The White House Delivers A Reality Check to the Obama Bush Comparisons

obama bush split After Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested that those on the Left who claim that Obama is just like Bush need to be drug tested, the howls were fast and furious. Gibbs walked back his statements, but by attacking their cynicism, he exposed the Left's unrealistic expectations, and their annoying habit of pushing the Right's talking points.

After Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested that those on the Left who claim that Obama is just like Bush need to be drug tested, the howls were fast and furious. Gibbs walked back his statements, but by attacking their cynicism, he exposed the Left’s unrealistic expectations, and their annoying habit of pushing the Right’s talking points.

In an interview with The Hill, Robert Gibbs said, “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it’s crazy.” He also claimed that the expectations of the Left were not based in reality. They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

By the end of the morning, Gibbs had walked back his statements and delivered a strong argument for why Obama is not like Bush, “Some are frustrated that the change we want hasn’t come fast enough for many Americans. That we all understand. But in 17 months, we have seen Wall Street reform, historic health care reform, fair pay for women, a recovery act that pulled us back from a depression and got our economy moving again, record investments in clean energy that are creating jobs, student loan reforms so families can afford college, a weapons system canceled that the Pentagon didn’t want, reset our relationship with the world and negotiated a nuclear weapons treaty that gets us closer to a world without fear of these weapons, just to name a few. And at the end of this month, 90,000 troops will have left Iraq and our combat mission will come to an end.”

Marc Ambinder summed up the argument from some on the Left that Obama is just like Bush, “The idea that Obama is like Bush rests on the following argument: he’s escalating the war in Afghanistan (fulfilling a campaign promise), has failed to close Gitmo (more the fault of Congress than the White House), has vigorously prosecuted novel and potentially extra-legal counter-terrorism campaigns overseas, and has fleshed out assertions of executive power by the previous administration.”

I would add to the list of liberal grievances the slowness of movement on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the lack of a public option as a part of healthcare reform, and the sudden crib death of the card check bill, which was quickly suffocated and never allowed to get off the ground. Now it is time for a little bit of reality. Barack Obama has passed more major legislation in almost 18 months than George W. Bush did in 8 years.

Bush could not get any major legislation passed outside of tax cuts, the post 9/11 war authorization and the Patriot Act, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, and No Child Left Behind. For the majority of Bush’s two terms Republicans controlled Congress. While Bush was defeated by his own party on immigration reform, Obama has yet to be defeated on single major piece of legislation, yet the Left still compares him to Bush.

The Obama and Bush comparison only makes sense on an emotional level. Obama promised the Left fundamental changes in American politics. The problem is that change is a subjective term. When a candidate is trying to win an election, general and broad themes are better for appealing to voters than the narrow and specific. The goal is to get the most votes, while not turning anyone off.

The Obama campaign made sure that their themes were open ended, as any campaign should, but the combination emotionally draining Bush years, with the hopeful dynamics of Obama created a climate of lofty and unrealistic expectations, especially among the Left, and the most disturbing element of the Left’s criticism of Obama has not been the criticism itself, but the so called intellectual Left’s willingness to adopt Republican anti-Obama talking points.

Since Republicans have adopted the bizarre strategy of comparing every Obama mistake to their previous president, the Left has frequently been caught echoing these talking points. The Left got angry at Obama after the BP spill, and some echoed the “Obama’s Katrina” criticism. The Left has helped the Right in trying to label Afghanistan “Obama’s war.” Too often, those who are trying to tout their independence, do so, not with fair and factual criticism, but by mouthing Republican talking points.

Anyone who wants to compare Obama to Bush needs to ask what George W. Bush would have done with the same issues that we are currently facing? It is a pretty safe bet that there would still be big force in Iraq, the auto industry would be no more, there would be no escrow fund for the victims of BP, Healthcare reform would remain a distant fantasy. The economic answer would not have been a stimulus package, but more tax cuts, and 10 percent unemployment would be an improvement.

While I don’t think those who equate Obama to Bush are on drugs, I do believe that they are trapped in a fantasy land where the reality of political constraints does not apply. Obama can’t simply dramatically reverse course on issues of war and peace that have global consequences. Gibbs was correct to offer the critics on the Left a reality check, but ideological naivety is not equivalent to being high.

19 Replies to “The White House Delivers A Reality Check to the Obama Bush Comparisons”

  1. Thanks for saying how I feel. I’m tired of getting onto fights w my own party and those ideologues on left are no better than the right.

  2. Excellent analysis, Jason. Gibbs laid it on a bit strongly, perhaps, but I can understand his reaction. The left is as unrealistic in its expectations as the right is in its misrepresentations and President Obama is caught in the middle doing a not-at-all bad job of being president. If people would step back from the ideology they might see how much needed doing after eight years of misrule and understand that our president does not operate in a vacuum.

  3. Oh and PS any moron who compares Obama to bush is doing it to sound cool but it’s cleat they have no idea about DC. Bunch of whiners

  4. I am glad that you listed the accomplishments of Pres. Obama because it needs to be done on a regular basis. a very good post. Thank you

    I don’t like to say this but I think the Democrats are the most gutless people on earth. In some ways I would almost have to compare them to Republicans and that makes me sick. Democrats don’t seem to have the ability to stand up and fight for themselves. They appear to be the kids in the schoolyard who the bullies beat up. The Republicans are given us so much information to be used against them and I’m not sure the Democrats have it in them to do so. the Democrats should win every election in every state given how the Republicans have acted in the last two years.

