Rachel Maddow: Obama Has Accomplished 85% of First Term Agenda in 2 Years

On her MSNBC program last night Rachel Maddow highlighted an often overlooked fact concerning the presidency of Barack Obama. Maddow said, “By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”

Here is the video of the segment from MSNBC:

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Maddow hailed the passage of START as victory for Obama, “If this treaty gets ratified tomorrow, it will be political malpractice to not call it an unqualified victory for this president and for this presidency. Reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles, working toward Ronald Reagan’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons, locking down loose nuclear materials so it doesn’t end up in the hands of terrorists, the whole smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud except for real?”

She highlight the ways that this is a win for Obama, “Getting this treaty ratified is a huge victory for President Obama and something that Republicans said they would deny him. It is a political win for the president because it has been on his agenda for a long time. It is a signature issue for him, a tactical win because Republicans said he wasn’t going to get it. It is a save the world win because if you care about, oops, it’s the nuclear end of the world you care about treaties like this getting passed.”

Maddow discussed how historic the past two years have been, “If the Senate ratifies the START treaty tomorrow it caps an astonishing period in American political history. For the last two years, Democrats have held the White House as well as big majorities in the House and Senate. The record of achievement in that time, even in the face of unified at times totally random republican opposition, Republican opposition even to things Republicans had proposed in the first place, unified Republican opposition to their own ideas? Their track record even in the face of that is historic. Whether you agree or disagree with what Democrats have done in the first two years of President Obama’s presidency, they have freaking done it.”

She listed all the accomplishments, “The fair pay act for women, expanding children’s health insurance, new hate crimes legislation they said could not be done, tobacco regulation, credit card reform, student loan reform, the stimulus — which in addition to helping pull this country back from the brink of a great depression, was also the largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the largest investment in education in our country ever. There was also a little thing you may have heard of called health reform. Also, Wall Street reform, the improvements to the new G.I. Bill, the most expansive food SAFETY BILL SINCE THE 1930s. And tomorrow, President Obama will officially sign a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Later Rachel Maddow delivered the kicker, “There are big things this administration said that it wanted to do that it hasn’t done yet. Energy reform, immigration reform, the bush tax cuts for the rich were extended, closing Guantanamo. Those are some of them. Today it looked like one of the important judicial nominees will not get a vote to become a judge this year. There is territory the White House has said it would like to cover that it has not yet covered. By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”

If you would have told policy people and political scientists two years ago that halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama will have accomplished 85% of his agenda, they would have laughed at you and told you how impossible that would be given the amount of polarization in our legislative process. If you would go on to tell them that after one year Obama would lose his 60 vote majority in the Senate, and would still pass major legislation the experts would have told you to seek mental help, but this is exactly what President Obama has accomplished.

What Obama has managed to achieve has not been seen in this country since FDR and the New Deal, and on a smaller level LBJ after President Kennedy was assassinated. The past two years have been historic, yet a small vocal minority of Obama’s base is upset with this president and the nation as a whole tends to give him little credit for what he has done.

It would be easy to blame his supporters and the American people for not paying attention, but that isn’t an accurate portrayal of what’s going on here. The problem is that Obama is not interested in victory laps, and publicly taking credit for his accomplishments. Obama wants to get things done, but the President has hopefully learned the hard lesson that if he doesn’t sell his own accomplishments, his opponents are more than happy to use the media to distort and tear them down.

Obama may be a great legislative president, but he needs to also be the Salesman in Chief. After the repeal of DADT passed he should have been out in front of the cameras with a statement. The White House needs to understand that the American people will never give Obama the credit he deserves unless he tells them what he has done. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, Obama has already had an unprecedented, for the modern era, run of success.

Obama will probably win a second term, but it is a shame that so many people don’t understand what this president has done. Recognizing the facts as Rachel Maddow did does not make one an Obama apologist, or an Obama cheerleader, but it is important to note that the facts don’t back up the notion that Obama is somehow a failed president, or unworthy of the left’s support. You may not always agree with what he has done, but there can be no denying the epic weight of his accomplishments. Obama deserves some credit, even if he refuses to take it himself.

