Andrew Sullivan: Fournier Digs In:
Like many other veterans of the Village... Ron Fournier... never liked... Obama.... [The] repudiation of so much that came before... rankles.... And so Fournier’s dogged and constant attempts to drag this presidency to the low levels of its predecessor.... The latest is a classic, down to its melodramatic title: “This Is The End Of The Presidency”... so preposterous and lazy an argument it beggars belief.
Here’s the gist.... Obama, like Bush... began his second term by going far out on an ideological limb. If only Obama had listened to Fournier! The president would never have supported immigration reform (even though it was temporarily deemed even by Republicans as the sine qua non)... would have... abandoned the healthcare reform... would have chosen to “spend [his] political capital wisely, taking advantage of events without overreaching,” as Fournier brilliantly suggested a year ago in a far-seeing column of surpassing prescience and non-falsifiable vagueness.
So he would have seized on Sandy Hook by proposing a moderate package of gun control, with overwhelming public support, right? Wrong! He shouldn’t have done that either! What should he have done? Er, hard to tell from Fournier’s column, which... lumps together random things he doesn’t like about Obama and compares them with random things that everyone now concedes were dreadful under George W. Bush.
But what Obama shouldn’t have done is:
rub Republican faces in defeat. Obama forced his rivals to accept higher taxes on the wealthy. It was his prerogative; he won the election. And he set the tone for a harsh and humiliating 2013.
Let’s just unpack that a little.... If Obama had done nothing at the end of 2012, tax rates would have gone up dramatically.... Obama... halv[ed] the total tax increase and concentrating it only among the very rich, whose wealth and incomes had exploded since 2000. On spending, the sequester remained in place.... Talk about liberal over-reach! This decision to prevent much larger automatic tax rises and to reduce spending and the deficit by these amounts during a still-lingering downturn is what Fournier regards as rubbing “Republican faces in defeat.” Seriously.
But Fournier is not done yet.... Bush’s first term success was--wait for it--the Iraq War, whose core casus belli Bush had lied about. And so obviously the analogy with Obama is to the ACA, a first term success some of whose provisions Obama had also lied about.
How does one note that a war that killed more than a hundred thousand people, and destroyed America’s moral credibility and global power is not really in the same universe as a health reform law, modeled on a Republican governor’s?... I guess it’s possible to see both things as equivalent.... But then, according to Fournier, both Bush and Obama failed to cop to errors! Yes, Obama had that brutal press conference where he owned up completely to failure on Healthcare.gov, and beat himself up again and again in apologizing. But that, according to Fournier, wasn’t any better than Bush’s flailing around in the obvious catastrophe of Iraq.... The difference between Obama’s response to error and Bush’s is the difference between night and day.
Ditto the difference between partisan Democrats keeping after Bush in 2005 (while never voting to curtail his war and acquiescing in most of its abuses) and the near-pathological attempt to destroy Obama by Republicans in 2013. What was stunning this year was the revelation that the GOP was prepared to wreck the entire global economy and the credit of the US government, if it could get them one small political edge over a re-elected president. This negotiating tactic was a new level of extremism.... All these critical, central facts for the last five years do not fit anywhere in Fournier’s analysis...