The New Yorker enthusiastically endorses Obama, saying his reelection is “a matter of great urgency”

God, I love the New Yorker. Their endorsement of Obama is one of the very best things that I’ve read over the course of this past year. It’s thoughtful, comprehensive, and brilliantly written. Following are two brief clips. One pertains to Obama. The other pertains to Romney. I’d highly recommend following the link, though, and reading the whole thing. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.


…Barack Obama began his Presidency devoted to the idea of post-partisanship. His rhetoric, starting with his “Red State, Blue State” Convention speech, in 2004, and his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” was imbued with that idea. Just as in his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” he had tried to reconcile the disparate pasts of his parents, Obama was determined to bring together warring tribes in Washington and beyond. He extended his hand to everyone from the increasingly radical leadership of the congressional Republicans to the ruling mullahs of the Iranian theocracy. The Republicans, however, showed no greater interest in working with Obama than did the ayatollahs. The Iranian regime went on enriching uranium and crushing its opposition, and the Republicans, led by Dickensian scolds, including the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, committed themselves to a single goal: to engineer the President’s political destruction by defeating his major initiatives. Obama, for his part, did not always prove particularly adept at, or engaged by, the arts of retail persuasion, and his dream of bipartisanship collided with the reality of obstructionism.

Perhaps inevitably, the President has disappointed some of his most ardent supporters. Part of their disappointment is a reflection of the fantastical expectations that attached to him. Some, quite reasonably, are disappointed in his policy failures (on Guantánamo, climate change, and gun control); others question the morality of the persistent use of predator drones. And, of course, 2012 offers nothing like the ecstasy of taking part in a historical advance: the reëlection of the first African-American President does not inspire the same level of communal pride. But the reëlection of a President who has been progressive, competent, rational, decent, and, at times, visionary is a serious matter. The President has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social, and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration. Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—the $787-billion stimulus package—was well short of what some economists, including Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, thought the crisis demanded. But it was larger in real dollars than any one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal measures. It reversed the job-loss trend—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as 3.6 million private-sector jobs have been created since June, 2009—and helped reset the course of the economy. It also represented the largest public investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s interstate-highway program. From the start, though, Obama recognized that it would reap only modest political gain. “It’s very hard to prove a counterfactual,” he told the journalist Jonathan Alter, “where you say, ‘You know, things really could have been a lot worse.’” He was speaking of the bank and auto-industry bailouts, but the problem applies more broadly to the stimulus: harm averted is benefit unseen.

As for systemic reform, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Obama signed into law in July, 2010, tightened capital requirements on banks, restricted predatory lending, and, in general, sought to prevent abuses of the sort that led to the crash of 2008. Against the counsel of some Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the Obama Administration led the takeover, rescue, and revival of the automobile industry. The Administration transformed the country’s student-aid program, making it cheaper for students and saving the federal government sixty-two billion dollars—more than a third of which was put back into Pell grants. AmeriCorps, the country’s largest public-service program, has been tripled in size.

Obama’s most significant legislative achievement was a vast reform of the national health-care system. Five Presidents since the end of the Second World War have tried to pass legislation that would insure universal access to medical care, but all were defeated by deeply entrenched opposition. Obama—bolstered by the political cunning of the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi—succeeded. Some critics urged the President to press for a single-payer system—Medicare for all. Despite its ample merits, such a system had no chance of winning congressional backing. Obama achieved the achievable. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the single greatest expansion of the social safety net since the advent of Medicaid and Medicare, in 1965. Not one Republican voted in favor of it.

Obama has passed no truly ambitious legislation related to climate change, shying from battle in the face of relentless opposition from congressional Republicans. Yet his environmental record is not as barren as it may seem. The stimulus bill provided for extensive investment in green energy, biofuels, and electric cars. In August, the Administration instituted new fuel-efficiency standards that should nearly double gas mileage; by 2025, new cars will need to average 54.5 miles per gallon.

