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Why is President Obama a Historic Success
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2014-10-30 11:52:03
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In the October 23, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone magazine there is a very insightful article by Paul Krugman titled “In Defense of Obama.” Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner for Economics, a Professor at Princeton University and an opinion writer for The New York Times. I recommend the article to all those who may have been persuaded by the vicious scorched-earth and unilaterally biased Republican opposition to this president from day one of his presidency. Those with a closed mind need not apply. Nothing will persuade them. They now go around blaming Obama for just about anything that goes wrong in this country, challenging even his legitimacy. They never give him any credit for anything and now, the latest absurdity, go around blaming Ebola on him. I am almost convinced that such kind of unusual disrespect for the man and his office is based on a veiled and unacknowledged latent racism as much as ideological fanaticism.

Here I will merely survey briefly the article trusting that the reader will then be motivated enough to read the whole. Krugman begins with a brief introduction and then surveys and professionally and competently assesses the performance of the present President in six crucial political areas: health care, financial reform, the economy, the environment, national security, and social change. In all those areas he finds Obama’s performance way above average, in fact superior, to the point that when he compares him to other presidents he does not hesitate to declare him one of the best presidents the country has ever had.

On health care he writes that “Obamacare means a huge improvement in the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans,” in fact, “a major policy success story” and he provided ample evidence and documentation. He points out that the ferocious attacks of the Republicans against it is based on an understanding that once a social system is put in place, it will prove hard to undo, since most voters will then have a stake in it. That is what has in fact happened and it has made America a better place.


On financial reform, despite the fact that the crackdown on Wall Street (largely responsible for the great recession) never occurred, the Dodd-Frank bill for financial reform, has, according to Krugman, made it much harder for such an event to be repeated. While Krugman does not think that it went far enough, he finds it much better than nothing. There are now in place real regulations. Wall Street and the 1% of the rich who owe more than 50% of the country’s wealth do not like it a bit as proven by the fact that the major beneficiaries of Wall Street’s campaign contributions from Wall Street is now the Republican party.

On the economy, Krugman’s own field and expertise, he declares that “an overwhelming consensus among economists says that Obama’s stimulus plan helped revive the economy.” This despite the obstacles put in its way regularly by the Republicans. Krugman affirms that such a form of distributive justice was also beneficial to the country as a whole as proven by the fact that the American economy has fared much better than that of all the other advanced industrialized economies of the world.

On the environment, Krugman finds Obama’s initiatives and contributions to the solution of the problem far from trivial. He says that “there has been much more progress on the use of renewable energy than most people realize, with federal policies, including loan guarantees and tax credits, playing an important role.


On National Security, here too although those who initiated the Iraq war on false pretenses were never brought to justice, nevertheless Obama has been “a normal post-Vietnam president, reluctant to commit U.S. ground troops and eager to extract them from ongoing commitments.” Krugman finds that “a huge improvement over what came before and what would have happened if John McCain or Mitt Romney had won.”


On social change, although Krugman finds Obama more of a follower than a leader on social issues but he certainly has not impeded the country’s new open-mindness on gay rights.


In conclusion, Krugman states that while it is true that Obama has delivered less than his supporters wanted, it is also true that it is much more than his detractors acknowledge. So his presidency appears to be at least a partial success. At the very least President Obama, playing with the cards he was dealt by the previous administration did manage to mitigate its worst effects. Krugman states that “this is what a successful president looks like…I don’t care about the fact that Obama hasn’t lived up to the golden dream of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot.”


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Mirella Ionta2014-11-02 22:18:11
"This is what a successful president looks like…I don’t care about the fact that Obama hasn’t lived up to the golden dream of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot.” Unfortunately in Canada, we do not really hear of Obama's achievements. Media here seems to present him as an ineffective American president. We often hear of his failures more than his successes. We hear that Americans are very bothered by the fact that he may not have been born in the U.S. Every time I met an American during my travels, they would bash Obama any time they get the chance, claiming he is "all talk" and that he is slow to react to international conflicts. For instance, people are saying that it is very untypical for the U.S. to have not challenged Russia when Russia was invading and while Russia is occupying Ukraine. People say Russian occupation of Ukraine was made and is possible because America has a weak president with a soft foreign policy. Russia has no reason to fear being challenged for its usual tendency to dominate.

Emanuel Paparella2014-12-04 03:30:52
Donald Trump in fact is still convinced that President Obama was born in Africa someplace. It is unfortunate Ms. Ionta that you only seem to have met Americans who are proud of their ignorance. Paul Krugman is a Nobel prize winner in economics. Perhaps we ought to consider his word more valuable than that of a Donald Trump and his cohorts.

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