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A Response to Common Accusations Against President Obama

Updated on September 8, 2012

President Obama is the Worst President Ever. (Yeah, right.)

Some people choose a political party. For others, the political party chooses them. If you ask me, I am a political moderate. People on both extremes of the political spectrum frighten me. But depending on the historical era, I would find myself in a different political party. During the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, I would probably be a Republican. In the 1930’s, I would likely be a Democrat. Over the course of history, both parties have changed their positions on issues and shifted to different locations on the ideological continuum.

When I first registered to vote, largely through the influence of my father and the image of Ronald Reagan, I signed up as a Republican. A few years later, due to the influence of some of those stereotypical, liberal college professors, my views shifted a bit, and I became a Democrat. Through the 1990’s, like many Americans, I was relatively disengaged politically, not staunchly devoted to either party. But when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, and I began teaching at the community college level, I decided it was time to be more informed about current events. Now, as I drive from school to school, NPR is playing in the background instead of the Rolling Stones and The Who. And through reading, teaching, and writing, in spite of how frustrated I get with many of the people I come across, I find myself thinking about politics more than ever.

As I reflect upon the last thirty years of history, one thing is fairly clear. The country, with the Republican Party leading the way, has shifted to the right. This has been particularly true in recent years, with the rise of the Tea Party indicating the strength of the libertarian wing of the party. And the social conservatives, who have been so crucial to Republican success over the past few decades, disturb me even more than the libertarians. So as I have heard several conservatives say in recent years, I have not drifted away from the Republican Party. Instead, the party has drifted away from me. Therefore, I might as well face it. I am a Democrat by default. So instead of trying to present an unbiased, balanced viewpoint as I have in past blog posts and in my book, I have decided that it is time to get a bit partisan. For while both sides of the political spectrum have been more than a bit extreme and exaggerated in their attacks on the other side, I seem to come across more extremist conservatives arguing that the Obama administration may be the worst in American History.

This post, therefore, is not an attempt to argue that Obama is a great president. Instead, it is a response to common attacks that, in my view, are rooted in extremist political rhetoric, caricatures, and exaggerations continually repeated by Fox News, conservative talk radio hosts, and the kings of conspiracy: right-wing bloggers. For anyone who believes that the Obama administration is the worst of all time has a pretty limited knowledge of history.

1) “Obama is engaged in class warfare.” Apparently, this is a reference to Obama’s plan to allow tax cuts to end on high-income earners and to raise long-term capital gains taxes. So if raising tax rates from 35% to 39.6% and capital gains from 15% to 20% constitutes class warfare, then you have to wonder about some of those socialists who ran past administrations. From the 1930’s until the 1970’s, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, income tax rates on top earners ranged from 63% to a high of 91%, and long-term capital gains taxes ranged from 25% to 40%. Apparently, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford were engaged in class warfare.

And even Ronald Reagan, who helped bring income tax rates on top earners down from 70% to 28%, supported raising capital gains taxes to 28%, arguing that income on investments should be taxed at the same rate as other income. So even he, apparently, had a little class warrior in him.

2) “Obama is a socialist.” If he is a socialist, he is a really crappy one. At the moment, we have reached levels of wealth inequality not seen since the 1920’s, the largest banks control a higher percentage of financial assets than ever before, and as Paul Ryan keeps reminding us, the poverty rate is the highest that it has been in a generation. If he were a real socialist, he would nationalize the banks and other major industries, put people to work with a fair wage, and start spreading that wealth around through government decree.

It's unfortunate that we don’t have a hard-core liberal like Richard Nixon around anymore. Here was a guy who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA, the Clean Air and Water Acts, and steady increases in welfare spending. And when gas prices got too high and inflation grew out of control, he implemented both wage and price controls to keep prices in check, eliminating what was left of the gold standard in the process. Now that’s what I call a liberal socialist. Too bad that he was carrying out “dirty tricks” and spewing a mountain of lies that make the Obama people look like saints.

3) “The Fast and the Furious is the worst scandal in recent memory.” I am no expert, but my understanding is that the justice department, in some ill-conceived attempt to go after Mexican drug cartels, managed to supply these cartels with a bunch of high-powered weapons. I guess that we can chalk this up to another moment of gross government incompetence. Of course, if you follow the logic of gun advocates, then members of drug cartels, like all criminals, are going to get guns regardless of any government regulations. This is supposedly why law-abiding citizens must be allowed to amass all of the firepower that they can. Somehow, I get the feeling that the “fast and the furious” had little impact on the ability of drug cartels to get guns.

