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Eff off, Frank Rich, You Pusillanimous Moron

This is a rant about the rants.

Today, Frank Rich lets loose another tirade against President Obama. Among the commentariat of the Left, penning an anti-Obama tirade is all the rage — Paul Krugman, Arianna Huffington, and others have all become expert practitioners at this craft.

I don’t get it. Even if you assume their attacks have merit (and I don’t think that they have any) I don’t see what good they do. It’s bogus, and stupid.

Given everything Obama has had to face — foremost among the many pressing crises, a devastating economic collapse — he’s done a damned good job. He got Congress to pass the biggest fiscal stimulus since the 1930s. His Treasury Department undertook sensible, prudent efforts to manage the banking meltdown (and showed guts not to listen to the hand-wringers calling for nationalization like Paul Krugman). History will show both of those moves plus action by the Fed probably staved off a Great Depression II.

He’s unleashed a slate of smaller bore efforts — projects on green technology in the Energy Department, and the “Race to the Top” initiative from the Education Department — that are both real, substantive, truly progressive and full of positive longer-term impact.

Through persistence and patience, he got the Senate and the House to pass — for the first time, ever, in our country’s history — comprehensive health care reform legislation. That obviously isn’t done yet, new hurdles have been put in the way — but really, what President has done more to get this passed since FDR?

And, not all all unimportantly, he’s completely changed our military and foreign policy. His decision on Afghanistan may obscure this for some, but the place and role of America in the world is completely different than it was 13 months ago.

The most common complaint I hear about Obama from friends (who support him) is “He hasn’t done enough.” Or  “He can’t get stuff done.” Despite the list above, which is hardly comprehensive. I think what’s happening in part is that everyone assumed the election would be the hard part, that the rest would be a cakewalk. That with 59 or 60 Senators and a strong majority in the House that Obama could just proclaim change and that it would happen. And that the country would feel blessed.

People who are adults, with any sense of history or perspective, know this just isn’t the way the world or our country works. The fight continues, always. You pick a team, stay loyal to it, and work through your personal disappointments if you want to try to accomplish something.

Republicans are real good at this. Sadly, too many Democrats and their supporters like Frank Rich suck at it. And that’s what will bring down President Obama — not some conspiracy from the Right. Too bad, you have only yourselves to blame.

UPDATE: Two things I should have added to the list — the auto company bailout last year (an incredible success given the daunting challenges) and the new bank regulations proposed by Obama this past week. Good coverage on the latter here from Daniel Gross on Slate.

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3 thoughts on “Eff off, Frank Rich, You Pusillanimous Moron

  1. Ummm…. let’s just say that, since the conclusions you use to buttress your arguments are open to varying interpretations, REGARDLESS of one’s political orientation, that the headline is, politely put, histrionic, misanthropic bloviation. I’m as much a fan of a good rant as anyone, and think that your preface of “This is a rant about rants” got things off to a very good start. But a good rant should do as much to lead along the as-yet-uncommitted reader as to rallying the True Believers around a Cause, and in that I expect that you’ve failed rather spectacularly. It did not help that the particular Frank Rich piece you linked to read, to this somewhat-left-of-center reader, as much as a mea culpa as an “omigosh, we’ve got to straighten up and fly right RIGHT EFFING NOW” piece.

    The really sad part of this? Re-reading your piece, and then Rich’s, I get the distinct impression that you agree with him entirely on the political and actual realities of the situation – Obama IS constrained. He can’t instantly (or even substantially) please both the “change NOW” folks who naively think he just has to wave his magic wand. Likewise, he has to tread carefully if he’s going to accomplish anything in the face of a solidly entrenched, spectacularly well-funded and -organized status quo (which has *always* had the real power). If and as he accomplishes anything of substance – anything at all that will be remembered 20 years from now – THAT would be a major accomplishment. He was elected – and I voted for him, too – on a national rant: “Change NOW, because we hate what this country is turning into.” But now, we – and he – have to deal with things as they are. He’s not made any visible progress on the one issue that I really hoped he would. But I understand that his plate is more full than most people can understand. And even though “my” issue is important to me and millions of others, there are other issues that are more important to more millions, and those other issues are both more open to reasoned compromise and less psychologically threatening to the (powerful, organized, monied) status quo. So, from a purely tactical perspective, the relative priorities are obvious.

    So I still have hope. I also pray every day that nothing will happen to this President, because I very much fear that Biden is to Obama what LBJ was to JFK – if not Cheney to Bush 43: the guardian of the status quo and monied interests, so that the “top guy” could be as publicly opinionated and populist and larger-than-life as he chose, while those who “really mattered” would rest assure that nothing would get too terribly far out of hand (as far as their interests were concerned).

    God save the United States of America. It’s damned well obvious by now that the corporations – or those who benefit from them – won’t lift a finger.

    • What a nice, good, long comment.

      My main issue with Rich is his tactics. In his last 4-5 columns, he’s veered into the realm of personal character attacks on Obama. That Obama doesn’t have the guts to stand up to the monied interests, and that he’s allowed those interests to control his economic team (Geithner, Summers) and his agenda.

      I think he’s wrong on the substance. And, I think his way of going about it is counter-productive, and puerile. The equivalent, if you will, of Hillary’s “It’s 3AM” ad.

      • Thanks. I can see your point – looking at a longer history, it’s trivially easy to argue that he’s taken a very slanted, selective viewpoint, especially wrt Obama.

        I also happen to believe that Obama needs to (re)gain control of his agenda and his public message, and show the public at large that he is about substantial change to the existing power structure, not just talk. Because the existing power structure has shown for decades now that it can tolerate, even encourage, politicians with a “populist” message. But those that try too hard to turn that message into action, into real change, might as well have hit a steel wall at hypersonic speed – not a very comfortable experience.

        I think that if Obama does all this, he won’t have to worry about the Frank Riches of the world – or about re-election – very much at all. He’ll have the bully pulpit, the big stick to whack Congress with to get his policies and initiatives implemented. But until and unless he gets our house in order, Frank Rich is going to be the least of his problems. And that should worry just about anyone who cares about the country – left, right or topsy-turvy.

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