You can always tell when there’s a midterm or presidential election right around the corner. Many of the usual pests crawl out from the floor-boards and inject themselves into the discourse just long enough to sell a book or release another polemical documentary. Yesterday it was Michael Moore who leaned heavily on the over-worked “Disappointed in Obama” button — the same old narrow-minded whining we’ve heard over and over for the last six years.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about Moore’s Roger & Me, Moore was asked about whether Obama was telling the truth when he said he “saved Detroit.” Of course when the administration uses the phrase “saved Detroit,” it’s referring to the American auto-industry and not the city itself. But of course Moore deliberately took the phrase literally and said:
I wrote him a letter, and I said: Dear President Obama, God bless you, but you did not save Detroit. You saved General Motors. You saved Chrysler.
Well, that’s exactly what it means when referring to “Detroit” in the context of the auto industry — “saving Detroit.” Was he supposed to save the entire city? Is that a president’s job? Of course not, but that’s never stopped Moore and others from ginning up artificially lofty expectations for the Obama presidency. Saving the American auto industry is a massive success, but just because he didn’t save literally the entire city means he’s a big fat disappointment. Why? Because it’s the hip thing to do — to scold the president because he didn’t [fill in the blank] — I don’t know, he didn’t personally invent jetpacks made of bacon. Thanks, Obama. You might’ve rescued the economy from collapsing into a Second Great Depression, but nope, no bacon jetpacks. Disappointing.
It gets worse.
I think Obama sadly has been, you know, has done many, many good things, but he has also been a huge disappointment. And I really feel like — I wish someone would say to him — maybe I’ll say it in case he’s watching. […]
When the history is written of this era, this is how you’ll be remembered: ‘He was the first black president.’ Okay, not a bad accomplishment, but that’s it. That’s it, Mr. Obama. A hundred years from now, ‘he was the first black American that got elected president.’ And that’s it. Eight years of your life and that’s what people are got to remember. Boy, I got a feeling, know you, that you’d probably wish you were remembered for a few other things, a few other things you could’ve done.
You have to hear Moore say this in order to truly appreciate the soupy emo tone of it all.
Just for a second, ignore the questionable nature of saying that we’ll only really remember Obama because of his race. Set that whopper aside and check the glaring contradictions here. Moore just admitted that Obama saved the American auto industry, which is true, and that he’s done “many, many good things,” then offered up the boilerplate “Disappointed in Obama” speech we’ve heard so many times. Now take a look back at the last six years from Moore’s point of view. If you’re Michael Moore, who’s produced movies about healthcare, jobs, outsourcing and Wall Street, then you ought to be thrilled with the fact that Obama:
1) Repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
2) Passed comprehensive healthcare reform, providing among other things government-subsidized, affordable insurance for millions.
3) Expanded Medicaid.
4) Expanded SCHIP, healthcare for children.
5) Passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history as part of the stimulus.
6) Repealed the “Defense of Marriage Act.”
7) Began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
8) Created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, passed Wall Street reform and the “Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act.”
9) Increased fuel efficiency standards.
10) Negotiated a new START Treaty.
11) Reformed the college loan system.
12) Expanded hate crimes laws.
13) Authorized funding for embryonic stem cell research.
14) Appointed more openly gay executive branch officials than any president in history.
15) Presided over the creation of 4.5 million new jobs, while reducing unemployment by nearly four percentage points.
16) Oh, and that little thing we mentioned earlier: passing a stimulus that saved the economy from a Second Great Depression and which helped to trigger the largest expansion in domestic manufacturing in a decade.
That’s just off the top of my head. But Michael Moore is still really, really sad — really, really disappointed in Obama. Why? I don’t think Moore even knows. He’s just disappointed. Probably because he has a completely unrealistic view of what a president in this or any decade can and can’t do. No, Obama was never going to unravel the military-industrial complex, or dismantle the CIA’s Predator Drones, or pass single-payer healthcare. He promised exactly none of these things, so it’s irrational to be disappointed because of something he never promised to do. Along those lines, it’s unrealistic to expect any president to fulfill 100 percent of his promises. It just doesn’t work that way. Ever. So, the sooner Moore and other like-minded progressives accept political reality, the less disappointed they’ll feel. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
Here’s the truly frustrating aspect of this nonsense: as long as trolls like Moore continue to repeat how history will only remember Obama’s race “and nothing else,” there’s a chance it’ll actually be the case. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that’s based solely on Moore’s whimsy and not on actual history. Nevertheless, I suspect we’ll be having this conversation again and again over the next two years, so get ready.