“Fail.” You keep using that word . . .

Since my brother and I appear to be communicating by blog these days (::waving::  Hi, Bruce!), I’d like to respond to this post* by paraphrasing my second favorite movie line:**  “‘Fail.’  You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.

Republicans are fond of saying that Obama is a failed president, that his policies have failed, and that there’s just a whole lot of fail going on.  The only possible definition they could have in mind for the word “fail” is “not doing what Republicans would like a president to do.”  Because by any reasonable, apolitical, measure Obama is a resounding success.  I’d really like to know how the definition of “fail” accounts for:

  1. Killing bin Laden.
  2. Saving the US auto industry.
  3. Repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” ending defense of DOMA in court, and supporting marriage equality.
  4. Supporting the overthrow of Gaddafi.
  5. Signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
  6. Getting us out of an expensive and destructive war we should never have started.
  7. Appointing two righteous women to the Supreme Court.
  8. Passing Obamacare.
  9. Passing the Stimulus.
  10. Passing Wall Street Reform — not enough, but it’s better than nothing.

This is just sort of Amy’s top ten; there are a number of websites devoted to listing the President’s accomplishments, including

There are, in fact, several very business-oriented metrics that suggest President Obama is a success.  For example, the Dow was at about 8,000 when Bush left office; it closed at 12,820 on Friday.  (This continues the general trend that the Dow likes Democratic presidents much more than Republicans.) And Corporate profits are way up under Obama.   So, um, “socialist” doesn’t mean what they think it means either.

I think that leaves for the definition of “failed” when used as an adjective in the Republican mantra “failed president” such things as

  • Failing to cut taxes for millionaires.
  • Failing to appoint Federalist Society members to the Supreme Court.
  • Failing to leave the health of our citizens to the mercies of the perverse incentives of the insurance industry.
  • Failing to continue the war in Iraq.
  • Failing to not be concerned about bin Laden.

Ultimately, it is perfectly reasonable for Republicans like my brother to disagree with Obama.  But calling his administration “failed” seems like a weirdly transparent but ultimately content-free branding campaign.

*************

* The upshot of Bruce’s post is that all teen-age boys do cruel things, so we should not judge Mitt Romney by his decision to assault a classmate to cut off his hair or physically trick a blind teacher into walking into a door.   I don’t think any of my brother’s escapades (he takes the fifth but I’m aware of at least some small percentage of them) rise to the level of cruelty the Washington Post article describes of Romney.  But if in fact all boys do these things, perhaps it’s time to elect a girl to the presidency.

** My favorite is “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna.  Never will.”  Don’t ask me why.  I have actually used this quote on opposing counsel, though not to his face.  We have an opposing counsel who has, on his voice mail, a pompous quote-of-the-day, which you have to listen to, all the way through, before leaving him a voicemail.  It’s generally something from Gandhi, or the Buddha, or a Hallmark card, and it’s often very long, with no option to push # and just skip it.  After several years of superhuman effort exerted toward not saying, “Dude, you are working your ass off to deny the civil rights of people with disabilities; stop it with the quotes, already,” I finally left him two quotes of my own.  The first was this one; the second was “I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused.”   No reaction to either one from him, but I cracked myself up!

1 thought on ““Fail.” You keep using that word . . .

  1. Daniel Grabois

    There was a terrible bullying problem at my high school. I was bullied, and so were most of my friends. We were the nerds, and we suffered for it. It is possible that some of those responsible for the bullying have grown up and regret their actions, but it is possible that they haven’t. In any case, I am not eager to vote for any of them for president.

    As for whether Obama has failed, it all depends on your “metric” (not sure if I used that correctly – first and probably last time I’ll ever write it). If failure means the economy is still lousy, then yes. If success means things are much better than they would have been under a Republican, than no (but it is awfully hard to measure). He has failed to nail down a healthcare solution, which is perhaps good news to your brother and bad news to you and me. He has failed to live up to his soaring rhetoric in the campaign, and many liberals are disenchanted. He has had lots of behind-the-scenes successes. He has found and killed Bin Laden – perhaps even Republicans could agree that that is a success.

    But if your idea of success is that the rich get way richer and don’t have to worry about ever paying taxes, then he is a giant failure. And if you hate his policies, the thought that he might one day figure out how to wield political power must be terrifying. If you think business should have free reign, without any governmental force regulating it, then Obama is a nightmare. Most of all, if you think the invisible hand of the market provides the solution to all our problems, then Obama has completely failed. How anyone can hold these views is beyond my comprehension, but many do, including some very smart people. I’m still waiting for them to explain their views to me in a way that makes any sense.

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