Why all the Obama hate?

I am really struggling with all this anti-Obama rhetoric, coming from both the right and the left. From where I sit, while he hasn’t been perfect, he’s accomplished quite a bit for us since he’s been president. Consider:

  • Obama got through the most comprehensive healthcare program we’ve ever had, which will provide a needed safety net to many, and yet will save the government money.
  • The “bailout” (TARP) happened when Bush was president, and consisted of loans and asset purchases. Current forecasts are that the government will get 90% of that money back.
  • The recovery & reinvestment act — passed by Obama — has exceeded the estimates of 3 million jobs saved or created, as graded by non-partisan groups. Most economists argue it should have been bigger to make a better change in the economy. It’s widely credited with having stopped the bleeding.

I don’t get it. Liberals are claiming he’s not doing enough, but look at what he’s got to work with: Republicans filibustering just about everything in the Senate. I don’t think that’s Obama’s fault.

And the conservatives, as far as I can tell, are just yelling. I can’t figure this out. They want to cut taxes, cut the deficit, and increase defense spending. Good luck with that.

28 thoughts on “Why all the Obama hate?

  1. I think it’s just racism, veiled more or less thinly. And probably some spillover from disgust with the Congressional Democrats, who still — sixteen years it’s been since Gingrich, and they still don’t seem to get that the Republicans are never going to cooperate with them again.

    I myself am annoyed with Obama for not doing much of anything to rein in the police state, and he could probably stand to toot his own horn a bit more, but, y’know, it could be so much worse.

  2. The problem is you see all of those things listed as good for the American public. Everyone has their own idea of what is good for the general public.. That is suppose to be decided on a local or state level not the federal level. You love America then you must love the constitution. You will probably laugh because I mention the constitution but that is where America is at. I am independent and you will never get me to align with corruption and that is what you are supporting. Democrat, Republican even Tea Party corruption is an infection in American politics and you seem o.k with it, but don’t try to con me brother :)

    1. That doesn’t make sense. The Constitution starts out with “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare…” In other words, the Constitution sites its very reason for being as doing things that are good for the American public. I don’t understand how you can say that it is supposed to be decided on something other than a federal level. Some things are, some things aren’t, and that’s how the system is set up until someone changes it. Not Obama’s fault.

      I agree that there is a lot of corruption out there in general, but I must say I’m not seeing it in Obama.

      1. I would be ok with the democratic party healthcare reform if they would have amended the constitution which would have been the proper thing to do. They are already making huge stretches with income tax and social security. Let me do a Little run down on the side here….

        #1. Assignations <— Everyday baby
        #2. Torture <— Yep torture is still going on
        #3. Continuing Illegal wars and calling himself Commander and Chief<— Big Violation
        #4. Blackmailing states with Medicaid and federal funding. ( more ethical but is the norm )
        #5. Mandates upon citizens to give money to profit organizations for the benefit of the people(WHAT?!?!?!) <— Pretty sick

        I know you are ok with assignations and torture. But the question is are you alright with unconstitutional wars and breaking basic procedures. You think a man who is so pure would assassinate people without trial? What about sticking drills in people in Iraq?!?! and the continued support of Terrorist organizations in the middle east. :) Ya good guy you have there.. Real change.

        In 20-30 years from now you are going to find out this isn't even the worst that your main man of change is doing… There is a illegal war going on…. They have let the corporate world rob America and weaken it.. That is unforgivable.. You say things that just don't make sense you support a killer, a traitor to democracy and law, yet you have been so deaf to the pain and suffering of men that you no longer care. Thats my point of view.. We are not in a state of war because there was no formal deceleration you and I have been taken for a ride… Difference is you like it…

        1. BTW sorry for all grammatical mistakes and spelling but am using open source grammer and spelling correction software that doesn’t do a good job… Plus I don’t care about grammer only anal perps would :)

        2. Hi, and thanks for the reply.

          I am not OK with torture; as far as I know, that had ended (or almost) even before Bush left office. Where are you getting the information that it’s still happening?

          What wars are illegal and what makes them so? I am as much anti-war as anyone, and find it terribly sad what’s happened in the USA and around the world in the last 10 years as a result of our aggression, but illegal?

