with those issues, how does Dyson reply by praising "what he's done with
earned income tax credit"? Like Ramesh Ponnuru, Reihan Salam, and Ross
Douthat, I'm glad that under Obama a working family with three
children can receive
a maximum of $5,751 rather than $5,112. Am I supposed to
consider that in the same moral universe with a policy that most
recently led to 13 innocent people
being killed in Yemen? In order to theoretically reduce the already
miniscule chance of an American citizen dying in a terrorist attack, our
president wages an ongoing assassination campaign that has already
killed hundreds of innocents. On the other hand, he got working class people in one of the richest countries on earth $639.
Dyson talks as if the former helps to mitigate the latter. Is that a widely held belief on the left?
The Affordable Care Act is a more
substantial change in policy. Progressives understandably celebrate the
new people it insures, the added protection it gives to insurance consumers, and
what many on the left regard as prudent reforms likely to improve the health
care system as a whole going forward. It remains the case that President
Clinton (and President Nixon,
for that matter) attempted major health care reform legislation. The
auto-bailout? George W. Bush approved the first phase of it. When Obama pushed through the bigger part of it, Rep. Paul Ryan
voted yes. Nor was it the only auto bailout in U.S. history. President
Carter signed the Chrysler bailout. All of this is to say that Dyson exaggerates the degree to which Obama's domestic policy
is "the most progressive since FDR," especially given the existence of
But even if we granted that Obama is the most progressive
domestic-policy president since FDR, Dyson is demonstrably
wrong when he replies to Ford's critique by saying, in effect, no one better could get elected on the issues you mention. On national security and civil liberties, candidate Obama was better, running far to President Obama's left, and he got elected!
He ran against indefinite detention, and got elected. He proclaimed torture a crime, and got elected.
no indication that he'd use the CIA to wage a classified drone war
in a half dozen countries, he got elected. There are, in addition, all
manner of objectionable things he's done that are not even politically
salient, from his war on whistleblowers to his invocations of the state
secrets privilege to various arguments his DOJ has made to expand
executive power. Any president could do better than Obama on those issues without running afoul of the electorate.
Does Glen Ford, who thinks that Obama is "the more effective evil," believe that Mitt Romney would be a better president? "No, I'm not saying that," he replied when asked the question. "I'm saying that with Romney in the White House,
even Dr. Dyson and others, many others, would join in the resistance to
austerity, the resistance to war. Apparently, they cannot muster the
energy to do that under a Democratic president, under the first black
president. It's their behavior that does in fact facilitate these
austerity assaults and these war -- this warmongering, because they don't
resist it, and they accept it as something that is a fait accompli, that is an inevitability."