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Pierce writes: "Almost everyone has had their whack at Thomas Frank's piece in Salon that argues that Barack Obama has been an incompetent, a sellout, or an incompetent sellout."

President Barack Obama. (photo: Getty Images)
President Barack Obama. (photo: Getty Images)

No, Obama Has Not Failed

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

22 July 14


lmost everyone has had their whack at Thomas Frank's piece in Salon that argues that Barack Obama has been an incompetent, a sellout, or an incompetent sellout. Here's Scott at LGM, and here's Kevin Drum, who lands a roundhouse punch at the essential premise. Generally, I agree with these guys. The president's political opposition turned up the pressure to 11 on every institutional choke-point in the American government, and even a few choke-points we didn't know were there. (Backing a lawsuit that trimmed the president's power on recess appointments? Shutting down the government over the ACA? Suing the president now for doing exactly what the opposition has said it wanted to happen ever since the law was passed? Rejecting their own previously held ideas, over and over again?) It's also very hard to argue that the president has shirked his responsibility to do what he must with the powers of his office since he gets called a tyrant every day for issuing executive orders less often than most of his predecessors.

However, on the issue of the economy, and the people who wrecked it and then sold off the pieces, and then, by and large, got away clean, there were some things the president could have done, and didn't do, that lead me to believe that, on this issue, Frank is more right than he is wrong. For example, there was no reason to involve Bob Rubin in the transition team, much less to staff the Treasury Department with Rubin-esque clones. Hell, Tim Geithner didn't have to be Treasury Secretary. There was nothing stopping the president in 2008 from appointing a tough assistant U.S. Attorney to be an assistant secretary of the Treasury tasked with vigorously investigating the causes of the economic meltdown, and whatever crimes were involved therein. The Republicans would have raised hell, but they were going to do that anyway. It's hard to see a Democratic Congress defunding the Treasury Department, but I admit there's no telling what mischief Max Baucus might have concocted. The president faced unprecedented opposition employing unprecedented tactics. However, "looking forward, not back" on many issues was a conscious governing strategy. To say that the president did more than he's given credit for is not to say that he did everything that he could. your social media marketing partner
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