THE BLOG
11/07/2012 05:10 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2013

As Obama's Old College Professor, It's Time to Issue a Final Grade

Two years ago, as President Obama's former professor at Columbia University, I gave him a grade of B- on his 2010 midterm performance. He graded himself a little higher when asked by a reporter.

But after last night's win and Obama's lead up to that moment I'd now give him an A. He was always a quick study, and he worked hard for this change of grade.

Two years ago I chastised Obama for not learning the lessons I taught him in a course on politics and the novel. I said he needed to learn how narratives work and come up with his own counter narrative.

Last night he found that narrative. The story he found was a populist one. Rather than the vagueness of hope and change, he found a narrative about class. He discovered the power inherent in pointing out the financial inequality in this country. Casting Romney as the Rich Guy wasn't only a tactic but an accurate way of telling the story correctly.

The Republican narrative is that rich people are good because they create jobs and thus look out for the little guy. Don't take away their money, they say, because then the benevolent rich can't do all these good things. Obama countered this story by painting Romney as the heartless corporate raider who likes firing people and who won't even pay a little extra in taxes to help reduce the debt he decries.

The Republican narrative went on: government gives people handouts, but we don't need or want such welfare. Hence we want small government.

Obama's response: we aren't all rich and self-sufficient, so we need to help each other out.

And then Obama's narrative ended with a climax: Hurricane Sandy whirled in to prove that government isn't socialism but should be the conveyer of social responsibility. With a little help from associates -- both personal and natural -- Obama pulled off a successful all-nighter. He not only passed the exam -- he aced it!

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