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
- 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
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.
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