Let Us Now Praise President Obama

Overjoyed pundits explain why only he could win health care

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John F. Kennedy once said, "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan." Health care reform is no different, with everyone from congressional Democrats to liberal interest groups taking a victory lap. But everyone agrees that President Obama took the lead on passing reform. Throughout the bill's long and frequently despairing journey, Obama's defeat was declared many times, but he persevered and ushered through one of the boldest social welfare bills in a generation. Praise for Obama was inevitable. But the way pundits choose to praise Obama, and how they credit him, varies significantly.

  • Joining Greatest Presidents  Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias declares, "Now that it’s done, Barack Obama will go down in history as one of America’s finest presidents." He adds that "fundamentally, he’s reshaped the policy landscape in a way that no progressive politician has done in decades."
  • America's Greatest Salesman  Vanity Fair's Todd Purdum credits Obama with "a masterly job of salesmanship—inside and outside the Beltway." He concludes, "Real change is never easy and the presidents who have wrought it have usually been a little ahead of the people, from Abraham Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation to L.B.J. on civil rights. Once again, Barack Obama has proved his conservative and liberal doubters wrong. He is now part of a very small club."
  • Obama Became a Warrior  The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne says Obama began as a bipartisan consensus-builder. "But when faced with implacable Republican opposition, he jettisoned the happy talk and came out fighting," Dionne writes. "By temperament, the president is more a consensus builder than a warrior. But he is also a practical man who wants to accomplish big things. On Sunday, he did just that on health care, and he earned a place in history."
  • He's Just Awesome at Politics  The New Republic's Noam Scheiber explores the political ability. "One of the real virtues of this White House is its ability to adapt--the Obama high command rarely makes the same mistake twice," he writes. "If the last two months are any indication, health care reform may only be the beginning of a string of big accomplishments."
  • Welcome to History, Obama  The New Republic's Jonathan Chait marvels. "Let me offer a ludicrously premature opinion: Barack Obama has sealed his reputation as a president of great historical import," he writes. "The template of a powerful, historically consequential Democratic president is unfamiliar to many of us. Certainly the Republicans have no real idea how to deal with it."
  • Never Bet Against Barack  Slate's Daniel Grossman surveys the political futures market, which took a bath by frequently betting that health care would fail. "Is there a larger lesson here?" he asks. "I think so. And it's this: Don't short Obama. In fact, that's been the lesson of Obama's entire career so far." The same thing is true of the real market:
Here's a two-year chart of the S&P 500; if you shorted the market after the election, or after the inauguration, you've lost money. And if you shorted in March 2009, after the passage of the stimulus package, when Stanford economist Michael Boskin penned the foolish op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with the headline's "Obama's Radicalism is Killing the Dow," you'd really be feeling some pain. The S&P 500 is up 72 percent since then.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.