Skip to main content

Andrew Sullivan on the Republicans and Obama


"If a black Republican president had come in, helped turn around the banking and auto industries (at a small profit!), insured millions through the private sector while cutting Medicare, overseen a sharp decline in illegal immigration, ramped up the war in Afghanistan, reinstituted pay-as-you go in the Congress, set up a debt commission to offer hard choices for future debt reduction, and seen private sector job growth outstrip the public sector's in a slow but dogged recovery, somehow I don't think that Republican would be regarded as a socialist."

Given the Clinton nostalgia we've seen from some quarters of the right in recent years, I predict that Obama's presidency will be seen as "the good old days" by Republicans in about 15 years.

* My Andrew Sullivan boycott remains in effect. Stuff still bubbles up to me, though, and I'm not going to pretend I don't see it.


Ben said…
Your boycott would be stronger if you didn't discuss Sullivan at all.

The problem with Sullivan's formulation here is he sugarcoats the facts.

1) "...helped turn around the banking and auto industries..."

Bush and Obama nationalized dozens of banks and Obama nationalized two auto companies. It may have been temporary, but that's what they did. In the process of nationalizing GM and Chrysler, Obama's administration denied bondholders their legal recompense while enriching members of a favored constituency -- the United Autoworkers of America.

2) "...insured millions through the private sector while cutting Medicare..."

Overstatement. Some provisions of the law went into effect in September. It's more accurate to say millions of Americans have had their insurance policies changed by government mandate. What Sullivan neglects to mention, of course, is the pernicious effects of the law and the administration's tendency to grant waivers to favored corporations.

3) "...overseen a sharp decline in illegal immigration..."

This one made me laugh out loud, actually. Illegal immigration is down, alright. Quite coincidentally, the nation's unemployment rate is stuck around 9.6 percent and the economy is recovering glacially from a recession that ended in June 2009.

4) "...ramped up the war in Afghanistan..."

I think we've done a column or two about this.

5) "...reinstituted pay-as-you-go in the Congress..."

And simultaneously raised the debt ceiling. (This is a bipartisan affliction, as you know, and it will be worth watching the new Republicans very carefully on this front.)

6) "...set up a debt commission..."

Commission!? Commission!? The commission is a joke. The hard choices will be a VAT or higher income taxes or a VAT and higher income taxes. Maybe some superficial spending cuts and a nod toward greater transparency. Tax cuts? Forget it.

7) "...seen private sector job growth outstrip the public sector's in a slow but dogged recovery..."

Partly true, although one man's "dogged recovery" is another's "tepid recovery." The latest survey from the Labor Department shows most of the new jobs are in temporary work, retail sales and health care. The sectors hardest hit by the recession -- construction and manufacturing -- haven't moved much. I look at these data and the relatively flat unemployment rate and reflect on all of the stories in 2004 and 2005 about George W. Bush's "jobless recovery" when unemployment was still at historic lows. This is what a real jobless recovery looks like.
Ben said…
I may have to amend my comments on the debt commission.

Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…