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53 Replies to “Rachel Maddow: Obama Has Accomplished 85% of First Term Agenda in 2 Years”

  1. I’ve tried to be patient with people, but as you point out, it’s not their fault that they don’t recognize his amazing legislative accomplishments. I can’t help but wonder how much of this is related to race. Sorry, I didn’t start out thinking that would be an issue for him, but as the last two years have evolved, I can’t ignore that possibility. The old “raise the bar” for the first minority thing with the Left and pure racism by many on the Right.

  2. When President Obama won the election, it was the first time in many, many years I found myself really proud of my country and it’s citizens. Those who try to paint Michelle Obama as a racist for saying something similar, have not walked in her shoes. I am white and I don’t care what color someone is, I just want them to be qualified, compassionate, strong and smart.

    Rachel Maddow is brilliant. I myself had not realized just how much our President has accomplished. I put a lot of faith in Maddow and am so glad she is on my side. But then she works with facts so I guess she wouldn’t make the, Fox News distortion requirements.

  3. Thank you so much Rachel for publicizing this fact! I recently wrote to my senator, Harry Reid, and also President Obama about the fact that the Democratic Party is terrible at communication. This information accenting the accomplishments of the Obama Administration needs to be broadcast widely and often. If the news organizations refuse to do it, then advertising money needs to be spent on commercials (issue ads) and print advertisements.

  4. I know what President Obama has achieved in the face of unprecedented attacks and opposition from both the Right and the Left.

    I know because I’ve been quietly paying attention.

    There are millions of people just like me — quiet, but watching.

    Thanks, Rachel, for pointing it out to those who have been screaming their oblivious heads off.

  5. The things that Obama has done for this country will be felt for years to come. While people are frustrated and upset over the economic conditions, the legislation this congress has passed will help to ensure that the U.S. has a brighter future. I’m proud to have Obama as our President. He’s smart, pragmatic, and doesn’t act like he’s king unlike our previous president. While liberals rail against him and say he isn’t doing what they want him to do they’re right in that fact. But the reality is that liberals didn’t elect Obama alone the American people elected Obama. Not everyone shares a liberals point of view and they need to respect the fact that Obama has to respect everyone’s point of view. Even if the Republicans were trying to block all the legislation Obama wanted to pass he still managed to get some of them to vote for the legislation. So instead of complaining that Obama isn’t focusing on the issues you want him to focus on start acting. Join a group or organization that supports your issue and try to get others involved. Obama would love to see more people do that. Remember, he was a community organizer himself.

  6. Obama is a president who thinks along the lines of long-term strategy. That’s been the key difference between him and the short-sighted Party of No whose congressional members vote in terms of political expediency. I am happier than ever that I voted for him, not only because of his undeniable accomplisments but also because I shudder when I consider what the alternative would have been.

  7. My words exactly. Thank you. Qualified, compassionate, strong, smart–all the qualities needed for anyone who wishes to be President and actually govern the nation.

  8. President Obama alone doesn’t deserve the credit. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid deserve a great share of credit for helping to get his ideas through the House and Senate during a time of extreme GOP obstructionism and obstinance. Pelosi will go down as one of the best and most effective house speakers in U.S. history. The Democrats would have accomplished if more donkey party members had voted in November, however. And the costly tax deal might have been avoided, for example, if the window of opportunity didn’t appear to be shut and locked (and nailed down) through 2012. The Dems have to work harder at getting out the truth about their plans. The GOP is monopolizing the media because they are saying such strange things along with being the minority party right now.

  9. Thank you Rachel for the excellent rundown of accomplishments that Our President has had the foresight and moxie to stand up for and get done. I appreciate your deep command of the facts and your wry presentation of information. I too, am a quiet, thinking, working Black woman who is working one of those “take any job” and do it well; who feels the challenge of making ends meet. (I graduated from college in 2006 and WOW! it has been a heck of a time getting a good living wage job, I’m 56 and grateful that I even have a job right now.) I don’t see the GOP allied with any of the real working, middle class, regular citizens of America, who believe that we are better than the outright distortions and cruel demagoguery that passes for their form of communications. Stay strong, keep the Light and the Faith, there are more of us compassionate, thinking activist souls out there than they know. And we vote, and answer phones, and do the ground game work. Bravo!

