President Barack Obama talks with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (!) to express his concern for citizens of that state impacted by the unprecedented fires, during a phone call in the Oval Office, Sept. 7, 2011. (White House/Pete Souza)
Two long-form must-reads on the Obama presidency have appeared this week. One looks forward to the election, the other back at his presidency.
In the New York Times, Nate Silver does the kind of data-based, comprehensive analysis of Obama's re-election prospects that he specialises in, and which somehow makes all other pundits seem strangely redundant. You have to read the whole thing, but here are the concluding paragraphs (spoiler alert!):
Average these four scenarios together and the probabilities come out to almost exactly 50-50. A month or two ago, when Perry and Romney appeared about equally likely to be the Republican nominee, it would therefore have been proper to think of the election as a toss-up.
With Perry having slumped in the polls, however, and Romney the more likely nominee, the odds tilt slightly toward Obama joining the list of one-termers. It is early, and almost no matter what, the election will be a losable one for Republicans. But Obama’s position is tenuous enough that it might not be a winnable one for him.
In the New York Review of Books, Ezra Klein has a brilliantly written review of Ron Suskind's controversial book about Obama's management of the economy. Klein is entertainingly scathing about the book's cheesy style, unexamined biases, and glib level of analysis. He concludes with an assessment of Obama's record that I think is probably close to spot-on:
He gave America hope. He made America believe he could deliver change. And, by the standards of Washington, he has probably done more than anyone could rightly have expected. Stimulus, health care reform, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the payroll tax cut, new tobacco regulation—this is much more than your average first-term president achieves. But by the standards of the speeches and spirit that animated Obama’s campaign, he has not done nearly enough.
Link to Silver.
Link to Klein.