Of course, for some people, the big scandal was Obama’s invocation of executive privilege to avoid handing over documents that would disclosi internal deliberations regarding this topic. Suddenly, the guy who criticized Bush for his love of executive privilege found himself resorting to the same arguments. Hard-core Republicans, however, like Democrats, are only outraged by the standard practice of withholding internal deliberations when the other party is doing it.

But is this one of the worst scandals in recent memory? This is only true if you have a short memory. The Iraq War, with its mass squandering of human lives and money, misplaced weapons, lack of post-war planning, and damage to our nation’s reputation, was a fiasco that makes the “fast and the furious” look like child’s play. I also seem to recall the heavily mythologized Reagan administration selling weapons to Iran to secure the release of hostages (while simultaneously bankrolling Saddam Hussein and the Mujahideen.) And I haven’t even mentioned all of the crap done under J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI or by the CIA during the Cold War. In the annals of American scandal and incompetence, the “fast and the furious” does not make the top fifty.

4) “Obama is eliminating the work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform act.” I will let “factcheck.org” dispel this exaggeration. They do this job full-time, and conservatives might be more willing to read their stuff than the ravings of a "crazed liberal" like me. So see the link below.

5) “What about Solyndra?” The government gave A $535 million loan to a solar energy company that went bankrupt. But the main reason that this became a big story was that the Obama people foolishly chose this company for a photo op touting his credentials on alternative energy. So when Solyndra went bankrupt, it became a photo op for Obama’s critics. But it is important to keep things in perspective. $535 million is chicken feed compared to some of the money that the federal government has blown over the years. (The budget is about $3.8 trillion, for God’s sake.) Plus, most of the Department of Energy loans given out in recent years have not gone belly up. In my view, the success of the loans given to American auto companies more than offsets a few poorly conceived investments in energy companies. And if the government stops subsidizing energy companies entirely, we will have some pissed off oil companies on our hands.

6) “Obama is anti-Israel.” If anyone who criticizes the policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu is anti-Israel, then there are a large number of Israelis and Jewish-Americans who are anti-Israel. In fact, if we follow this line of reasoning, then anyone who criticizes President Obama’s policies must be anti-American. For some Americans, Israel is apparently the only country on earth that deserves unconditional support from the United States. I doubt that an American leader would be classified as anti-British or anti-Canadian if he or she said anything critical about these nations. And if criticizing Israel makes you anti-Jewish, then pointing out flaws about Saudi Arabia makes you anti-Muslim.

I have more to say about the stimulus package, tax rates, budget cuts to states and cities, the national debt, and health care reform, but these are posts unto themselves (and will require me to review some more economic statistics.) If anyone cares about my views on health care, there is a link at the end of this hub.

Otherwise, I’ll have more coming soon, hopefully before Election Day. But if I don't get around to all of these topics, that is OK. I am supposed to be a history teacher, not an expert on current events. And I increasingly get the feeling that come next January, the Obama administration will be history. After all, if Republicans have been able to convince large numbers of people that Barrack Obama is the worst president of all time, it is clear that they do a better job of telling stories than Democrats.

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    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 4 years ago from usa

      Freeway Flyer

      A very interesting hub as to the history of today's politics. May I add some thoughts to consider in the near future.

      The oil/gas industries subsidies are $4 billion in comparison to the $9 billion that the alternate energy industries get from the government The Truth on big oil earnings. The big government wants ‘’ fairness ‘’

      http://whoownsbigoil.org/a-note-on-oil-company-ear...

      ‘’1) “Obama is engaged in class warfare.”

      Check out this link June3.2011

      Ryan and Van Hollen Debate Medicare Proposals 6/3/11 '' THE TRUTH ''

      http://foxnewsinsider.com/2011/06/03/ryan-and-van-...

      Rep. Paul Ryan defends GOP budget plan

      http://wn.com/Paul_Ryan_on_Fox_News_Sunday_with_Ch.../videos

      ‘’the success of the loans given to American auto companies more than offsets a few poorly conceived investments in energy companies.’’ Obama's General Motors [GM] Tarp Bailout - The Untold TRUTH

      https://hubpages.com/politics/Obama-General-Motors...

      Mark your calendar, on Oct. 3,2012 the first presidential debate will take place.

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 4 years ago from Worcester

      Very Good Hub voted up and interesting. This Hub made me think and but I don't agree with you on a few things

      1) Obama is engaged in class warfare. Taxes are not the reason. What the Left have done over the past several years, through rhetoric, is to attempt to convince the lower and middle classes that things would be better for them if it wasn't for rich people. Rich people (for the most part) will not support him, but the left has done a good job explointing the natual jealousy people can have for someone who has it better than them. Taxes are not the reason, they are the punishment.

