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Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama


Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama

Jeff Cohen

With former Vice President Joe Biden seemingly ready to join the presidential race, a Washington Post reporter wrote: “Biden and his allies picture an election that poses a choice between four more years of Trump disruption and a chance to restore the Obama administration.”

Ah, the hope of an Obama restoration!



Uhh, I think you’re sorta preachin’ to the old choir on that one, Jeff. I don’t notice many Obama worshipers around here anymore. Online you don’t have to scrape off embarrassing bumper stickers.



My point is simple: It’s not good enough to “restore” Obama-ism. Look at the recent pattern of presidential history: When corporate-beholden Democrats win the White House and implement cautious, status-quo policies while inequality worsens, two things happen: 1) Right-wing Republicans quickly take back Congress, and 2) An even more dangerous GOP president follows.

Anyone else find this to be an extremely bizarre passage? Cohen just gave us all these reasons to think that not only was Obama not as great as his hype would have suggested, but that he was actually bad, Immoral, capital “I”.

Then he says that the reason to oppose Obama-ism is because it leads to more Republicans in office? Huh? So, we shouldn’t oppose Obama’s was and corporate give-aways because they are evil, but because swing voters will go with an R president next time, who is likely to, uh, do the very same things?



It’s not either-or. It’s both-and:

  • Obama was demonstrably bad for most people in the USA.
  • Even though someone like Obama would be “better than Trump,” better-than-Trump is not good enough.
  • Someone like Obama does lead to someone like Trump, or Bush II, or worse.

These are not contradictory concepts of Cohen’s, they are complementary.



Cohen actually tiptoes somewhat in saying that “Obama faced Republican opposition in Congress” when you consider that Democrats controlled Congress during Obama’s first two years and it was Obama’s corporate welfare program disguised as health care reform that cost Democrats control of Congress.

Notice that once Obama lost the opportunity to make a third SCOTUS appointment Obama’s brand as a constitutional law expert immediately evaporated.

Beware the 2020 candidates that appear to be resurrecting the Obama model…Booker, Biden, Harris, O’Rourke, among others.



Obama expanded the drone strike program by a factor of 10, expanded the Afghan War, continued the Iraq War, destroyed Libya and Syria. He enabled the banksters as they looted America. He allowed, perhaps encouraged the military to torture PFC Manning.

His drones murdered a 16 year old American boy, for the crime of being the son of a Muslim cleric.

He was, in all matters of substance, Bush’s 3rd & 4th term. Except of course, handsome, well-spoken, and wrapped in the flag of phony multi-cultural LGBT kum-bay-yah.

The lionization of this monster by liberals makes me want to vomit.



Mr. Cohen: After Trump, I even feel nostalgic for W, whom I hated. Trump has that kind of effect. I would indeed like to see a much more progressive Democrat for 2020. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., says that Democrats need to own their values and not try to imitate the GOP. I agree heartily. The Mayor is a very progressive candidate who doesn’t just think in Democrat platitudes. He understands data and knows how to apply theory pragmatically. He is brilliant yet can talk to average Americans. Maybe you would be interested in his candidacy.



This article was damn good up until that closing paragraph.

In the minds of voters, any Democrat is not better than Trump, and 2016 is your proof.



Applause to Cohen for taking this one on. It’s about time it was done.

The point could be made more strongly, though. It is a sad slide to regard the Obama administration as “normalcy,” and I don’t see that those with some experience of the prior history–and this certainly includes Jeff Cohen–need accept that construct.

Obama called himself a “Reagan Democrat.” He mostly extended the policies of GW Bush:

  • He brought more war to more places
  • He prosecuted and persecuted more journalists
  • He reduced the traditional protections of constitutionality, claiming to be authorized to murder even American citizens and our families without trial, by fiat
  • He pushed for increases in mountaintop removal and strip coal mining, tar sands exploitation and transport corridors
  • He pushed for the TPP, a treaty to limit the capacity of local governments and populations to mitigate the actions of international corporations

There is more, of course. But considering the Obama presidency as “normal” ought to involve considering the prior Bush presidency as normal in almost all but rhetorical style. I suppose there’s an argument for that, given that things getting worse has become fairly consistent since 1980.

Cohen makes it clear enough that this is not a normal he wants to go back to, and that’s great. But it seems important to understand that this abnormality did not in 2016 suddenly slide off of some relatively stable “normal” spectrum into corruption. Corruption is ancient, of course. And the slide into relatively unhindered and unadulterated corruption has continued year by year and administration by administration for at least a couple generations.

