Narrative Isn’t Everything and Obama Isn’t FDR

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It’s a little hard to summarize succinctly, but Jon Chait’s response to the much-forwarded Drew Westen New York Times essay is well worth a read. Chait’s conclusion:

Obama took office at the cusp of a massive worldwide financial crisis that was bound to inflict severe damage on himself and his party. That he faced such difficult circumstances does not absolve him of blame for any failures. It sets the bar lower, but the bar still exists. How should we judge Obama against it? I would argue that both the legislative record of 2009-2010 and Obama’s personal popularity level exceed the expectation level — facing worse economic conditions than the last two Democratic presidents at a similar juncture, Obama is far more popular than Jimmy Carter and nearly as popular as Bill Clinton, and vastly more accomplished than both put together.