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Obama's Political Triumphs PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, August 06 2015 14:30

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    “I know that there’s much more we have to do, but the news isn’t all bad … 10.9 million new jobs. 10 million more Americans with health insurance. Manufacturing has grown. Our deficits have shrunk. Our dependence on foreign oil is down. Clean energy is up. More young Americans are graduating from high school and earning college degrees than ever before …”
    This parade of achievements comes from my friend, Gerry. It’s his way of inviting me to a New Year’s Day party at his home.
    Yes, his words are full of Democratic boasting. But the friends who arrived share his views. At least most of us.
    I do myself. Though I recognize some Obama failures, I also celebrate his accomplishments. In my view, he has served us remarkably well.
    But I reside in a civic community that lives and breathes Democratic. If I remember correctly, the president received 80 percent of our city’s vote in 2012.
    That’s the way it was for me when I was a boy. I remember thinking that Catholics like me had to vote Democratic. It came as a shock to discover Catholics in the Midwest (some of them friends and relatives) who chose to be Republicans.
    Currently, I’m worried about the new Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. People like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell frighten me. But not as much as do Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
    Will they be able to undo Obama’s achievements? Bringing into existence the Affordable Care Act still strikes me as one of this president’s best actions. When you consider how many of his predecessors failed to create health care reform, this feat has to be honored.
    His opponents in Congress have disagreed, voting repeatedly to repeal or delay the law. Meanwhile, Obama can take satisfaction in the growing popularity of the reforms instituted by the ACA.
    The president’s handling of the Great Recession also deserves credit. We suffered a considerable blow in 2008-09, but the economy survived and is beginning to prosper.
    The markets have enjoyed a remarkable year; but most of us, like Gerry, take greater satisfaction in the creation of so many new jobs.
    My party-giver’s list does not include Obama’s Cuba break-through. The president has pulled off an amazing coup with more than a little help from Pope Francis, and from some Boston-based peacemakers as well.
    Some Republicans, like Marco Rubio, would have had us continue the embargo that has served us so badly for so long. The president deserves credit for recognizing that the moment for change has arrived and he would even have welcomed some bipartisan support for his decision.
    I would have welcomed in Gerry's account of President Obama's accomplishments, a statement about the Senate; Intelligence Committee's criticism of the use of torture by the CIA. American religious leaders, including thje Catholic bishops, acted to condemn the U.S. use of such torture as violations of human dignity.
    Back to Gerry's party, many of us will find it difficult to see a Republican holding our Massachsetts governorship. But, if the press has it right, Charlie Baker seems to have some fine xharactership for the role. 
    He has already chosen several Democrats for his cabinet.  Unfortunately, however, his choice for education secretary seems a person excessively focused on charter schools.
    Others at the party, of course will have honored my status as a longstanding Democrat. By now i probably rank as the oldest among those who can claim old age. Usually they show themselves ready to give me one of the living room chairs that will ease pressure on my knees. 
    Let's raise a glass to a year bund to surprise us, politically and otherwise.