We here in the blogosphere are like meat inspectors who watch sausage being made into legislation. We’re very informed. We’re ultrainformed. If our goal is to be happy, we’re too informed. But there is another way of looking at things, and Ezra Klein and William Saletan are kind enough to offer us that different perspective. What it comes down to is this. We elect politicians to get things done, not to get reelected. We hope that by doing good things that they will be rewarded by the voters, but the truth is that the New Dealers got pummeled at the polls in 1938 and the Great Society folks got hammered in 1966. Our current Congress got decimated, too. But history will record them in the same chapter as those two other storied progressive eras.
Simply put, the 111th Congress was one of the best congresses in history. We might not be feeling that way about them right now because we watched every move they made and we noted every compromise, every capitulation, and every failure. We didn’t do that in the 1930’s or the 1960’s, and there was no media outlet for those who did. We don’t focus on what didn’t happen when we read history. In the end, though, posterity will always look back at Obama’s first two years as one of the most consequential and progressive eras in history.