Clive Crook writes:
What does it matter who caused the problem? Obama's job is to solve it.
This with respect to the crippling fiscal legacy bequeathed by the Bush administration and the appalling recession that subsequently wiped out revenues. Yes, he actually wrote the words:
What does it matter who caused the problem?
Let me try to explain: it matters who caused the problem and why because if we do not understand the causes we cannot fix the problem and it matters because any adult judgment of a politician's first year that does not take into account the inheritance he was bequeathed is impossible.
It matters because the most important fact in American politics is the worst presidency in modern times that preceded Obama.
Two failed, unwinnable wars that continue to destroy lives and cripple our finances, a massive splurge in entitlement and discretionary spending, a huge increase in defense spending and massive tax cuts: this we now have to forget? This context should be removed from the picture?
It matters too because the very people who gave us this mess are now adamantly refusing to do anything to get us out of it, and pledge to return to exactly the same policies that got us there in the first place: more tax cuts, more war, more entitlement spending, more debt, no health insurance reform, no action on climate change. Clive acts as if there were some viable alternative out there. There isn't.
I'm not saying that Obama should not be held responsible for actions he has taken; I am saying he should not be held responsible for actions he did not take and an appalling inheritance he was forced to grapple with. Removing that context, as the GOP has largely done, and Crook now endorses, is to rig the entire debate so that Obama cannot win. It is a function of the kind of punditry that is, in fact, far more of a problem for the country than anything Obama has done - because it bases political judgment on unreality, and distorts the body politic's capacity for reasoned argument. It treats all of this as a game.
Many of us backed Obama to try and end that game. But so many are invested in continuing it.