President Obama’s approval ratings are so bad he’s all but banned from the 2014 campaign trail. In a cutting-edge effort to mobilize young voters with faded HOPE stickers, Rolling Stone fought back with “In Defense of Obama,” a bold missive authored by noted countercultural idol Paul Krugman.
Rather than a damning barometer of another failed presidency, Krugman explains, America’s current disgust and disappointment is actually a red herring. Obama isn’t just a decent chief executive; he’s “a historic success.” According to Krugman, “polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn't be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better.”
No matter what your partisan preference, that’s a load of garbage. Krugman’s twisted logic is hardly exclusive to liberals—or inclusive of all liberals—and it has plagued our country for long enough. Forget history. The present needs to vindicate the president, whoever he or she may be.
Before Barack Obama’s allegedly “transformational” presidency, George W. Bush also labored to make history fodder of us all. Surveying the wreckage of his foreign policy, Bush told Jay Leno he was “very comfortable with the fact that it’s going take a while for history to judge whether the decisions I made are consequential or not. And therefore, I’m not too worried about it.”
"History will ultimately judge the decisions that were made for Iraq,” Bushinformed CNN, “and I'm just not going to be around to see the final verdict.” A generous soul might detect in W.’s words more than a hint of modesty, a recognition of the human stakes that ought to humble our sense that the politics of progress is the last bastion of human greatness.
Then again, this is the same president who used his second inaugural to deny that “history runs on the wheels of inevitability,” only to assert, on our behalf, a “complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom,” charted by history’s literally “visible direction.”
These were not the isolated jabberings of a dry drunk high on Jesus, as Bush’s merciless detractors maintained. They were, and are, the credo of our age. You can revisit on your own time Barack Obama’s ludicrous paean to his own presidential nomination as the beginning of a Golden Age visible only from the pinnacle of the future.
In that speech, which he delivered in St. Paul the night he finally secured the nomination in June 2008, he of course took pains to lavish the garland of History on Hillary Clinton’s brow—as so many are once again prepared to do today, no matter how old hat she has become thanks to Obama’s own revolutionary gifts.
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PHOTO: Rolling Stone