          You know, I’d have been happier with not just a public option but with a single-payer system where there are no private insurers. Realistically, that wasn’t going to happen. OK, so we’re stuck with them. We need to get insurance to everybody. I consider a tax break on those that get it (or a tax penalty on those wealthy enough to do so but don’t) perfectly reasonable. There are tax breaks for buying a clean car, so why not this?

          I don’t know what you’re talking about with drills.

          I do think it’s short-sighted to fund governments like Pakistan. Funding bad people has come back to bite us again and again.

          The guy’s not perfect, obviously, but by your measure he is still somewhat better than every other president since Carter. So that doesn’t answer my question why people hate him so much.

  3. A certain kind of historical ignorance and wishful thinking drives some measure of the kinds of sentiment described. I would attribute some (by no means all, nor even most) of the intractability of sentiment toward Obama as a misplaced belief on both extremes that the President can perform miracles, and similarly misplaced belief that the President need not attend to the significant and constitutional power of Congress, and by extension those that elected Congress. And another misplaced belief that Obama is not a centrist. These erroneous beliefs work from both ends of the spectrum in generating angst toward Obama.

    Further, Congress has a great deal of inertia, attributable to the similar inertia (or the statistical bell curve of plurality) demonstrated in election after election, in the districts or States that do the electing. The country’s citizens are not ideologically, financially aligned or unified, and never have been.

    For some on left, Obama’s mistake has been to fail to keep campaigning, in order to persuade the electorate over the last two years to continue to modify the members of Congress, so that Congress may be changed in the ways required to allow, promote and implement the policies the left desires.
    For some conservatives, Obama represents an active executive that does not need permission from (a unified and obstructionist Republican minority in the Senate) to act, to regulate, and to do things. One might call some of these people sore losers, and in the Bush era, sore winners. The Bush administration actively believed and espoused a theory that the President did not need to attend to Congress, nor was limited by law This is the power that some conservatives object being held by someone not of their persuasion.

    Consequence: the electorate, as well as how the electorate is permitted to act (via the kind of elections the US conducts, how votes are counted, lack of proportional representation, lack of 3rd parties (an constructed historical artifact coming out of voting laws of the late 1800s) and the coalition-building implied in successful multi-party nations). These are all historical artifacts that affect how our political discussions are conducted.

    Not quite apropos, but an example of a hiding-in plain-sight-artifact that affects how a political discussion: the American war for independence could occur because there was a tradition of more than a hundred-fifty years of a certain kind of democracy among landed and moneyed elites, and usurpation of that tradition via taxation to recover the prior expenses of defense costs relating to territorial conflicts with French and native Americans lead to enough upset among a vocal minority to assert the privilege of self-determination against the British Crown and Parliament, and to organize based upon that assertion. Without that previous tradition, there is no usurpation to object to.

  4. I think the problem is mostly about media conditioning the way people think. In Italy, the previous govt was able to introduce one of the most important Economy package in italian history economy which wiped away some of contraints in families’ everyday life that costed billions of euro each year.

    The govt fell shortly afterwards. Why? I can tell you why: because the media were so much hammering the public opinion about how wrong the govt was doing that, in the end, people conviced themselves that the govt was actually doing wrong, while it wasn’t.

    Why the media did this? Because they are in the hand of Mr. Berlusconi, who owns three out of nine of the most important broadcast channels in Italy and, at the tima, was not in the govt.

  5. The very first bullet point you mentioned seems reason enough to hate his policies; you seem to see it as a *good* thing, but I assume you know that not everyone agrees with you there. As for things done by previous administrations, he has shown no signs of solving those problems at speeds faster than the usual government glacier. He uses the veto far too infrequently. He talks about dropping partisanship whenever he sees things blocked by the opposition, and ends up coming across like “shut up and pass it without question”. He seems like a stereotypical Democrat in most ways. And in general, for all his talk of “change”, I’ve seen little change in how the government operates.

    I hope that answers your question, in what I’d consider a fairly reasoned way. Whether you agree with it or not, I hope what I said at least makes sense.

    1. Sure, not everyone agrees with the first bullet point, but even that I don’t understand: those that are complaining the loudest seem to have an irrational fear of a different bill than the one that passed. I am puzzled.

