Standing up to the three Ns – the NRA, Norquist and the neocons – the president guaranteed us a better second term
BY JOAN WALSH
You don’t have to like everything President Obama did in his first term – or anything he did, actually – to acknowledge he did a lot. He signed the largest stimulus bill in American history and the Affordable Care Act; ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden and ended George W. Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq, just to name a few accomplishments.
But he’s never had a month like this last one. In January alone, over the final three weeks of his first term, the president faced down three of the most toxic forces in American politics — call them the three Ns: the National Rifle Association, Norquist (as in Grover) and the neocons – and won crucial battles, if not the war.
On Jan. 2 he signed a deal that raised top tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, winning the first GOP votes for a tax hike since 1990, despite their solemn vow otherwise to Norquist. On Jan. 7, he appointed former Sen. Chuck Hagel his Secretary of Defense despite once-fatal charges that he’s anti-Israel — or worse, anti-Semitic — from neocon bullies. On Jan. 16, he rallied the nation behind a gun control agenda and issued 23 “executive actions” that shouldn’t be controversial but are, thanks to the way the NRA has controlled gun politics in the last 20 years.
And after flatly refusing to negotiate over a debt-ceiling deal again, on Friday he won a big battle with House GOP dead-enders. The overmatched Republican leadership announced it would back lifting the ceiling for three months, and if they cave this time it’s hard to see them mounting a challenge in April.