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What Could Obama Have Done?


I find myself in an unusual position of arguing that someone is underestimating presidential power. Armando asserts that I argue that we shouldn’t care who is president. So, working backward from my clearly stated position, he seems to be saying that we shouldn’t care about foreign policy and security policy (where presidential power is dominant or near-dominant), the appointment power, the enforcement of legislation, the ability to veto legislation, the power to set the agenda, and the real (if subordinate) power to influence domestic policy all don’t matter! I disagree — I think this stuff matters a great deal, and personally plan to follow the next presidential election with substantial interest.

It is true that I believe that claims about the power of presidential rhetoric are a massive bullshit dump, 95% of the time involving pundit’s fallacies that are either demonstrably false or implausible and unfalsifiable. A bizarre number of people seem to have willfully misinterpreted this into an argument that progressives should not in any respect be disappointed in Obama, which of course isn’t true. Even if we focus on domestic policy and the president’s real rather than imaginary powers, there are plenty of things Obama could have done better. I particularly agree with #6 — not only did Obama drop the ball in making appointments to the Fed, but like his Democratic predecessor he’s gone along with the idea that a Republican Daddy should be in charge, with consequences that may cost him re-election.

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