      I agree it would be better to try to use the veto more, but he has such a fragile majority in the senate that I’m not sure how practical it would be to use it to, say, cut out earmarks from important legislation that really needs to pass.

  6. I think if you read some free-market analysis-oriented sites (purposely not using “capitalism” here even though that is not what exists currently anyway) like thedailybell.com or http://www.mises.org for several months, then it will become clear why all the programs the government rams through are there just for….the government and those that control it. Not for the “general public” as some have pointed out above already. The fact that the state-imposed educational brain-washing in schools and universities, and ignorance of economics leads people to not question what is being done to them in “their own interests” is only apparent after quite a bit of exposure to alternatives that are never mentioned in the establishment education and media.

    1. I see several problems with this.

      First, it can’t possibly be true that *all* government problems are “just for the government and those that control it.” For instance: should tax cuts for those making more the $250,000 be kept or allowed to expire? Regardless of your opinion on the question, I don’t see how it can be claimed that *both* options are for the government and those that control it.

      Beyond that, I can honestly say that the comment seems to me to be a bunch of talking points without anything to back them up. The messenger is irrelevant to a good argument; what exactly is there to back up these broad claims?

  7. The health care bill is a ridiculous boondoggle which was passed undemocratically, and is making the problems worse, not better. If that isn’t enough to dislike him, bear in mind that he has embraced and extended most of Bushes worst policies, from TARP to Guantanamo.

    1. Why do you say that? I’ve heard people say this before but never why. It passed the house and the senate by majority vote, and was signed by the president. That’s the same as any other bill around here.

      I am sad to see Guantanamo not closing, and think his sin there was being a bit naive in how easy it would be to do.

      TARP — I dislike it but think it was absolutely necessary to fend off a serious depression.

  8. On the one hand — I agree with you. I think he’s genuinely trying his best, and the things he has accomplished have been helpful, sometimes greatly so.

    At the same time, the crisis we’re in is immense. The planet might become fricking uninhabitable over the next several decades, and even the effects of mild climate change could be (are!) catastrophic for many parts of the world — not to mention the potential geopolitical consequences. The economy is in a terrible place, and shows no signs of getting much better, with non-negligible chances of falling down a cliff again (see: Europe). (Again, not to mention the potential geopolitical consequences. People like to laugh at Rand Paul for suggesting that bad economies can have Hitler-like consequences, but the idea is not a crazy one.) The situation with Iran and Israel is poisonous. Long term, the fiscal situation of the US is unsustainable, and it says something that this is probably the least of our problems. And the political process is just broken (not just on this side of the Atlantic).

    Again, I’m not saying Obama is to blame for any of this. The fault lies primarily with the various Washington lobbies, George W. Bush, and Republicans in Congress — whose cynicism is breathtaking. (Their sincerely held policy ideas are profoundly wrong 90% of the time, but even when they aren’t (certain tax cuts, Romneycare) they obstruct and demagogue just for the sake of it). Also the Republican base, who primary anyone who doesn’t toe the line. Secondarily it lies with Democrats in Congress, especially the ‘moderate’ ones, who have it within their power to make the Republicans irrelevant, and simply choose not to. Obama himself is doing a fairly good job, but in the situation we’re in ‘fairly good’ might not be enough to save us. (Though sometimes I’m doubtful even about that. Did you read Ryan Lizza’s article about the climate bill[1]? Turns out Obama played a significant part in bungling it. I don’t expect him to do magic and make every good bill into law with a wave of his wand, but I do expect him to be, on balance, helpful rather than a hindrance. I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt about these things, because he sees all of it from the inside and I don’t, but now I don’t know.)

    [1] http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/11/101011fa_fact_lizza

    Anyway, you asked why people are so mad at him. Psychology. After the the 2008 election, progressives’ expectations were incredibly high. Finally, they had huge majorities in Congress, and a President who seemed destined to be one of the greats. They expected this to be the next progressive revolution after FDR and LBJ. They expected the economy to be fixed, the political power of the big banks crushed, a much more progressive healthcare bill with a public option (and without Stupak), a 100%-auction cap and trade bill, EFCA, ENDA, an end to DADT, an end to the wars in the Middle East, and probably more I’m forgetting — and ended up getting only a fraction of that. You can argue whether those expectations were realistic, but that’s what they were. (As for the people who attack him more viciously — firebaggers and such — they seem to be addicted to outrage and a feeling of betrayal. It’s their high.) I’m less certain about the anger from the right; that seems less out of the ordinary (after all, at least they’re on the opposing team), and similar things happened under Clinton. I think racism is only a small part of it. And economic frustration probably acts as a force multiplier for all of these cases.

