Tim Egan, in the Times today, notes that Obama may have saved capitalism, and gets no respect. The auto industry, the stock market, all of it, with unemployment the laggard that cost him:
It's worth noting in this context that Obama's health reform bill owes much of its complexity to the fact that it extends, rather than challenges or limits, the role of private insurance companies, and did nothing to rein in investor-owned for-profit health facilities like imaging centers, specialty hospitals and the like.
Egan's list of Obama's unacknowledged achievements is OK, as far as it goes. He brings up FD Roosevelt, who, too, perhaps, saved capitalism, but whose huge New Deal public works and other programs rallied the people to the government. But Egan doesn't take it far enough.
Obama suffered politically because his base on the left would have preferred a more forthright challenge to the private actors who caused the troubles in the first place: letting the banks fail, no matter how big; offering a public option or single-payer health plan; prosecution of filthy rich businessmen who nearly brought the world to its knees. He suffered because too many on the left, too many in the base he recruited to get elected, felt themselves ignored or thrown under the bus in a vain search for compromise. And he suffered because he let his voice be drowned out by those who not only disagreed with his policies, but think him a Kenyan, socialist, Muslim, America-hating, Constitution-shredding, Cloward-Piven conspiring, white-hating clear and present danger to the country. And, too, because too many in the media accepted too much nonsense at face value, granting it a legitimacy it in no way deserves.
It's vital that a Democrat, probably Obama, win in 2012, if only because a vacant Supreme Court seat might present itself. If he wants to win, he has to revive his base, and he can't do that without being a better political voice, with clearer views, appearing less willing to compromise with opponents ever more strident and crazy in their refusal to compromise.