  10. This is an astounding record for Americans. I hope that they(we) have the cajones to fight back against the madness that will be the House for the next 2 years. We have to hope that the US and the world will see what the republicans do with their term of power is corrupt and wrong. Their power grabs against the people of the US. They are facing an uphill battle to dismantle Health reform and they cant do it, but I hope they fight hard for it so everyone can see how little they care about America

    Grow a set Dems and independents, its not all about spending. Its by far about the quality of our lives.

  11. I would like to applaud the president, because he is not one to brag about his accomplishments, but merely get them done. The more people brag, the less people get done. Smart thinking, Mr. President. I would also like to thank Rachel Maddow, and Jason Easley, who, without them, I wouldn’t have realized this, myself!

  12. Thanks for reporting the facts Rachel. President Obama has and will continue to prove that he believes in doing business the Nike way, “JUST DO IT”! You resolve problems with your enemies not your friends. Sometime your enemy is only across the isle from you and not always across the ocean. Thankfully President Obama has been blessed with the humility to reach across the isle to work out issues for the benefit of the larger whole of the American people. We are blessed with a President that is wise enough to realize that he will need to draw upon his other God given traits such as strength, patience(but not too patient)perseverance, persuasiveness, team building, etc in order to make his term”s” in service a success for this country, his country, my country, your country, OUR COUNTRY.

  13. Not much of an accomplishment when you own the house and senate. I guess he really doesn’t aim very high. Let’s see how he does now

  14. The only thing different about Obama is the color of his skin. He’s doin all the same types of things that other politicians do. I’d be afraid if he said he accomplished everything he planned. When they start capping salaries of elected officials, to reflect the common mans struggle with inflation then it will be a step in the right direction. Elected officials are making more than skilled professionals and they have a lot more “perks”. How did civil service become so “rewarding” even when a “so-so” or “bad” job is done. Most other professions face legal battles/prison in the similar circumstances. Only when elected officials are blantantly obvious in their corruption is something done, and even then it takes a bit of time.

  15. As usual, I completely agree with you regarding racism. In my experience, that’s been the case 100% of the time. Coincidentally (or not?) every single one of my friends or family members that are rabidly anti-Obama and his administration are also avid Fox viewers.

    Great article Jason!

  16. Actually this is an accomplishment when you consider how much was derailed and stalled in the Senate. Having a strong majority still doesn’t guarantee a thing when there’s a filibuster lurking.

  17. “The things that Obama has done for this country will be felt for years to come. ” Damn right about you fools……

    You “political class” types really have your head in the sand Pathetic – really pathetic. – Yes, highest rate of poverty & food stamp use ever – he’s added more debt and faster than ANY president in history. He didn’t draft TARP but he came back from the campaign trail to promote it and vote for it…and since he’s taken office he’s added TRILLIONS more debt your grand kids will still be paying off. Who in their right minds would have appointed Bernake again?

    “my first act as president will be to end the war in Afghanistan and you can take that to the bank”….where he now has increase the assignations by remote drones 4X over Bush…and he has added MORE troops.

    180′ degree turn around on ALL of his campaign promises of: 1) Bipartisanship, most partisan WH in 40 years – 2) Gitmo (he’s now signing a bill authorizing – permanent detention) – 3) Transparency – his Admin actively fought the bill to audit the Fed – 4) Wealth discrepancy – now the greatest in 80 years under his watch and he just extended tax cuts for the Rich- 5) reign in wall street – record bonuses while main street starves & now the largest banks are guaranteed bailouts under the sham of the “Financial Reform bill”- end Lobbyist Control – more of them than ever .

    Oh yeas his “Great Society” health care reform bill which has already EXEMPTED over 100 individual companies and organizations – because it would cost them too much.

