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NAVA: Have patience, cut President Obama some slack

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Today is report card day for President Barack Obama.

Voting Americans will either fire or hire members of his distressed party as a putative referendum of Obama’s performance. If the predictions of the hostile news media are right, this is going to be a Democratic exodus like no other.

But the president shouldn’t take the heat. We’re judging him too soon.

The historic achievement of a biracial man’s election after eight years of dissatisfaction inflated expectations that change should come as quickly as Apple’s next iPhone.

However, lasting political progress comes at dial-up pace. Just think of AOL during the ’90s.

Obama is schlepping a ton of baggage from his predecessor. There is wisdom in Bill Clinton’s midterm refrain: “It took eight years to dig the hole we’re in now, and we’re not going to get out in two.”

Congress and the president have made difficult decisions that enacted deep, structural changes to our government and society. These changes may not confer noticeable benefits until many years down the road.

Be of semi-good cheer. Better days are certainly ahead.

Health care reform, stricter laws regulating Wall Street, clean energy and investments in education at all levels require time and patience.

Even the economy has shown recent signs of resurrection. We are, after all, factually no longer in a recession. But we undoubtedly are still feeling the sting of several seasons of job cuts and tight credit markets.

Nevertheless, patience and measured expectations ought to be our new American virtues, especially after impatience and excess damaged our housing and financial markets.

Even an evaluation of the short-term should please the progressive or moderate college student.

A successful auto bailout promises better economic times for Midwestern industries linked to Detroit. That’s heavenly news to many Wisconsin businesses.

More money than ever before is funding clean energy research, including initiatives at our very own College of Engineering.

Deserving students can enjoy a more efficient federal financial aid system with 820,000 more grants and expanded support for Pell Grant recipients.

Those struggling with debt have newly enacted protections against predatory credit card practices. Our ability to pay off consumer debt just got easier.

Even the behemoth health care package assures immediate graces. Patients with pre-existing health conditions can receive coverage without reprisal. And your parents can insure you while you study hard in college.

Kudos, Mr. President.

This is the stuff that makes the history books, but opinion leaders all throughout the media are maligning the president for doing too little (or too much, if you watch Fox News).

I think this is a desperate effort to fill a 24-hour news cycle with hot air. Take it from me: It’s easier to write a complaint than a compliment in a column. Mourners are always louder than admirers.

Besides obnoxious commentators, be wary of racist propaganda that has recently disguised itself as patriotism. Do you find it disturbing when armed, southern white men assemble outdoors and claim they “want their country back?”

These are do-or-die times when making tough decisions produces even tougher enemies. But the fundamental question is this: In a sinking ship, do you really think it’s productive to throw deckchairs at the captain? Might there be a way that we – Democrats and Republicans – work together to save our imperiled vessel?

Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship certainly needs improvement. He’ll have plenty of political issues ahead to ease tensions in both parties. Immigration, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel-Palestine, Gitmo and, of course, the economy can be opportunities to end the rancor.

We are about to witness a referendum. I only hope it’s a referendum of the American electorate to exercise patience and stay the course.

“Give change a chance” is the mantra of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. While you’re at it, give the president a break.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “NAVA: Have patience, cut President Obama some slack”

  1. Paul on November 2nd, 2010 4:27 pm

    Terrific article, Mr. Nava. Very insightful and concise. If indeed the electorate does not exercise patience, the light will then be shone on the continued obstruction of the Republicans. (And yes, I’m a proud Democrat after being an Independent for many years).

    The teabag crowd will be betrayed by their extreme candidates, who will be wholly-owned subsidiaries of their corporate owners who fund them now. (Thanks to the Citizens United decision. How’s that for “activist” judges?).

    Americans will see jus how destructive the anti’s are. Do people really want to see endless investigations, per Rep. Dan Issa, R-CA, instead of seeing measures to improve our economy?

    What’s lost today will be gained–and then some–in 2012. As you said, Mr. Nava, just look at all this President has done!

    I urge people to ‘Google’ two sites: 1) politifact.com has an ‘Obameter’ which shows all th progress made to-date; 2) Talking Points Memo (TPM) has a piece on the 90 accomplishments of President Obama that have NOT been covered by the mainstream media. And that was in January 2009.

    Paul
    Arts ’79

  2. MA '98 on November 7th, 2010 11:39 am

    “Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship certainly needs improvement”

    Indeed he does. He can begin by not calling his political opponents “enemies of the nation”.

  3. Ian Stewart on November 11th, 2010 11:44 am

    MA ’98, you could begin by not misquoting the President. He didn’t call Republicans “enemies of the nation”, he was speaking in a purely political context and described the GOP as his “enemies” in this election. Perhaps you are confused with Republican Congressman Trent Franks, who called Obama “an enemy of humanity.”
    Here are some other things Republicans have had to say about Obama:
    -Former Rep. Tom Tancredo called Obama “a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda”
    -Palin said during the campaign that Obama is “palling around with terrorists.”
    -Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said she was “very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views.”
    -Senator Jim Demint compared Obama to Hitler and Hugo Chavez
    -Few prominent Republicans will openly repudiate (or as Palin would say, ‘refudiate’) the claim that Obama is not an American citizen (Sen. Shelby :“Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.”)
    -Paul Broun called Obama a Marxist and compared him on numerous occasions to Hitler

    Based on your wildly exaggerated claim I doubt you actually follow policy, but if you took a break from watching Glenn Beck and actually learned the facts you would realize Obama has consistently reached out to Republicans. Every single major policy Obama has signed has included many Republican ideas. The health care plan is nearly identical to what Romney implemented in Massachusetts and similar to what Bob Dole campaigned on in ’96. Further, it included over 200 Republican amendments. The GOP was open about its unwillingness to compromise on HCR, describing their plan to block health care no matter what so it could serve as Obama’s “Waterloo.” Considering their obstructionism they’re lucky they got as moderate a bill as they did.
    The stimulus, Obama’s second major accomplishment of his first two years, was also compromised. More money went to tax cuts than infrastructure spending (despite the fact that every serious economists will tell you that during a recession tax cuts are just going to be saved and do very little to actually stimulate the economy). The size of the stimulus was significantly smaller than ideal, another tragic consequence of Obama’s desire to compromise with a party that has no interest in actually governing.
    Just because a bill doesn’t get bipartisan votes doesn’t mean it’s not bipartisan, especially when one party makes the political decision to oppose anything the other party supports regardless of the bill’s content or merit.
    Obama’s problem is that he has tried too hard to compromise and watered down his policies to the point of making them less effective and thus less popular with voters.

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