Andrew Sullivan has long urged progressives and the Left to cut Obama some slack when it comes to confronting the increasingly nihilistic GOP, arguing that the President is engaged in a tactical endurance match, not a sprint. He writes:
They keep arguing that the president who killed bin Laden, prevented a Second Great Depression and achieved universal healthcare in his first term is somehow another Jimmy Carter. But of course he isn’t. And of course he understands the political dynamic out there. He just knows that the one thing the far right wants – and needs – to do is get into a fight with him, elevating them, dimnishing him, and alienating the middle of the American electorate. His approach is the classic civil rights movement approach with a black leader addressing a largely white electorate: non-violence, reasoned argument.
I have been extremely frustrated with Obama on many issues, but given I have the luxury of not dealing with a completely dysfunctional political system and insane opposition party, I recognize Obama is most likely doing the best he can. It is true that the entire political process in America is broken, but while grassroots movements organize and strategize on the outside, someone has to prevent another George Bush from getting into the White House again. Whether you like him or not, it is hard to fault Obama’s general demeanor when approaching politics. He is dignified, reasoned and always ready to compromise. The moment he shows anger, the Republicans get to paint him as an ‘angry black man’ and engage in the racial politics they so clearly relish. But Obama hasn’t let them despite overwhelming pressure that would have broken lesser politicians. It is hard to tell who is winning the long game, and maybe Obama will have given up so much ground that his strategy would not have made a difference anyway. But it is the best we’ve got inside the system, and maybe, just maybe, it will work.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.