President Obama’s commitment to civil rights has gone beyond rhetoric. During his first week in office, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects women, minorities, and the disabled against unfair wage discrimination. By ending the military’s ban on the service of those who are openly gay, and by endorsing marriage equality, Obama, more than any previous President, has been a strong advocate of the civil rights of gay men and lesbians. Finally, Obama appointed to the Supreme Court two highly competent women, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the Court’s first Hispanic. Kagan and Sotomayor are skilled and liberal-minded Justices who, abjuring dogmatism, represent a sober and sensible set of jurisprudential values…


…In the service of (his) ambition, Romney has embraced the values and the priorities of a Republican Party that has grown increasingly reactionary and rigid in its social vision. It is a party dominated by those who despise government and see no value in public efforts aimed at ameliorating the immense and rapidly increasing inequalities in American society. A visitor to the F.D.R. Memorial, in Washington, is confronted by these words from Roosevelt’s second Inaugural Address, etched in stone: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have too little.” Romney and the leaders of the contemporary G.O.P. would consider this a call to class warfare. Their effort to disenfranchise poor, black, Hispanic, and student voters in many states deepens the impression that Romney’s remarks about the “forty-seven per cent” were a matter not of “inelegant” expression, as he later protested, but of genuine conviction.

Romney’s conviction is that the broad swath of citizens who do not pay federal income tax—a category that includes pensioners, soldiers, low-income workers, and those who have lost their jobs—are parasites, too far gone in sloth and dependency to be worth the breath one might spend asking for their votes. His descent to this cynical view—further evidenced by his selection of a running mate, Paul Ryan, who is the epitome of the contemporary radical Republican—has been dishearteningly smooth. He in essence renounced his greatest achievement in public life—the Massachusetts health-care law—because its national manifestation, Obamacare, is anathema to the Tea Party and to the G.O.P. in general. He has tacked to the hard right on abortion, immigration, gun laws, climate change, stem-cell research, gay rights, the Bush tax cuts, and a host of foreign-policy issues. He has signed the Grover Norquist no-tax-hike pledge and endorsed Ryan’s winner-take-all economics.

But what is most disquieting is Romney’s larger political vision. When he said that Obama “takes his political inspiration from Europe, and from the socialist democrats in Europe,” he was not only signalling Obama’s “otherness” to one kind of conservative voter; he was suggesting that Obama’s liberalism is in conflict with a uniquely American strain of individualism. The theme recurred when Romney and his allies jumped on Obama’s observation that no entrepreneur creates a business entirely alone (“You didn’t build that”). The Republicans continue to insist on the “Atlas Shrugged” fantasy of the solitary entrepreneurial genius who creates jobs and wealth with no assistance at all from government or society.

If the keynote of Obama’s Administration has been public investment—whether in infrastructure, education, or health—the keynote of Romney’s candidacy has been private equity, a realm in which efficiency and profitability are the supreme values. As a business model, private equity has had a mixed record. As a political template, it is stunted in the extreme. Private equity is concerned with rewarding winners and punishing losers. But a democracy cannot lay off its failing citizens. It cannot be content to leave any of its citizens behind—and certainly not the forty-seven per cent whom Romney wishes to fire from the polity.

Private equity has served Romney well—he is said to be worth a quarter of a billion dollars. Wealth is hardly unique in a national candidate or in a President, but, unlike Franklin Roosevelt—or Teddy Roosevelt or John Kennedy—Romney seems to be keenly loyal to the perquisites and the presumptions of his class, the privileged cadre of Americans who, like him, pay extraordinarily low tax rates, with deductions for corporate jets. They seem content with a system in which a quarter of all earnings and forty per cent of all wealth go to one per cent of the population. Romney is among those who see business success as a sure sign of moral virtue.

