Let's stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats' fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he bends over.
So what exactly are our prospects and alternatives?
Absent radically different policies, an economic depression will continue indefinitely. This is not a "Great Recession" in the New York Times' cute pun. It's a depression, made up of persistently high unemployment, reduced consumer purchasing power, damaged banks, and business unwillingness to invest, just like the 1930s. Unemployment is not quite as severe, but measured properly it is around 18 percent. And unlike in the 1930s, we don't have a strong Democratic president using activist government to dig our way out.
With Congress deadlocked, the second best course in these circumstances is to offer progressive policies that will cure the depression, and beat the stuffings out of the Republicans for blocking them. But that is simply not going to happen because that is not who Obama is. His style is not to draw bright lines, but to blur them.
Absent that kind of leadership, the Republicans going onto 2012 will succeed in blaming the continuing crisis on Obama and the Democrats. Obama is rapidly becoming our Herbert Hoover.
Absent such challenge, it's not difficult to see where this Obama-turned-Republican is leading (and it does not suggest much future for people like us, in our income bracket, living in this country). Which is an incredibly painful, serious thought.