In the Arena

Sky Still Falling

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Pete Wehner, the former Bush Assistant Commissar for Pretentious Propaganda, has taken a break from his near-daily attacks on E.J. Dionne to predict once again, the imminent collapse of the Obama Administration:

The Obama presidency is struggling badly right now — and things will, I think, get worse rather than better.

The cause for this? James Carville’s recent ranting about the oil spill. Now there’s plenty of blame for the spill to go around, including the Obama Administration’s lugubrious reaction to the stink emanating from the Minerals Management Service–although the heart of problem, clearly, was the Bush Administration’s pro-oil, anti-government non-regulatory policies–but… “struggling badly” with things about to… “get worse?” This is the sort of uninformed ice-skating that Wehner was happy to criticize when journalists did it–and did it with greater cause, truth be told–during the days when he was peddling bullpucky for Karl Rove. Wehner, hilariously, has made eschatalogical predictions about the Obama Administration with a Tourette’s-like frequency. I’m sure someone, maybe Jon Chait, is keeping track of the silliness.

The truth is, the Administration has  a mixed record at the moment. It has achieved historic success with its economic responses to the Great Recession, including the stimulus package, and is about to win a big Financial Reform bill. Its health care plan is a step in the right direction that will need some fixing down the road (especially in the areas of tort reform and the need to shrink or eliminate Medicaid by moving recipients into market-oriented health care exchanges). Its foreign policy has largely rectified the bombastic bellicosity of the Bush years…although there are real problems with the war in Afghanistan right now.

In short, some policies have been successful and others not so, but the overall grade is incomplete–with Obama’s poll ratings standing higher than Reagan’s or Clinton’s at a similar moment in their presidencies. Pete may be right that Obama is headed for failure…or he may be wrong; I’m quite confident that he really doesn’t have a clue.