The rest of us will have to take his word for it. Romney, breaking with custom, has declined to release more than two years of income-tax returns—a refusal of transparency that he has not afforded his own Vice-Presidential nominee. Even without those returns, we know that he has taken advantage of the tax code’s gray areas, including the use of offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. For all his undoubted patriotism, he evidently believes that money belongs to an empyrean far beyond such territorial attachments…

Again, I’d highly recommend you read the whole thing. And please do consider forwarding it to anyone you’ve ever heard say that there’s no difference between the candidates, or that Obama is just “the lesser of two evils.” He’s much more than that. As the New Yorker says so eloquently, “Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds,” and, despite whatever issues we may have, regardless of how important, we should not lose sight of that fact, or the fact that a vote for Romney could put all of our recent progress in jeopardy. Yes, there are tremendously important things that he’s yet to act on, but, given the state of affairs when he took office, and the obstructionism of the Republican Congress, we’ve made incredible progress. The important thing is that we’re on the right path again. And they’re right… This is a matter of great urgency.

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  1. Angela Davis
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Angela Davis in Detroit a day or so ago. Super compelling take on the issue of the reelection of President O (skip to the 18 minute mark):

  2. Meta
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Obama is on a roll. I loved his recent take down of Ayn Rand.

    Asked by Rolling Stone if he’s ever read Rand, Obama said “sure.”

    “Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up,” Obama said. “Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision.”

    “It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America,” Obama said about Rand’s vision. “Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a ‘you’re on your own’ society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.”

  3. Oliva
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Heartening suggestion re. Obama’s intentions to address climate change from the Douglas Brinkley interview in Rolling Stone:

    The main goal of Obama’s second term, besides driving down unemployment, will likely be the conversion to clean energy. While Obama doesn’t wear an Inconvenient Truth T-shirt, he nevertheless understands that environmentalism makes for good business in the 21st century. The high seas and savage winds of fossil-fuel abuse are upon us. Obama has made clear that addressing climate change is the issue of most long-term consequence facing not only America but human civilization itself.

    Obama’s own words on his second-term focus on clean energy, from the interview:

    On energy and climate change, we will continue to develop oil and natural-gas resources, but we’ll build off the work we’ve done, doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars and doubling the investment we’ve made in clean energy. There’s a huge opportunity for us to focus on energy efficiency in our buildings, in our schools and in our residences. If we can make our economy as energy efficient as Japan, say, we would be cutting our greenhouse emissions by 20 percent and saving consumers billions of dollars every single year. And by the way, we can put a whole bunch of construction workers back to work in the process.

    and this from the beginning of the piece:

    Barack Obama can no longer preach the bright 2008 certitudes of “Hope and Change.” He has a record to defend this time around. And, considering the lousy hand he was dealt by George W. Bush and an obstructionist Congress, his record of achievement, from universal health care to equal pay for women, is astonishingly solid.

    . . . No wonder the right has such a gleam of hatred for Obama – he is the roadblock to their revolution. . . .

    If Obama wins re-election, his domestic agenda will be anchored around a guarantee to all Americans that civil rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, affordable health care, public education, clean air and water, and a woman’s right to choose will be protected, no matter how poorly the economy performs. Obama has grappled with two of the last puzzle pieces of the Progressive agenda – health care and gay rights – with success. If he is re-elected in November and makes his health care program permanent, it will take root in the history books as a seminal achievement. If he loses, Romney and Ryan will crush his initiatives without remorse.

    Read more:

  4. Posted October 26, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope he wins.

    Along with Taj.

  5. Oliva
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    It could be that there are people who feel like cynicism is appropriate, justified, okay–and whose memories of a time as close to us as the year 2000 have become blurry or have lost their oomph and power to rock a person to the core. Please keep the word urgent close to your heart and help rouse other potential voters, never feeling ashamed about caring a lot, even in a lousy arena such as U.S. politics–because ultimately it’s about all of our lives.

    The Obama office at 61 N. Huron, just south of Pearl, welcomes volunteers (has yard signs and buttons and such, of course). We can do real good even with just days to go before the election. And there’s still time for people to vote absentee (in Michigan applications must be received by 2 p.m. on 3 Nov.), so if you know anyone who needs to vote absentee, please steer them to their city clerk to request a ballot, asap–or steer them to

    Thank you!

