Barack Obama — April 22, 2012 at 10:49 am

This President’s Greatest Accomplishment


It’s not keeping Palin out of the White House, but that’s close.

Can I share with you the most offensive thing I’ve read since I last accidentally read chyron on the Bill O’Reilly show?

David Greenberg writes in The New Republic:

Because Barack Obama has accomplished relatively little in his first term—boxed in by a recalcitrant Republican opposition, the sluggish economy, and a mound of debt—it’s tempting to hope that, should he win a second term, he’ll be free to pursue an unbridled liberal agenda.

Because Barack Obama has accomplished relatively little? Compared to who FDR? Lincoln? Johnson? Thomas Edison?

Even Bill Clinton will admit that this president has had more progressive achievements in his first term that Clinton put together in eight years of peace and prosperity.

Forget ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Forget Student Loan Reform, Credit Card Reform, creating Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Forget expanding Medicare and Medicaid while ending pre-existing conditions. Forget saving the auto industry and putting four million Americans back to work despite a Republican party imposing austerity on the state and local levels. Even forget making the historic choice to go after bin Laden. All of those things are somewhat reversible, unfortunately.

What isn’t reversible is the President’s greatest accomplishment: Ending the Iraq War.

But he gets almost no credit for this. On the right, they say he was just following Bush’s timeline and we should still have troops there to prevent a civil war. On the left, they say he was just following Bush’s timeline and we still have thousands of contractors in a giant embassy.

Both sides forget history. As Barack Obama was winning the 2008 election on the issue of the Iraq War, he changed the debate and forced the timeline that Bush adopted.

From July 18, 2008:

In a stunning diplomatic breakthrough for Barack Obama, Iraq’s prime minister yesterday endorsed the Democratic candidate’s 16-month timeline for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq.

The timeline Bush adopted was never Bush’s timeline. It was Obama’s. (That’s why he won the Nobel Peace Prize, in case you’re wondering.) The privatization of the military as described in Rachel Maddow’s Drift made getting out a bit easier. But ending this war was a mission this man adopted as a State Senator and achieved as President. Denying that only reveals your bias.

Barack Obama won the presidency of the United States by promising to end the Iraq War and he did so in his first term. Ending a war is much harder than starting one. And being honest about war is the most difficult task of all.

[CC image by The U.S. Army.]