One thing I've always appreciated about "no drama Obama" has been his fairmindedness and apparent unwillingness to go on the offensive. He has often been able to rise above the unseemly attacks that characterize partisan politics. Tonight, while I would never want the president to engage in Rove-esque tactics (personal attacks, lies, dirty politics), I'd like to see him stand up more stridently for justice.
Unlike many of Obama's other supporters, I didn't see the early October debate as a disaster, but it was clearly a missed opportunity. The president didn't call Romney out on his fuzzy math, his lack of a concrete plan for the revenue shortfall that's bound to occur when the Republicans cut taxes for the wealthy, or his proposed future cuts to Medicare.
I hope Obama brings those points home tonight. As the Washington Post said on Saturday, the stakes are high:
The pressure is squarely on the president Tuesday night, given his performance in Denver. But Romney, too, needs a strong evening to cement the first. He cannot afford any backsliding. His advisers know that if, as expected, the president does a better job Tuesday, stories will inevitable be written about his bounce-back. No one expects a second mismatch.
Biden laid out the angles of attack that the president will pursue on Tuesday, including confronting Romney about his “47 percent” comment, the percentage of income he pays in taxes, the holes in his tax plan and the GOP ticket’s position on abortion — none of which Obama hit hard in Denver. The president’s challenge will be to deliver those attacks in a town hall debate that features questions from an audience, a format that generally rewards empathy over aggressiveness.”
The president has accomplished a great deal in his first term. Here are five highlights:
- His stimulus package helped to save our economy from the edge of disaster in 2009. Although the bailout was far from perfect -- I do not agree that some banks or corporations are "too big to fail" -- I have not forgotten the disaster we narrowly avoided. As Andrew Sullivan recounted in Newsweek earlier this year, "When Obama took office, the United States was losing around 750,000 jobs a month. The last quarter of 2008 saw an annualized drop in growth approaching 9 percent. This was the most serious downturn since the 1930s, there was a real chance of a systemic collapse of the entire global financial system, and unemployment and debt—lagging indicators—were about to soar even further....But Obama did several things at once: he continued the bank bailout begun by George W. Bush, he initiated a bailout of the auto industry, and he worked to pass a huge stimulus package of $787 billion."
- He got us out of Iraq (remember that?), as promised and on schedule. He ended U.S. involvement in torture. He has made great strides in scaling down the war in Afghanistan, and has a plan for the removal of our troops there in 2014.
- He passed the Affordable Health Care Act despite zero support from Republicans in Congress. This health care act offers a safety net to millions of people who would otherwise have no health insurance (and whose medical costs we taxpayers would still wind up paying). The Congressional Budget Office predicts it will help to reduce the nation's deficit.
- He found and eliminated the most wanted terrorist of our era. Sullivan again: "If George Bush had taken out bin Laden, wiped out al Qaeda’s leadership, and gathered a treasure trove of real intelligence by a daring raid, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now. But where Bush talked tough and acted counterproductively, Obama has simply, quietly, relentlessly decimated our real enemies, while winning the broader propaganda war. Since he took office, al Qaeda’s popularity in the Muslim world has plummeted." I don't agree with all of Obama's tactics (for example, by the time he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in November 2009, he had already launched more drone attacks than any other president in history), but he has gotten results.
- He has expanded LGBTQ civil rights, promoted green energy to support a sustainable environment, and helped to fuel innovations in education with the Race to the Top Fund.
Obama's got a lot to crow about, and a workable plan for the next four years. He just needs to convey that srength to the American people.