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Answering Jonathan Alter’s Challenge « Commentary Magazine

August 26, 2011

Answering Jonathan Alter’s Challenge

Peter Wehner


“Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president?” Jonathan Alter writes in his column.

Alter tells us he’s not talking here about Obama as a tactician and communicator, and he’s not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about people’s generalized “disappointment.” (Neither am I.) He wants to know on a substantive basis why Obama should be judged to have failed so far.

In Alter’s words, “Your mission, Jim [or anyone else for that matter], should you decide to accept it, is to be specific and rational, not vague and visceral.”

Consider the mission accepted.

In one sense, the answer to the Alter challenge is obvious: Obama has failed by his own standards. It’s the Obama administration, not the RNC, that said if his stimulus package was passed unemployment would not exceed 8 percent. It’s Obama who joked there weren’t as many “shovel-ready” jobs as he thought.

It’s Obama who promised to cut the deficit in half. It’s Obama who said if we passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care cost curve would go down rather than up. It’s Obama who promised us recovery and prosperity, hope and change. What we’ve gotten instead is the opposite.

What makes Alter’s challenge particularly delicious is during the Bush years he spoke out about the importance of a “reality-based” presidency (as opposed to a “faith-based” one). “They [Republicans] could end up winning in November by distorting the argument,” Alter said in 2006. “But on credibility and the facts, they’ve lost.”

With Alter’s devotion to credibility and facts in mind, let’s take an empirical, reality-based look at economic life in America during the Age of Obama:

* Under Obama’s stewardship, we have lost 2.2 million jobs (and 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone). He is now on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era.

via Answering Jonathan Alter’s Challenge « Commentary Magazine.


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