    I am a little upset that we have not gotten out of Iraq completely, and out of Afghanistan as well. Both are unwinnable situations and I can only imagine the ghosts of the Soviet Union with tears streaming down their eyes laughing.

    let’s not forget that almost any legislation with the exceptions of war, stimulus, TARP and the housing reform bill Bush got through were passed by reconciliation. also let’s not forget the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This man was just completely dangerous and there is no possibility of comparing Pres. Obama to Bush.

    Democrats need to do a lot of growing up and learn to fight back. Otherwise the rightwing nut jobs will once again walk all over them, spit in their face, and laugh

  5. Summed it up perfectly right here:

    “Obama created a climate of lofty and unrealistic expectations, especially among the Left, and the most disturbing element of the Left’s criticism of Obama has not been the criticism itself, but the so called intellectual Left’s willingness to adopt Republican anti-Obama talking points. “

  6. Thanks for reminding about Wall Street reform which hasn’t reformed Wall Street, health care reform which is better for HMO’s then citizens, record investments in clean energy that are so embarrassingly superficial that they aren’t going any where near saving us from total ecological disaster, a weapons system canceled that represents a tiny percent of what is being wasted by the pentagon (not even counting the continuing war in Iraq and the escalated war in Afghanistan), and a nuclear weapons treaty that at best inches us closer to a world with maybe a few less nuclear weapons even while we threaten using them against Iran.

    But, you know, at least torture and discrimination against LGBT people in public employment is over (wait, not even that?)

  7. I think it’s fair to say that Democrats in the trenches are just as guilty of assisting the Right in their attacks. It’s one thing to make honest criticisms of the President but it’s another to fuel outrage over issues that are often not even fully in his control.

    I often think we have a nation of instant gratification people, who honestly can not see the long term changes being made.

    As for the Iraq war, we are drawing down there. Obama is keeping his promise on that and our troops are there on an advise and assist capacity. Contrary to the Left’s narrative, we have actually done some good things there. Yes, we SHOULD have – we had a moral obligation to do so — but that shouldn’t take away from our recognition that this president is implementing the foreign policy we all wanted.

    We reopened negotiations with Iran on the nuclear program and in going to Hiroshima, we strengthened our relationship the Japanese via a diplomatic gesture — again, the kind of foreign policy that we wanted and expected from Obama.

  8. For me this article exemplifies the fact that people will follow what they hear. In this case, the Republican extremist radio and tv machines are getting their messages out concerning Obama. The Left have no such machine to get their counter message out.

  9. You’ve got the office of POTUS, the majority in congress, the Washington Post, NYT, LAT, Chicago Tribune, CNN, Maddow, Matthews and Olbermann. Are they all just incompetent boobs?

  10. After 18 months in office, with main stream media using only GOP talking points, Tea Party madness and racism, and Democratic congressmen afraid of losing their seats providing little or no support or energy, while Blue Dog Dems play GOP undercover…I think Obama has done a remarkable job against all odds. And he has the grey hairs to prove it.

  11. Jason this is an excellent post. It presents the facts. Obama has accomplished major legislation in the last 18 months and whenever it takes place, the main stream media is broadcasting whatever the gossip tidbit of the moment is 24/7. The President gets no play for his extremely difficult workload or accomplishments. He was left a nightmare to deal with and he is dealing with it accordingly. The economy was falling off the cliff. Bush made an announcement and then quietly left office as if everything was ok. Everything was not ok. The US was crashing and burning outside of that 2% of the population who operate with billions of dollars, some of which is from our taxpayers and who continue to do so. So when you have to go up against that kind of power and money, you have to have support or it’s suicide. Obama is fighting hard for the hardworking people suffering in America today by no fault of their own. He has the responsibilities of the lives of soldiers who have to finish these two wars that Bush began but left in a mess and unfinished. He’s had to deal with disasters like the oil spill and the coal mine explosion that killed working men and cost a fortune. He passed legislation for healthcare and financial reform that took decades and was not accomplished by previous administrations. He continues to work on policies of the left. He has a fight on everything. The Blue Dog Dems and the GOP are the ones who stopped more legislation on the healthcare reform, but it has begun in spite of. The President saved the auto industry and is fighting now to save teachers, police and firemen. He fought for unemployment benefits. He is only one man. He does not have executive rights to do whatever he wants, and if he did, he would be harshly criticized for that. I say what is wrong with the left and what is wrong with the rest of America? This is a tough job. How about some support?

  12. and we have a Republican Party of No, led by your Queen Sarah, who decided that we now need a 60 majority vote instead of the 50 Bush used. But I guess you don’t really get the work part of being an elected official, since your governor quit on you.

  13. This is a liberal website, John. Can’t you read? And by liberal, they mean people who read and care about facts. Which obviously leaves you out.

  14. Few things are more giggle worthy than reading conservative Democrats make excuses for Barack Bush. I’m a swing voter between the Democrats and Greens, and I’m voting all Green this year.

    What Easley doesn’t realize is that the upshot of his argument is that the Democratic Party is a hopeless case. If expecting Obama to be different from someone as far to the right the majority of the time (not all the time) is wildly unrealistic, then there isn’t much reason to bother with Democrats.

    Personally, I’m not as cynical as Easley. I think Obama is failing to live up to what he should be doing in the White House, and I haven’t given up all hope that the Democratic Party will eventually return to offering a real alternative to the Republicans. However, going along with the way things are now makes it a practical certainty that the Democrats will be GOP clones forever.

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