      2) Obama and certain elements of the Left are Socialist. Obama is not a dictator. In order to change America he needs Congress and the Courts to agree with him and put his plan into action. Too many people disagree with him.

      3)Many administrations have scandals and they all are wrong.

      4) Remember when George W. landed the jet on the carrier and declared the war over? Solydra is Obama's carrier moment.'

      5) Good points on Israel!

      6) I believe at least socially, the country has been moving to the left for the last 50 or so years. It's just that conservatives used to be quiet. ( the Silent Majority) Now they are very loud.

      I clicked follow on your profile page. I can't wait to read other things you've written.

    • William Young profile image

      William Young 4 years ago from Eaglle Grove, Iowa

      Excellent article! You are certainly correct! Even though, I am pretty tough on President Obama in my criticism of him, he certainly is not the worst president ever. I mean, I don't think Millard Fillmore exactly lit the world on fire in his time, did he? In all seriousness, every president has had triumphs and every president has had failures, even the great ones including Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, and I dare say, even Abraham Lincoln. I think history tends to look more favorably at presidents once the years go by. Herbert Hoover is often remembered as a total failure for his unwillingness to respond in any meaningful way to the stock market crash, and the resulting depression. But Herbert Hoover was also a wonderful humanitarian who could mobilize a relief effort in foreign country like nobody's business. In President Obama's case, for all of the things I oppose him on, I congratulate him for the incredibly aggressive way he has gone after Al-Qaida, shooting terrorists in the desert with predator drones and giving the order to take out Usama Bin Laden. Obama is a hero for those efforts.

    • Freeway Flyer profile image
      Author

      Paul Swendson 4 years ago

      Interesting comments so far. The problem I have with accusations of socialism and class warfare is that they are impossible to substantiate. These types of labels are little more than opinion. I would prefer that people simply criticize specific policies rather than resorting to these labels. I don't think that Obama should be constantly singling out high-income people for tax increases, and he should have the guts to propose real entitlement reform. Unfortunately, he cannot resist the temptation to take advantage of these issues politically. When he laid into the people who ran massive financial institutions into the ground, I was with him. Unfortunately, he has not made a clear enough distinction between the foolish financiers and the people who earned money honestly.

      I think that the Democrats have plenty of flaws, but from my current vantage point, Republicans have more. We can't completely cut our way to fiscal responsibility, and raising taxes (on all Americans), based on past experience, will not cripple the economy. And favoring a certain degree of financial redistribution for the general health of the economy does not make you a socialist. Here are some more related thoughts:

      https://hubpages.com/politics/The-Myth-of-Individu...

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, Freeway Flyer. Both sides are certainly guilty of hyper-partisanship and excessive rhetoric. But this new GOP far exceeds past historic standards. They are blinded by their hatred of President Obama and then blindly lie about him. Thank you for setting the record straight on several points.

    • mio cid profile image

      mio cid 4 years ago from Uruguay

      good hub ,we must push back on all the nonsense and lies spewed by the right wing loons the talking heads and the tea party.

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 4 years ago from usa

      Freeway Flyer

      Your hub is quite interesting. President Obama holds the highest office in our government and sad to say he is not leading. Obama has not fulfilled the promises he made if elected.The 112 th Congress and the President can do better.The word is ''COMPROMISE''.

      1/25/11

      President Barak Obama delivers the State of The Union speech

      https://hubpages.com/politics/PresidentBarakObamaT...

      President Obama and Members of the 112th Congress Credit Rating

      https://hubpages.com/politics/PresidentObamaandMem...

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 4 years ago from usa

      HSchneider

      Just a reminder as to what is part of the problems.

      President Obama and Members of the 112th Congress Credit Rating

      https://hubpages.com/politics/PresidentObamaandMem...

      The missing link word is ''COMPROMISE''.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      I think Obama is probably "the best of a bad lot" really but then I don't have to vote for any of them.

      Thanks for being so fair to all the candidates.

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 4 years ago from usa

      Freeway Flyer

      Paul Ryan VP nominee previews first presidential debate 10/3/12

      recent poll numbers and talks foreign policy and the economy

      http://video.foxnews.com/v/1869261696001/exclusive...

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      Nice job researching some of the cookie cutter complaints that people have. I have learned that in politics some people choose to either have a short or long term memory, usually whatever is convenient to support their positions.

