One result of the springtime of scandal for the Obama administration is that more and more, people see President Barack Obama as “owning” these issues.
The New Republic is one of Obama’s most reliable media allies. A left-leaning magazine, its editors claim to have “invented the modern usage of the term ‘liberal.’”
But in a recent edition, those editors used a telling headline: “Four Ways Obama Needs to Control His Spooks.”
The story concerns National Security Agency spying, particularly on American citizens. But it’s important and indicative that the magazine used the possessive pronoun “his.” The blame-Bush-first narrative is nowhere to be found.
“The White House’s response to the explosive revelations about the National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans’ phone records and e-mails has essentially boiled down to this: Trust us, we’re doing this for your own good, and we’re going about it the right way,” The New Republic says. “But the public is not buying it. The president’s approval rating has dropped 8 points, and only 37 percent support the secret spying program, which, as currently implemented, may well violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures. The administration needs to curb the excesses of its surveillance programs, so that whatever national security benefits they provide no longer come at such great threat to personal freedoms.”
The magazine is right; the NSA must be subject to more oversight and accountability.
So must the Obama administration — which for far too long has relied on the excuse that its predecessor was to blame. It’s an encouraging sign that more people — even within the Obama administration — agree.
“President Obama’s continued sequester attacks implicitly admit one thing: He now ‘owns’ the economy,” former Treasury Department official J.T. Young wrote in May. “For four years, America’s economic ennui was successfully attributed to his predecessor. Now beginning his second term, the ‘previous administration’ is his own... and so is the economy that comes with it.”
Michael Hirsh, writing for the (also reliable) National Journal, agreed. In late May, he credited Obama with “saving” the economy, but acknowledged that more could have been done.
“After the stimulus passed, Obama and his team took great pride in preventing the economy from falling into another Great Depression, while at the same time fighting two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq,” wrote Hirsh, a former Newsweek editor. “But he quickly grew distracted by other issues, especially by health care reform.”
That distraction continues, as Obama presses forward with a “climate change” agenda and the implementation of his still-unpopular health care reforms.
But at least he “owns” the economy now.
What Obama does now, and in his remaining two-and-a-half years in office, will cement his legacy.
That’s something even Vice President Joe Biden (a possible presidential contender in 2016) recognizes.
Forget Bush, the vice president said in a radio interview in 2011; “What’s relevant is we’re in charge.”
They are indeed. And Americans are paying close attention to what the Obama administration does.