    Christ, I read these comments and want to tear out my eyes- you folks need to wake up and see it doesn’t matter which political party is in control —or just stay sleeping and know all is well because “your guy” is in office

    Chumps

  18. “The things that Obama has done for this country will be felt for years to come. ” Damn right about that you fools……

    You “political class” types really have your head in the sand Pathetic – really pathetic. – Yes, highest rate of poverty & food stamp use ever – he’s added more debt and faster than ANY president in history. He didn’t draft TARP but he came back from the campaign trail to promote it and vote for it…and since he’s taken office he’s added TRILLIONS more debt your grand kids will still be paying off. Who in their right minds would have appointed Bernake again?

    “my first act as president will be to end the war in Afghanistan and you can take that to the bank”….where he now has increase the assignations by remote drones 4X over Bush…and he has added MORE troops.

    180′ degree turn around on ALL of his campaign promises of: 1) Bipartisanship, most partisan WH in 40 years – 2) Gitmo (he’s now signing a bill authorizing – permanent detention) – 3) Transparency – his Admin actively fought the bill to audit the Fed – 4) Wealth discrepancy – now the greatest in 80 years under his watch and he just extended tax cuts for the Rich- 5) reign in wall street – record bonuses while main street starves & now the largest banks are guaranteed bailouts under the sham of the “Financial Reform bill”- end Lobbyist Control – more of them than ever .

    Oh yeas his “Great Society” health care reform bill which has already EXEMPTED over 100 individual companies and organizations – because it would cost them too much.

    Christ, I read these comments and want to tear out my eyes- you folks need to wake up and see it doesn’t matter which political party is in control —or just stay sleeping and know all is well because “your guy” is in office

    Chumps

  19. Please don’t frame your opinion as a fact. although he did not specify during his campaign, I assumed he wanted to make actual progressive changes, not Republican-backed, watered-down versions which arguably did not even lead to positive changes.

    So no, I’m not saying this because I judge politicians by how proud they are of themselves (????) or because I don’t pay attention, but because I DO pay attention, and I choose to decide for myself whether a piece of legislation is what a president or journalist claims it to be.

    any democratic president probably would have accomplished the same things, and possibly more if they catered less to the republicans. (Supposedly, they were poised to accept losing tax cuts for the rich if they had no choice.)

  20. Qualified? LOL. 2 Years in the Senate and now that is qualified? If you look closely you can see how he is laughed out of every meeting he has with international leaders of other countries.

    To me all I see is Bush V2.0. Tripled the troop count in Afghanistan, kept guantanamo open and blackmailed smaller countries into taking our tortured prisoners, renewed Bush’ evil Patriot Act with even more powers, and now he is silent on the TSA’s 4th amendment abuses. He has done nothing in terms of civil liberties as far as I am concerned.

  21. most of what you accuse the current administration of failing to do relates to cleaning up after the previous administration. when one goes to fix someone else’s mess, it may take more than initially thought. it’s amazing that the blame for current conditions does not fall squarely on the shoulders of the person who led us to the steaming pile and dropped us off, rather than the person who is throwing us a rope and ensuring that our grandchildren don’t end up in the steaming pile with us. besides handwringing and fingerpointing and making up new fake words, what do you thing the bush administration would have done left identical circumstances by clinton? we’ll never know because that administration took a huge surplus (some of our best times ever) and turned it all into dung in less than eight years. but you want it all fixed according to plan in two? this isn’t a kitchen remodel … be patient.

  22. I have to laugh at the bobble heads in here, the same that are in Washington. You seriously count the health care reform as a good thing? I guess it counts as a victory much like making the winning basket in the wrong hoop. I agree with universal health care, but not with the way it is being approached. A victory in the START legislation… it wasn’t Obama influence, it was Russia saying sign it without changing it or we’re backing away from the table, an increasingly powerful Russia is far more convincing than obama.
    There is nothing to be proud of with mediocre legislation that vehemently chases one slant. I don’t agree with extending the tax break, while I will enjoy it, I would have been just as well without it. The rich don’t need tax breaks, and it would have hurt the little guy, but when it came time to vote we would have put people in place who could draft responsible legislation. Applaud your president for his victories; those victories are nothing more than him winning in the Special Olympics.

