The Re-election of President Obama

President Obama’s has always been far more successful a president than his opponents claim. Do voters remember all he has done? The American people heard powerful speeches by former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a host of others. Unlike the GOP convention the previous week, the Democratic convention was filled with excitement and motivated delegates. Did Mr. Obama make the case for second term?

Just as he did in 2008, President Obama rose to the occasion.

He could have been more passion, but gone was the maddening coyness of recent years in which he has avoided honestly talking about the mess that President George W. Bush had left him. He went after Romney. “You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally,” he said.

He clearly laid out a vision for governing totally different than that of Romney. Although Romney’s plan was hidden from view at last week’s Republican convention in Tampa, Fla. Obama promised deficit reduction “without sticking it to the middle class”; to enact a reformed tax code that raises rates on income above $250,000 to where it was under Mr. Clinton; to preserve middle-class deductions; to “never turn Medicare into a voucher.”

President Obama slowly shifted from his 2008 appeal of hope and change to talk of tough choices and tough paths. “You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear,” he said. “You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

Mr. Obama entered the convention with an actual solid record at governing — not just the Republican posture of saying “No” to everything. Obama has far better ideas about how to create jobs, make Americans’ tax burdens more equitable and improve ordinary Americans’ economic prospects than the tired, failed trickle-down fantasies served up by Romney and the GOP.

Obama ended the war in Iraq, tried to rescue the Afghan war that Bush bungled, stepped up the offensive on terrorists with increased drone attacks, killed Osama Bin Laden and rallied the world to increase pressure on Iran.

He mocked the extreme message of the Tea Party by offering an alternative vision of government’s obligation to help those most in need, provide everyone with the basic structures of society and the economy and end discrimination. Obama has protected women’s constitutional rights and liberties.

But, after he was elected, Mr. Obama allowed himself to believe that the Republicans would work with him to solve the major problems they created. The president and his inner circle were oblivious to the Republicans’ explicit warning that he would not get the slightest cooperation from a party and a Congressional caucus driven by a racist hatred of Mr. Obama. To his credit, and some say folly, it took nearly three years for Obama to recognize that central fact.

Mr. Obama won passage of his economic recovery bill that not only warded off depression, but actually created jobs, and of a health care reform law that is essential to the long-term economic health of the country. But he made the mistake of leaving the lawmaking up to Congress, where Democratic leaders did not fully step up to the moment and Republicans stood in stonewall opposition.

Obama made a grave error when he ceded the national debate on central issues to those same “do nothing” Republicans, blinded by his belief that the force of the situation could melt their obstructionism. He was wrong, fueled by hatred of Obama, the Republicans became more entrenched and they proved they were prepared to sacrifice the county if it could bring the downfall of President Obama. Mr. Obama allowed his opponents to define the argument, and for the moment, define him.

Wednesday night, President Bill Clinton showed President Obama the antidote. On Wednesday night, Mr. Clinton fought back against the Republicans and shredded them on Medicaid and Medicare, two areas where the Obama campaign has failed to get real traction. He made the argument for health care reform, financial re-regulation and fair taxation, all while firing up the crowd.

As President Clinton noted in his speech, the Romney campaign has routinely launched false attacks with a blatant disregard for the truth, even going so far as to say, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

On Thursday, Obama met his challenge in Charlotte and made the case for his second term.




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