      The real unknown is if people will read this information with an open mind and possibly learn from it or continue to believe whatever they are told to.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 4 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      You say "What about Solyndra?" and YOU want to put it in perspective do you? Besides the fact the government has no right to pick and chose winners in the private sector try this on for size:

      Most Americans are asking,

      “Can the United States of America REALLY afford FOUR MORE YEARS of President Obama?"

      In May 2012 Obama visited a dusty, desert town 30 miles outside Las Vegas Wednesday to declare he’s doubling down on failed federal efforts to boost the solar industry which has NEVER proven to produce a single working product. Like Socialism, no evidence ot works, but they just keep doubling down on the failed ideals!.

      List Of Failed Green Energy Jobs & Companies – By Obama

      Solar Trust of America: FAIL! - Filed Bankruptcy in Oakland, CA, April 3, 2012

      Bright Source: FAIL! - Bright Source warned Obama’s Energy Department officials in March 2011 that delays in approving a $1.6 billion U.S. loan guarantee would embarrass the White House and force the solar-energy company to close. Bright Source lost billions of dollars but is getting more money to keep trying. Can you say, “This isn’t working Mr. President?”

      Solyndra: FAIL! - Obama gave $500,000,000 (that’s a HALF BILLION!) in taxpayer money to Solyndra who shut its doors and laid off 1100 workers in August 2011 after billions in losses due to failure to make a solar product that works! Barack Obama was not vetted before being elected President and neither was Solyndra before Mr. Obama threw that taxpayer money down the drain of unproven technology.

      LSP Energy: FAIL! - LSPEnergy LP filed bankruptcy protection and a sale of its assets in Feb 2012

      Energy Conversion Devices: FAIL! – On February 14, 2012 Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. and its subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy

      Abound Solar: FAIL! - Abound Solar received a $400 million loan guarantee from Barack Obama then announced in June, 2012 that it would file for bankruptcy. Many of these failed corporations, such as Abound, donated MILLIONS and continue to donate to Barack Obama’s campaign. Can you say, “Democrat Slush Fund”? Yes this is illegal. But Democrats are being protected from being prosecuted, for now.

      SunPower: FAIL! - SunPower stopped producing solar cells in 2011 at near bankruptcy then restructured with the help of, get this, oil giant TOTAL, Inc. who owns 60% stake in SunPower. Irony? The company is still struggling.

      Beacon Power: FAIL! – Beacon Power Corp filed for bankruptcy protection in October, 2011 just a year after Obama approved a $43 million Government loan guarantee. They remain barely in business, still struggling to make energy that makes sense or that works at all.

      Ecotality: FAIL! - ECOtality, a San Francisco green-tech company that never earned any money and remains on the verge of bankruptcy after receiving roughly $115 million in two loan guarantees from President Obama, who wants to do some more of this kind of Democrat Slush Fund Guarantees after he is elected to a 2nd term.

      A123 Solar: FAIL! - A123 Solar received $279 million from taxpayers thanks to President Obama’s Department of Energy loan guarantees even after the Solyndra bankruptcy and is getting another $500M from Obama after a loss of $400M.

      UniSolar: FAIL! - Uni-Solar filed for Ch 11 bankruptcy in June 20, 2012 after laying off hundreds of workers. UniSolar received even more Obama money after showing now progress, no profits and is still failing… yet they still remain in business with Obama’s help.

      Azure Dynamics: FAIL! - Azure Dynamics filed for bankruptcy in June , 2012 wasting millions in Obama “Stimulus” money and received abatement on taxes owed and and several tax credits. Azure Dynamics LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and the US. Azure laid off 120 of its 160 employees in Oak Park; Boston; Vancouver, British Columbia; and the UK.

      Evergreen Solar: FAIL! - Evergreen Solar received $527 Million in Taxpayer money from Obama and filed bankruptcy in late 2011. Evergreen, which closed its taxpayer-supported Devens factory in March, 2011 cut more than 1800 jobs. Evergreen’s $450 million factory, turned out to be a colossal “waste” of taxpayer money.

      Ener1: FAIL! Ener1 Inc. received a $118 million U.S. Energy Department grant from President Obama to make electric-car batteries but filed for bankruptcy protection January 2012 after defaulting on bond debt.

      Amonix Solar: FAIL! – manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, subsidized by more than $20 million in federal tax credits and grants given by Obama Administration, has closed its 214,000 square foot facility a year after it opened. 7/19/12

      read more: http://www.dividedstates.com/list-of-failed-obama-...

      (and Obama harps on a Bain failure out of many successes?)

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