Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) claimed that President Obama came into office in a crisis, and did not lead. Moreover, he suggested that the president did not recognize problems and push to solve them.
Christie must not understand the meanings of two words: "filibuster" and "abuse." Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filibustered almost everything the president tried to achieve. It was a record number of filibusters, from appointments to treaties to bills, abusing the power that was designed to protect minority views.
Republicans even blocked the president's Transportation Safety Administration nominee after the failed crotch-bomber. How much more reckless can their disregard for the safety of the American people be?
And they did it all this petty obstruction when the US has been at its most vulnerable for years: the calamitous legacy of the disastrous Bush Administration.
Nonetheless, despite unprecedented disloyalty to the American people by an opposition, President Obama's record of accomplishments in his first 33 months in office is extraordinary. Here is just a sampling:
1. He passed an emergency economic relief program, saving (according to multiple non-partisan analyses) between 1.9 and 3.5 million jobs.
2. Job losses that were occurring at the rate of over 700,000 per month were stopped.
3. Over 2 million new jobs were created.
4. The US auto industry was saved, and is now profitable again.
5. Tobacco is now regulated by the FDA, removing the carte blanche tobacco companies had to recruit children to start smoking cigarettes.
6. The Affordable Healthcare Act was passed. Millions of children up to 26 are now covered under their parents' health insurance. People cannot be denied coverage based upon pre-existing illnesses. Lifetime caps to coverage have been eliminated. The solvency of Medicare was extended by ~a decade. Small businesses have been provided financial help to enroll their employees in a healthcare program. Starting in 2014, an additional 30 million people will be covered by health insurance in the United States.
7. A Financial Reform law was passed, including a Consumer Financial Protection Commission to prevent people from being screwed by large financial institutions' misleading statements and actions.
8. After Republicans blocked a deficit commission with up-or-down vote authority, he established his own. He made an unprecedented grand offer to Republicans to reduce the long-term debt -- most of which they had run up -- and they rejected it.
9. Gay service men and women can now serve in the military without fear of being discharged because of their sexual orientation.
10. A "loose nukes" treaty with Russia was passed, reducing the chances for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear material.
11. Osama bin Laden has been found and executed in what John Brennan, the national security adviser who has been in several administrations, called the 'gutsiest decision' he had seen any President make.
12. Libya has been liberated from the ruthless dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, without the US losing a single soldier, and without the US getting bogged down in a land war in the middle east. And the president -- probably courageously in our political climate -- introduced a concept of 'leading from behind' that is a superb strategy, but perhaps not sufficiently bombastic for the chickenhawks amongst us.
13. Russia and China have been persuaded to agree to increasingly strict sanctions on Iran.
14. Carbon dioxide has been recognized as a pollutant and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
15. The auto industry and the government have agreed to rigorous emission standards for vehicles, to reduce over time not only air pollution but also the amount of gasoline the country needs to keep itself moving.
And so forth....
This is not to claim that each of these achievements is either perfect or even adequate (the financial reform bill clearly is not, and we will need to go further in healthcare reform), and it is not an argument on their merits, but rather about the president noting problems and pushing for solutions that Christie absurdly disputes.
Just as a simple contrast: where is the "replace" healthcare reform bill the Republicans promised after the House voted to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act? where is any jobs bill? what has Christie done in New Jersey to extend health care to his uninsured? what has job growth been in New Jersey under Christie?
Sure, I know, I know. Christie has shown remarkable courage, cleaning up snow from Florida, and reducing funds for education in New Jersey so he could lower taxes for businesses, canceling a partially built additional tunnel to relieve traffic into Manhattan.
That does not mean that there is not a realistic critique of the president's first two years. I myself have been dismayed by the president's "negotiating" style of agreeing in advance to what he perceives to be the final outcome, and then being pushed from there to more concessions. In addition, he does not respond to Republican attacks on his policies by shoving it back down their throats (e.g., he has never responded that Reagan and Clinton raised taxes in a recession, used the Republican false and destructive analogy of government and family budgets, and never challenged a Republican to point out a single instance in post World War II America when raising taxes resulted in reduced economic growth).
But, not recognizing problems nor having the courage to lead on them? Sorry, Governor, you will need a better lie than that one.
Christie's speech does, however, emphasize a major flaw in the president's approach. He does not take credit, so most people do not even know that most of this happened.
It is adult, mature, dignified, courageous, thoughtful and humble leadership. Not a single one of these adjectives applies to Chris Christie.
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