Midterm grades

Published by James O'Toole on .

                                                       By James M. Perry

 Barack Hussein Obama is a mixed-race American. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961.  He was graduated from the private Punahou School, where he played on the basketball team. He attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, then transferred to Columbia University in New York City to earn his degree. He was a community organizer in Chicago before attending the Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review. He taught at the University of Chicago Law School for a dozen years before entering politics. He was elected to the state Senate in 1996, to the U.S. Senate in 2004, and to the presidency in 2008. .

He is the 44th president of the United States and the commander-in-chief of its armed forces.

These are the basic facts, but some of them are still disputed by a hard core of Americans who refuse to accept Obama as the country's legitimate president. They say he was born in Kenya and, as a closet Muslim, wants to impose Sharia blasphemy laws on unsuspecting Americans. They blame him for Benghazi, for Iraq, for the Veterans Administration, for the Internal Revenue Service. These are pretty much the same people who believe God created man 10,000 years ago and that climate change simply isn't happening (and that, even if it is, mankind has nothing to do with it).

The one thing Obama-haters and their allies in the Republican Party cannot admit is that President Obama has sometimes been a crashing success in his second term in office.

"The truth is," Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times the other day, "that these days much of the commentary you see on the Administration -- and a lot of the reporting too -- emphasizes the negative, the contrast between the extravagant hopes of 2008 and the prosaic realities of political trench warfare" with the Republicans in 2014.  

The accepted thing," Krugman says, "is to portray Mr. Obama as floundering, his presidency as troubled if not failed."  Now, truth to be told, there was a good bit of floundering in Obama's first term, as a somewhat bewildered president tried to reach workable compromises with Republicans in the Congress, without seeming to realize that most GOP members had no interest in racking up congressional victories for the man so many in their party love to hate.  

But this is all wrong, Krugman says. "Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there's a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a sharp turn in the right direction."

Well, I'm not so sure of that. But victories there have been. I'll mention just one. Obamacare. It works, and it will be working even better 100 years from now. Obamacare is a magisterial achievement.   

Obama is working on other serious matters that should be supported enthusiastically by almost everyone, but are routinely dismissed by his angry opposition. He is, for example, the first president to take global warming seriously, but his efforts to clean up the country's power plants are ridiculed by his ignorant disbelievers.   

Not enough good people seem willing to stand up to Obama's angry critics.  Even the Washington Post's edit page, once a celebrated liberal pulpit, seems to have converted to neoconservatism, with all its interventionist foreign-policy ideas (remember George Bush and Iraq?).  "Why Does the U.S. Stand Idly By in Syria?" Fred Hiatt, the neocon editor of the edit page, asked the other day. Or, in another piece, "Is There Change President Obama Can Believe In"?

Where's Herblock, the Post's great editorial cartoonist, when we need him? Where, in fact, are all the rest of us? Barack Obama is no Franklin Roosevelt, but he's showing some promise.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, is contributing regular observations for  Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement.  Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.