But by now it should be clear to progressives that Obama is no longer the young, multiracial Hawaiian senator from Chicago that he used to be. And it should be clear to conservatives that he’s not the “dithering” socialist that they thought he’d turn out to be — he’s the president of the United States. With few exceptions — from the Gulf oil spill to the Arab Spring — he’s done what any of his recent predecessors or likely successors would have done. Heck, he’s doing what George Washington would have done.
Did he get rolled in the debt-ceiling fight? Maybe. Should he have started negotiations with a 1-to-1 ratio of revenues to cuts so he could eventually get the 1-to-3 ratio he really wanted? Possibly. Or were congressional Republicans unwilling to take any deal that didn’t break Obama’s back? Definitely. How do you know? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said back in November that his top priority this year was to make Obama a one-term president.
He might succeed.
On Obama’s watch, America clearly hasn’t been transformed. But at a time of great peril, it hasn’t fallen apart, either. The president has made compromise after unsatisfying compromise, and from here on in, every day, he’ll be telling us to “eat our peas.” If he gets four more years, it’ll be more of the same.
If his tenure comes to an end, the task of finding a graceful exit from Afghanistan while defending the modern welfare state against the Tea Party will fall to the “grown-up” Republicans like Sen. John McCain, Romney, McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner — as Obama rides off into the sunset.
And your first reaction might be something like, “Oh, well. Nobody loves Obama anymore.”
That’s true. But a lot of folks will miss him when he’s gone.
David Swerdlick is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.