NAVA: Have patience, cut President Obama some slack

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.