  23. I’m not sure how Maddow came up with 85%; Politifact has him at 127 campaign promises kept, 40 compromised, 28 broke, 82 stalled, and 226 in the works.

  24. More liberal spin. He has continued the Bush Patriot Act, Bush’s Gitmo, Bush’s Warrantless Wiretaps, Bush’s tax cuts, Bush’s War in Afghanistan, troops are still in Iraq. So I don’t know who’s butt Maddow pulled 85% from.

  25. “The problem is that Obama is not interested in victory laps, and publicly taking credit for his accomplishments. Obama wants to get things done, but the President has hopefully learned the hard lesson that if he doesn’t sell his own accomplishments, his opponents are more than happy to use the media to distort and tear them down.”
    This is just laughable! How anyone can believe that he is not the most egotistical, arrogant, self-absorbed President in recent history is beyond me. He can’t go more than a day without giving a sad speech or having his face on TV. We’ve seen him more in the last 2 years than most presidents in 4 years.

  26. If you consider turning America into a radical communistic, radical Islamic, radically race-baiting and just plain radical country 85% of his first term agenda, then I guess you’re right…he’s achieved it with near perfection.

    May God bless the real America, and not Obamaca.

  27. Nonesense. I used to come home from work every day at lunch and everyday Bush was on the TV, talking during the day so no one would figure out he is lying. Almost every single day.

    I see nothing wrong with the pres being on TV, its far better than hearing from him once a month. If thats your only reason for calling him “egotistical, arrogant, self-absorbed ” then you on pretty thin ice.

    In fact its just a talking point. Already seen it. You won the golden yawn award

  28. He ran on putting more troops in Afghanistan, that was a given. the troops would not be out of Iraq yet anyways. He has pulled what, over 50,000 out of Iraq and there are no combat troops there. As for the rest of the stuff I am very disappointed. But not so much I want an conservatives entering the whitehouse even for supper or to wash dishes

  29. Yes healthcare is a very good thing although it doesnt go far enough. It for one reduces what the government spends on healthcare for people without care.

    So now its Russia telling Republicans to vote for the START treaty? LOL. Hilarious!

    No, the rich dont need tax breaks, and in insisting on it the Republiocans added 900 billion to the deficit. But they got it and Obama got a bunch of things he wanted.

    I am sorry to hear the Republicans work for the Soviets now

  30. No, he ran on putting more troops in Afghanistan and taking them out of Iraq. He ran on ending Iraq.

    Funny, the right wingers whined about him touching the Wall Street bonus’s saying it was wrong. Now he is in trouble because they get the bonus’s. Not sure if it ever occurred to you that Obama doesnt determine the bonus’s in Wall Street companys

    He has created more jobs than Bush, and has not raised the debt more than Bush did.
    http://zfacts.com/p/1170.html

  31. What people don’t realize is that keeping the war now at Afganisthan is much better than facing a 3rd worldwar scenarios if Al Quida and Taliban wins because we don’t want to fight. Most of the people in the USA forget the lessons of II world war(because they don’t learn history). This man forced to fight outside USA because of the politicians. Obama has achieved more than people would like to accept because they like propaganda rather than facts. Poor US education system!

  32. If those millions are being so quiet, how do you know that they’re are millions out there? Not trying to say you’re wrong… just doesn’t seem like there’d be any way of knowing lol.

  33. Rachel Maddow is a self proclaimed die hard left wing liberal. What exactly did anyone expect for a gay political commentator? Hip hip horay that Obama has screwed up the country so much in 2 years. How about that unemployment that we were told would not go past 7% by passing the rush stimulus? Maybe we’ll cram a couple more laws down your throat on christmas eve. Who will be cheering when the country is bailing out out the liberal spending states in the upcoming months?

  34. where did Rachel Maddow get 85%? I don’t believe that number at all. If u look at politifact.com u’ll find that Obama has only passed about 35% of what he campaigned on. I just don’t understand where Maddow is getting this fictitious 85%

  35. First off, Bravo Dough Boy, at least there’s one other person with more than half a brain. I suggest the rest of you start using more of your right brain so maybe you can see what the rest of us objective, sane, none partisan human being sees. That whatever puppet you vote for (left or right) it’s still a puppet. They are just doing what they’re told. They promise the world on the campaign trail and give you a pile of crap in the oval office.

