Tuesday, December 17, 2013

No, Ron Fournier, you punditocratic hack, Obama is not like Bush

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Today's primary example of punditocratic hackery comes from National Journal's odious Ron Fournier, who tries to make the case that Obama in his second term is basically Bush 2.0:

Claiming a mandate he never had, the newly reelected president foisted a bold agenda upon Congress and the public, then watched it collapse within months—a victim of scandal, cynical opponents, and his own hubris. One despairing adviser declared, "This is the end of the presidency."

That was George W. Bush in 2005. Or was it Barack Obama this past year? Reading Peter Baker's extraordinary account of the Bush-Cheney era, Days of Fire, I found a striking number of parallels between Bush's fifth year in office and the atrocious first 12 months of President Obama's second term.

My takeaway: Obama needs to shatter the cycle of dysfunction (his and history's) or risk leaving office like Bush, unpopular and relatively unaccomplished.

Fournier then proceeds to go through "nine analogues between Bush's 2005 and Obama's 2013. I'll leave you to read them on your own, if you haven't already. But be forewarned: You'll be wading into a stink-pool of bullshit.

Consider, for example, this gem:

First-term success haunted the second term. The increasingly unpopular Iraq war Was an issue in 2004, even after Saddam Hussein's capture, but Bush had managed to finesse it for reelection. Obama's white whale was the Affordable Care Act. In both cases, luck ran out after Election Day. The death toll rose in Iraq during Bush's fifth year. For Obama, the federal health insurance website didn't work, and millions of Americans lost their insurance policies despite his promises to the contrary.

Both presidents deceived the public about their signature policies, and their credibility crumbled. Insularity hurt both teams. Vice President Dick Cheney famously said the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes." Obama and his advisers characterized catastrophic flaws with the ACA website as "glitches."

Nonsense. First, Obamacare is not, you know, the fucking Iraq War, which by Bush's second term was a full-on quagmire of bloodshed and devastation with no end in sight. The only problem with Obama's health-care reform has been the online rollout, which was indeed slowed down by glitches, which can be fixed (and have been or are being fixed), unlike, say a catastrophic and unwinnable war. Sure, some people have experienced some difficulties signing up, and some people are losing their (terrible) pre-ACA coverage. But how is that like the nightmare of chaos and death in Iraq?

This is not to say that Obama has been perfect. I've been a critic myself of much of what he has done, and continues to do, including his Bush-like (and, in some cases, worse-than-Bush) approach to national security. But to the extent that his presidency has encountered problems, including the inability to enact his agenda, it's not arrogance or overreach or scandals (and her Fournier idiotically blames Obama for both the IRS scandal and the White House response to the Benghazi attack, as if Republican lies had nothing to do with it) that is to blame but instead an opposition party that with a majority in the House and the filibuster in the Senate has blocked the president at every turn, turning the country effectively ungovernable. The Democrats never did anything like this when Bush was in office.

Anyway, I've already spent too much time on this utter ridiculousness. It's the old false equivalence thing mixed with a Republican-friendly assault on President Obama. It's just the sort of hackery that plays so well, and gets so much recognition, in Washington these days, and it's scandalous that such bullshit passes for serious commentary and actually gets published.

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