    (As for why people latch onto Obama in particular rather than Republicans and Congress who are really at fault, that’s human nature. Obama is a single, highly visible, human being, nominally the ‘leader’. It’s a lot easier to have strong emotions about a human being than about arcane procedural rules in the Senate. And in the case of Congress and Republicans it’s also the soft bigotry of low expectations. The media could be doing a better job, as well.)

    Anyway, this ended up being rather longer than probably made sense to write. But there you go.

    P.S. Our best hope for avoiding the various crises mentioned above, or at least the biggest ones? IMHO, (a) the Fed gets its act together, (b) the EPA gets its act together (and Obama stands up to defend it), (c) dumb luck. I’m not really sure what options Europeans have, besides (c).

  9. I really don’t know why there was so much opposition to his healthcare reforms. It’s almost like Americans actually like the broken healthcare system they have. From what I hear from other countries, including Australia, the American system is used as what you don’t want to get.

    Maybe universal health care wasn’t sold too well. While it is not perfect, it’s sure better than what I’ve seen in the US.

  10. Obama just doesn’t have the same amount of spin doctors that Bush had, if you can convince people that torture is a good thing in extreme conditions like the Bush administration then you are reeeally good at PR.

    Obama banned waterboarding in January 2009, strange that people miss that.

  11. It’s fantastic and super great that you’re filled with compassion for your fellow man!

    That said, how dare you support extorting money for this cause?

    1. Why do you say it’s “extorting money”? We already tax people for social security, wars, payment on federal debt, subsidies that go to businesses, etc. This isn’t even an outright tax; it’s an optional tax that you can avoid by being insured. Are you saying you’re opposed to Medicare and Medicaid also? Why?

      1. Ummmm….. Medicare and Medicaid are going broke after fewer than 50 years of existence. And have you looked on USAJobs.com lately? The gov is hiring a new batch of ARMED law enforcement agents who will work for Health and Human Services to enforce the new health care laws. This does not sound “optional” to me.

        There is more at stake here than what they told you. Wake up and smell the coffee!

  12. I think the responses to your blog indicate some of the problem. People have wildly different views. But fundamentally, I think Obama gets hate because:
    1. The media feeds on carnage. If a hundred things go right and three go wrong, the three get attention because it drives more sales and ad revenue. If Jesus was president today, we would all want to crucify him.
    2. The Republicans have spent the last thirty years convincing the public that the government screws up everything it touches. Never mind the roads, the fire departments, the police departments, the courts, the FCC, the FDA, the EPA, the CBO, Social Security, Medicare, and especially the military. Most people have bought the Republican message and picture a government involvement in anything like a combination between the Gestapo and Abbott and Costello: forced to do bad things combined with comical incompetence.

    I find the arguments that the stimulus package or health care reform are unconstitutional to be absurd. A literal reading of the constitution makes the EPA, the fielding of an Air Force, public schools, Social Security, Medicare, the regulation of rail, and the regulation of air traffic illegal. A literal reading of the second amendment says that Americans have the right to own their own nuclear or biological weapons. The authors of the Constitution of the United States did not address care of the elderly or medical coverage because in their day the average life span was dramatically less and most medical practice was one step removed from voodoo.

    I have yet to hear any suggestions from a Republican candidate that indicate they have a real plan for boosting the economy. Their cries for fiscal responsibility are especially absurd coming off 6 years of massive budget deficits when the Republicans controlled Congress under President Bush.

  13. As a registered democrat, I’m voting neither for nor against Obama as he’s not on the ballot this time around. I am going to vote against incumbent representatives, including Kanjorski, because they voted for tarp.

    1. And why that? TARP, by all accounts, prevented us from going into depression. And it looks like most of the loans in TARP will be repaid.

      It was unpleasant, but sometimes one has to hold one’s nose and do the unpleasant but necessary things.

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