Understanding that is part of establishing a hard rejection of current policies as normality. Slipping by the insight provides another opportunity for the oligarchs to play dress-up, to change the persona of the pretender in the White House, to change the rhetoric from A to B and B to A, to give one a savior and the other a goat and never alter the flow of policy.



Hopey, Changy, oily tongued Obama only furthered corporate interests corporate interest’s across the board. Instead of universal healthcare we got a version of Romney’s corporate vampire care. Instead of helping Americans after Wall Street tanked the economy he helped…f**king Wall Street. I really don’t know if there’s any way to save average hard working Americans from the plague that infects politics these days. The only hope is for a REAL progressive to get a nomination. Something that will be fought tooth and nail to deny. We saw that in '16 when the DNC conspired to get Sanders out of the running. Expect more of the same but worse this time 'round.



sure Obama’s recrd was mixed but ts discouraging that so much space is given to his demonization that can only split the opposition to Trump, this serving his coalition of the greedy, polluting, misogynistic, racist, etc
Remember Obama’s stimulus pulled us out of the tailspin, he invested in renewable energy, rebuilding rail infrastructure, pushed tough auto efficiency standards, created National Monuments, appointed good people to the Supreme Court and pro-labor folks to the NLRB, helped workers get fairer overtime rules, reestablished relations with Cuba, avoided most Syrian intervention, made a deal with Iran, supported reproductive freedom, rejected pipelines and almost all off-shore drilling, his Clean Power Plan would have made power producers clean up, and more. To ignore all that is to serve the 1% that loves to see the Democratic coalition split apart.



A slick style masking a slimy substance



“Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., says that Democrats need to own their values and not try to imitate the GOP. I agree heartily. The Mayor is a very progressive candidate who doesn’t just think in Democrat platitudes. He understands data and knows how to apply theory pragmatically. He is brilliant yet can talk to average Americans. Maybe you would be interested in his candidacy.”

I would surly like to see him commit this to writing. I’ve visited his campaign website and found absolutely nothing pertaining to policy or platform. Personality wise, he’s a winner but so was Obama. To get my vote, Pete is going to have to come clean on policy and platform. All I’ve seen from him thus far are great speeches full of charm and
charisma. I love his wit: Pense is the cheerleader for the porn star President. He clearly knows how to turn a phrase.



Yes, it is short sighted to imply that the slide began with Obama. It has been there a long long time. Just after WWII we got what many used to consider the best GOP president the Democrats ever had instead of Henry Wallace, a true progressive and by far and away the most popular candidate in that primary. Had Wallace been nominated, as he would have been without corrupt behind the scenes manipulation of delegates from far right powerful democrats, and had he then been elected President, what a different world we’d be living in today.



I would disagree. In fact, any human being would be better than Trump.

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Can’t say I particularly favored Wallace, Alan. Nor Nixon, including for behind-the-scenes manipulation.



I totally lost my faith in Obama when he said that single payer was dead on arrival.I still voted against the Republican’t but I sure wished I had a candidate that I could believe in.



So many people hoped that Obama would be the breath of fresh air they were longing for, the end of Middle East wars, the rapprochement with North Korea and an understanding with Maduro in Venezuela. Instead the US got a presentable, charming con man, a monster dressed in a gentleman’s clothes. What did he do? He demonized Maduro and socialism, he fostered the destruction of Libya, he presided over the violent, illegal coup in Ukraine, he doubled down in Afghanistan with more troops and he supported terrorist insurgents in Syria causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands. This man is to be pitied. He, like his predecessor is destined for Hell!



Hi flapdoodle-----yes, what Obama asserted and who is was are not compatible. I read an article once about a man who had gone to school with him in Hawaii. The man was rudely writing that all Obama back then wanted was to be well liked. That thought hit me as true—and that possibly that was how he ran his presidency. He looked good in a suit, and he wanted to be well liked-----and so that’s what we got—not much.
We all read that he was a community organizer, but we later found the he had also worked on Wall St. He had so much good will as the first black president-------but he didn’t use it. I don’t think he knew how----because “being well liked,: was what he needed . I read too that one of the Nobel people wished that they had not chosen him for the Peace Prize—but it was silly to award it to a man based on"potential.”
I think that’s why he deferred to the Wall St. people-----he was not the right man for the job—but over a long span of years of wanting to be well liked----- he learned to look good while deferring to others… and if Trump was really trying to be the opposite of Obama----he would stop the ME wars, and clean up the environment and treat the immigrants as humans with legal rights.
I will always think of Obama this way— a Constitutional scholar who didn’t understand the Constitution YET -he was a man whose time had come—but quickly left—because it’s really more important to have a plan—than to be well liked. : (



Yes, thank you.