Religion News Service: In-depth. Impartial. Engaged.

Blogs » Jana Riess - Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood has moved: Click here to read the latest posts

More Drama, Obama

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:

  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.




Topics: Politics, Election
Beliefs: Interfaith
Tags: affordable health care act, andrew sullivan barack obama's long game, flunking sainthood, hofstra university october 16 presidential debate, iraq war, jana riess, mitt romney 2012 election, obama stimulus package, osama bin laden, president barack obama 2012 election, war in afghanistan


  1. 1. He didn’t solve the great recession.
    2. He followed Bush’s Iraq timeline.
    3. He passed healthcare while 2/3 of America was against it. Now it infringes on religious rights.
    4. He did kill Bin Laden, just like any other president would have done with the intel gained from techniques he didn’t like. (He has a drone hit list.)
    5. Turned military gay, wasted $90 billion on green cronies, etc.

    Jana, you not only flunked sainthood, you flunked common sense.

  2. President Obama’s record includes ending the war in Iraq, saving the auto industry, increasing private-sector jobs and (against all odds!) accomplishing health-care reform that gives not only hope but insurance to Americans with pre-existing conditions—not to mention our kids, who can stay on our policies until they’re 26. As for “solving the great recession”—you don’t fix eight years of failed economic policies overnight with an obstructionist Congress more interested in getting you out of the White House than they are getting America back on the road to prosperity.

    Personally, I have one son home from Iraq and in college, another son off unemployment and working in the auto industry (which Romney was willing to see go bankrupt) and when my wife needed surgery for her recurrence of cancer she had the insurance she needed because of the Affordable Care Act.

    Am I better off than I was four years ago? You bet I am. Thanks, Jana. Rock On!

  3. His “apparent unwillingness to go on the offensive” is likely the result of his apparent inability to think on his feet. He’s smart, but he ain’t quick.

  4. 1) Amen to Lexi.

    2) Why is a religion news blog so political?

    3) Good thing your no drama guy is so fairminded and unwilling to go on the offensive.  Otherwise, his campaign might have subjected us to months of a constant stream of attack ads aims at tearing down Romney.  Oh wait, never mind, that’s about all he has given us.

    4) Why does anyone celebrate the “saving” of the auto companies?  He didn’t save the auto companies, he ignored the rule of law to favor the unions over the bond holders who held a legal claim superior to those of the union retiree medical benefits.  He demonstrated he is above the law, paying back his union supporters at the expense of the pension funds that held most of the bonds.  The irony is that had GM and Chrysler been allowed to fall into bankruptcy, neither the companies nor the jobs would have disappeared.  Many examples of large company bankruptcy (note the airlines) demonstrate that bankruptcy just means a restructuring of the capital and typically a resetting of the labor (union) contracts.  Shareholders would have lost either way.  Bond holders, on the other hand, would have ended up with a better recovery, as per the law.  And the unions would have been loosers, which would only have been just given that it was the exhorbitant benefits of the auto workers that broke the companies in the first place.  This episode was a travesty, a blemish in the history of corporate law, and certainly no accomplishment that Dems should be proud of.

  5. Jana, in many cases the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill) cost one million dollars per job created.  And the jobs lasted only two years.  It squandered a lot of Federal money with no residual continuong benefit in the economy.  It was tremendously ineffectual in creating any permanent capital infrastructure.

    I find it ironic that you would praise Obama’s taxpayer financed stimulus so lavishly when ypu criticized the LDS Church using its own funds to improve the value of its existing real estate in downtown Salt Lake. It emploted over a thpusand people fir two years in construction and created a mixed use development with offuces, retail, and resudential space that enhances the communuty on a continuing basis and provides employment as well as tax revenues. 

    Obama has squandered billions in financing “green energy” fiascos
    Ike Solyndra that, even had they succeeded, would have reduced greenhouse gases by only 1% by 2050.  Apparently it was OK for them to go into bankruptcy, but not GM or Chrysler. 

    Bankruptcy has many different forms. When a business has a real revenue stream, it will not be allowed to go into Chapter 7 dissolution, but will instead go into managed peotection against creditors under Chapter 11, so the debt rate of repayment is reduced to match itsnrevenue stream, and the company is released from contracts that would make ut impossible to continue in business, such as union pay contracts.

    If it is wrong to outsource US companies to other countries, why isn’t Obama being criticized for giving Chrysler to Fiat?  He confiscated the revenues owed to bondholders (including institutional investors like pension funds for publuc school teachers), withput just compensation.

    Obama’s creation of Obamacare has put a tremendous disincentive in place against new hiring.  He nationalized a sixth of tge economy and created uncertainty that deterred new capital investment.  That single act is responsible for preventing job creation in the health care sector,  a direct cause of the unemployment of my son, a nurse, for over a year. Obamacare us going to tax me on my health benefits, and I am NOT a millionaire, whike exempting union employees in my company, with no rational basis other than the quid pro quo of union political suppirt.  Obama gas no respectmfor kaw ir the Constitution. He is another Hugo Chavez who rewards his friendsnand uses the power of the Federal government to punish those who do not suppirt him.  He runs the cpuntry as if he were the mayor of Chicago, with machine polutics that deny the most basic freedoms and destroy equality under the law..

  6. Great comment, Raymond! Too bad Jana only engages with those who fawn over her every word.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

You also can sign in with Facebook or Twitter if you've connected your account to them.

Sign In Using Facebook

Sign In Using Twitter