    Another suggestion I have is before you start celebrating over these great victory bills. How about turning off the TV and stop listening to the mass media’s lies they spoon feed you and read some of these great bills. I don’t think a health care bill written by insurance companies is good for the people. Or the so called “FOOD SAFETY” bill backed by Big Ag. Anything backed by major corporations, where their motive is profit not the well being of people, is not a good thing.

    But if you just think I’m crazy. I will leave you all with a message from the late great Bill Hicks “Go to sleep America, your government has everything under control.”

  36. I just wanted to address Doughboy…You have your facts wrong about Afghanistan. President Obama said that he would end the war in Iraq. He also stated that he would concentrate on the war in Afghanistan. Which is exactly what he is doing. In all of the debates, Obama never said that he would end the war in Afghanistan.
    Second, the only reason he included the tax breaks for the rich was because Republicans would not pass the bill that included an extension in unemployment benefits for many people. So, he compromised. But, he still got a few tax breaks for the middle class and got the extension for people in great need of the unemployment benefits.
    So many of you seem to believe that compromise is wrong. I guess he is supposed to stick his heels in the ground and let millions of people go without some kind of help during a really hard time in our economy. Just so he can say he tried, and say poor pitiful me…like some past Presidents…I am not mentioning any names. You know who I am talking about.
    My mother died an early death because she was not covered due to prior illnesses. So, to have a health bill that at least can stop that kind of nonsense is greatly appreciated. NO…it is not everything I desired, but my mother may still be alive had this bill been passed 4 years ago.
    This was written by someone else: I’m not sure how Maddow came up with 85%; Politifact has him at 127 campaign promises kept, 40 compromised, 28 broke, 82 stalled, and 226 in the works.
    40 compromised promises says a lot about the Senate and the House to me. This is a democracy, not a monarchy. He is the first President in a very long time to really want to give and take to get things done. With the 28 promises broken, let’s look at why they were broken. 82 stalled…stalled by who? His opposition. Democracy in action.
    Personally, I like seeing the President speak and letting me know what his plan is. He does want to people to know that he is working for us. It reminds me of FDR and his weekly speeches on the radio to ensure the people that he always has the countries best interest at heart.
    You might say I am another one of those silent millions that see that Obama is working to get things done. We just don’t make a lot of noise…hence, the silent part. It is always the far left or far right making the news. Which is how our society likes it. No one would watch me, if I spoke this way on television. People want the dirt and the mud slinging. Unfortunately, it is just the way it is.
    I consider myself one of those middle of the road people. I look at what matters to the country as a whole, and not just my idea of utopia. I think about what utopia would be for everyone. Then, I get out there give my support. I think that is why I appreciate this President. A man who if he does have to compromise or change his mind, he doesn’t stay silent. He speaks to us. Let’s face it, America needs it. It may not be 85 percent, but it is pretty impressive.

  37. Example of the “race issue” which dropped my jaw came from MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, of all quarters. Following this year’s State of the Union address, he was praising the erudition displayed by the President and capped his analysis with the comment “I forgot he was black.” That was one WTF moment for me, I’ll tell you, because I count myself to be as bigoted as anyone and the only times I remember “the President’s black” is when he cooly shrugs off the latest round of scurrilous invective and hectoring… as with the Bret Baier interview on FixNews earlier that month, for example (watching that fiasco, I could think only of one person, Jackie Robinson).

  38. Not sure how you measure qualified, Joe. For instance, can you name the only President in your lifetime who ever actually met a payroll? I’ll give you a hint: he was derided as “a peanut farmer.”

    Or perhaps you prefer legislative background? Well, I can think of someone who served four terms in the House of Representatives and eight years in the Senate before moving on to the Executive branch for two full terms… and yes it turned out tragically for this country, the fact Al Gore never really wanted the Presidency.

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