Conservatives ask what characteristics describe President Obamas’ leadership and what accomplishments qualified him for reelection. In spite of an opposition party bent on obstruction at any price and throwing around inflammatory rhetoric like death panels, invasion of privacy and the boogey-man in the closet “socialism” his most prominent attributes include; confidence, assertiveness, congeniality, ambition, charisma, determination, vision, political courage, moderation, prudence and a deliberative, pragmatic idealism.
By any measure, the Obama administration has an impressive list of accomplishments starting with:
Steering the country out of an economic depression, rescued the auto industry, enacted the Affordable Care Act-which expanded health insurance to thirty million people and has already resulted in costs declining for the first time in years. By the end of this decade 95% of Americans will have health insurance and can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions or lifetime caps on coverage. The Obama administration has enacted credit card protections which mandates companies must include information telling us how long it will take to pay off our debt with minimum payments, it bans the abusive practices of jacking up rates without warning, shuffling due dates and adding a mountain of fees. It also places restrictions on the practice of luring college kids into mountains of credit card debt. The success of the seven hundred billion dollar federal stimulus program breaks down in round numbers to; $250 billion towards tax cuts, which we have all benefited from, another $250 billion invested in infrastructure towards badly neglected roads, bridges and highways and another $250 billion towards entitlement programs to assist the worse of families affected by the economic meltdown. In the last four years the administration expanded subsidies for education-an investment we have not seen in over thirty years. We have seen the largest investments in alternative clean energy in our nations history and delivered record tax cuts to the middle class, recovered a profit from the AIG bailout, enacted new Wall Street regulations and witnessed the greatest increase in wilderness protection in over a decade and the end to don’t ask, don’t tell.
Even as he was bogged down in budget fights with the Tea Party-controlled GOP House, Obama still managed the most sweeping overhaul of food safety laws in more than seventy years. Enacted the Lilly Ledbetter act, immigration policies, removed restrictions on stem cell research, presided over 30 straight months of job growth and appointed two women to the supreme court, one being the first Latina justice.
More impressively, on foreign policy he ended the war in Iraq, began the drawdown in Afghanistan, helped to oust Gaddafi in Libya, orchestrated new military and commercial alliances as leverage against China, tightened sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and signed the new START treaty with Russia, and shifted counterterrorism strategies to target Osama bin Laden and then ordered the risky raid that killed him.
All of which suggest that character and leadership is not shaped by a presidency, it simply reveals them.