Go
12. Reversed Bush Torture Policies
13. Improved America’s Image Abroad
14. Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending
15. Created Race to the Top.
16. Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards
17. Coordinated International Response to Financial Crisis
18. Passed Mini Stimuli
19. Began Asia “Pivot”
20. Increased Support for Veterans
21. Tightened Sanctions on Iran
22. Created Conditions to Begin Closing Dirtiest Power Plants
23. Passed Credit Card Reforms
24. Eliminated Catch-22 in Pay Equality Laws
25. Protected Two Liberal Seats on the U.S. Supreme Court
26. Improved Food Safety System.
27. Achieved New START Treaty
28. Expanded National Service: Signed Serve America Act in 2009
29. Expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection.
30. Gave the FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco.
31. Pushed Federal Agencies to Be Green Leaders
32. Passed Fair Sentencing Act
33. Trimmed and Reoriented Missile Defense
34. Began Post-Post-9/11 Military Builddown.
35. Let Space Shuttle Die and Killed Planned Moon Mission
36. Invested Heavily in Renewable Technology.
37. Crafting Next-Generation School Tests.
38. Cracked Down on Bad For-Profit Colleges.
39. Improved School Nutrition.
40. Expanded Hate Crimes Protections.
41. Avoided Scandal.
42. Brokered Agreement for Speedy Compensation to Victims of Gulf Oil Spill.
43. Created Recovery.gov.
44. Pushed Broadband Coverage.
45. Expanded Health Coverage for Children
46. Recognized the Dangers of Carbon Dioxide
47. Expanded Stem Cell Research.
48. Provided Payment to Wronged Minority Farmers.
49. Helped South Sudan Declare Independence.
50. Killed the F-22
Originally published DAILY KOS, JUNE 29, 2013