Biden > Obama
Sorry not sorry.
Two things: First, come hang out with me tonight and get smart about where things stand in Ukraine. I’ll be joined by Cathy Young, Ben Parker, and Shield of the Republic’s Eric Edelman.
I’m going to learn a lot from this conversation. I hope you will, too.
Tonight; 8:00 p.m. in the East. Only for members of Bulwark+. Look for an email with details soon.
Second: Do you live in the Raleigh-Durham area? Do you love Tim Miller? Well you’re in luck! Tim is coming to Duke next Monday, January 30, to give a talk at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and free. Details here. (Scroll down because there’s a link to RSVP.)
If I were anywhere nearby, I’d be going to this thing—and I already get to talk to Tim every day. So drop by and tell him JVL sent you.
1. The One We’ve Been Waiting For
During the live show in LA, I asked Jon Favreau, “How much better were Joe Biden’s first two years than Barack Obama’s first two years?”
I was kind of clowning on Favs, because he’s the OG Obama-stan and he was bearish on Biden 2020. And also because I don’t think Obama was an especially great president and I was bullish on Biden from the start.
But also, I was kind of serious.
Look: Obama wasn’t a terrible president. He inherited a financial crisis and got America into recovery. He deserves a lot of credit for that. He conducted himself with dignity in the face of many attacks which were clearly rooted in race. He seems, by most accounts, to be a genuinely decent man.
But even when you grade him from the perspective of the Democratic party—which is what I’m trying to do here—his record is mixed. On the plus side, he appointed two respected jurists to the SCOTUS. (It’s still amazing to me that Obama only got two seats filled in eight years. This, obviously, was not his fault.)
And he passed the ACA—which Democrats value greatly. But the manner of its passage made it an albatross around his party’s neck for eight years. (It was only once Republicans had the chance to actually repeal it that the ACA’s broader popularity manifested.) He spent so much political capital on the ACA fight that it became the last significant piece of legislation he passed. It cost Democrats 6 Senate seats and 63 seats in the House. 63!
Here’s a simple question for Democrats: Knowing now that the ACA was in large part responsible for the Republican return to power, which ultimately gave us Trump and a semi-authoritarian GOP, was it worth it?