In all of the speeches that I heard in Charlotte last week, I didn’t hear anyone praise President Obama for what might be his greatest accomplishment – getting us through almost four years, without some terrible national tragedy.
Consider some of the things that happened during the previous Administration:
(1) The 9/11 attacks.
(2) The destruction of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
(3) The global financial crisis.
(4) Instigation of the war in Iraq.
(5) The bailouts.
(6) $4-a-gallon gasoline.
(7) The collapse of the real estate market.
(8) The collapse of Enron.
(9) The collapse of Arthur Andersen.
(10) The first mass-missile attack by a non-governmental organization (Hezbollah against Israel).
(11) The London and Mumbai terrorist attacks.
(12) North Korea developing a nuclear weapon.
(13) The SARS epidemic.
(14) The August 14, 2003 blackout, with 60 million people losing power.
(15) Anthrax-tainted letters in the mail.
Now, tell me what similar disasters occurred during the Obama Administration:
The Democratic Convention lauded President Obama for his achievements. The Republican Convention flailed President Obama for not achieving enough – or, in the case of universal healthcare, achieving too much. But maybe both perspectives are wrong. Maybe President Obama’s greatest triumph is giving us respite, some small measure of peace, from the steady drumbeat of utter disaster, trauma and carnage that preceded his Administration. President Obama has successfully avoided all the bad things that could have happened, but didn’t.
Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, explained what a corrosive effect that one crisis after another was having on people and society. And now, under President Obama, the shocks – even the aftershocks — are subsiding. That is a quite a feat, no?
Let us give credit where credit is due. Here is my suggestion for a winning slogan for President Obama in 2012, just as it was a winning slogan for President Harding in 1920: “A Return to Normalcy.” Or Normality. Whatever — you get the point.