  6. Edward
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    He got another big endorsement as well. Colin Powell said the following yesterday.

    “When he took over, the country was in very very difficult straits. We were in the one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, we had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration and unemployment peaked a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble. The auto industry was collapsing, the housing was start[ing] to collapse and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it’s starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising.”

  7. Mr. X
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard the Republicans say that we need to elect Romney because people don’t respect America, and we need to retake our position of leadership in the world. If that’s the case, why do people around the world, by a huge percentage, think that we should reelect Obama? I was just reading a poll from Germany showing that 91% would vote for Obama over Romney (see the link below). It would seem to me that this would indicate that they think he’s a better leader and respect him more. Of course, I suppose they could just want us to elect Obama because he’ll keep us weak. Is that what Republicans actually think?

  8. Eel
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Scientists support Obama as well.

  9. Eel
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone of note endorsing Romney? I’ve seen that Kid Rock and Meatloaf are behind him. And I’ve seen the video of a woman in blond wig with long fingernails and a big boobs who says that she’s voting for him. But are there others?

  10. SparkleMotion
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I think the Dos Equis guy supports Mitt Romney, if that counts.

  11. Oliva
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink


    Lee Iacocca, showing the requisite hypocrisy–think Chrysler’s comeback way back when, accomplished on the sturdy shoulders of the U.S. government–has endorsed Romney. But he’s a very old guy now–maybe is not thinking well. (Ha, just trying to be understanding. Surely, it’s the I-want-and-deserve-even-more-$$ and the I-got-mine-so-screw-you position.)

    from a 2008 NPR interview:

    [NPR host Melissa] BLOCK: I’ve seen a photograph of Lee Iacocca standing before a giant check made out to, I guess, the federal government, paying back the loan seven years ahead of schedule.

    Professor HYDE [Charles Hyde, professor of history at Wayne State University and author of Riding the Roller Coaster: A History of the Chrysler Corporation]: Yes.

    BLOCK: And taxpayers did earn a profit on that loan. How much? How did that happen?

    Professor HYDE: Well, federal government basically earned a profit on the stock certificates that they were given as part of the original deal. And I think they ended up making about $500 million altogether on that deal.

    BLOCK: You know, Professor Hyde, there’s an argument then and now that it would have been better for Chrysler to collapse, that Detroit would have been healthier in the long run. It would have been smaller and more innovative and produced better quality cars.

    Professor HYDE: Well, I know that argument was made. But the fact is that if you look at Chrysler’s history since its bailout, it introduced products like the minivan, the earliest generation of SUVs, and a whole lot of other very innovative passenger cars as well. I always think it’s better to have more competitors than fewer competitors.


    I also am curious about the so-called white-guy deficit. Every white guy I know, but possibly two, supports Obama’s reelection. I even know a conservative white guy who would not vote for Obama if there were even a choice; he detests Romney and pegged him as completely craven and unworthy years ago. Phew for that one; may there be countless others like him.

  12. John Galt
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Mitt Romney will win. Mark my word. He has magic underwear. And he’s white. It’s an unbeatable combination.

  13. Sparklemotion
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Well McCain didn’t win, does that mean Depends aren’t magical? Or… You aren’t suggesting McCain went commando?

  14. KKT
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    It was, I imagine, a reference to the magical Morman temple undergarments.

  15. Meta
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Saying, “Warren would lead where Brown has fallen short,” the Boston Globe came out today in favor of Elizabeth Warren.

  16. Meta
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Both the Economist and Bloomberg endorsed Obama today.

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  1. […] and how I intend to voteBy Mark | November 5, 2012Other than begging folks to vote for Syed Taj and Barack Obama, and against the likes of “mentally unbalanced” Tea Party-favorite Kerry Bentivolio, […]

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