The good news is that the first two years of the Obama administration—the time when a president is most able to get the most done—have been historically accomplished (see here for proof). This despite some misconceived compromises (particularly the size of the stimulus, which we'll get to), some fatallegislative passivity and struggles in messaging—much of this has to go down to Nancy Pelosi's tenure as Speaker of the House, historic in more ways than one.
And Don't Ask Don't Tell may very well be repealed in December or January.
The bad news is much smaller than the policy positions emblazoned on your average Tea Party sign, but more comprehensive and significant.
Last month, John R. Judis wrote for The New Republic about the GOP Congress's decades-long war on regulatory agencies like the EPA—it's a chilling piece, finding the hard numbers to go along with the general perception that the GOP pretends to hate the government so they can run the government and then gut the government for the sake of people who stand to profit from lax environmental standards, say.
Judis was back overnight with an even more depressing piece (though perhaps a more hyperbolic one). It's called "Here Comes a Lost Generation," though it pretty much suggests that the author is done with America permanently:
Many voters have concluded that Obama’s stimulus program actually contributed to the rise in unemployment and that cutting public spending will speed a recovery. It’s complete nonsense, as the experience of the United States in 1937 or of Japan in the 1990s demonstrated, but it will guide Republican thinking in Congress, and prevent Obama and the Democrats from passing a new stimulus program. Republicans will accede to tax cuts, especially if they are skewed toward the wealthy, but tax cuts can be saved rather than spent. They won’t halt the slowdown. Which leads me to expect that the slowdown will continue—with disastrous results for the country.
And that’s only what one can expect over the next few years. Like the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, this slowdown was also precipitated by the exhaustion of opportunities for economic growth...
Instead, when America finally recovers, it is likely to re-create the older economic structure that got the country in trouble in the first place: dependence on foreign oil to run cars; a bloated and unstable financial sector that primarily feeds upon itself and upon a credit-hungry public; boarded-up factories; and huge and growing trade deficits with Asia.
So what happens in 2012? Well, the economy will still be in the shitter—or, you know, inching its way back out of the shitter on account of a worthwhile but insufficient stimulus—argues Johnathan Cohn at The New Republic:
It's not as if the chances of improving the economy went up with this election. If anything, they went down. As even many conservative economists now agree, the economy needs more stimulus. The ascendant Republicans don't believe in stimulus, unless it's in the form of tax cuts for wealthy people that aren't very stimulating. Unemployment will likely stay high. Voter anger will, too.
What this will mean remains, obviously, to be seen—if I had to guess, I'd say that the continued incremental of the economy, the obvious lack of a compelling GOP candidate, and Obama's overwhelming organization mean he isn't in such deep trouble come the 2012 election; I'd also suggest that his re-engagement of young voters will result in regaining at least some of the swing House seats the Dems were bound to lose last night, and maybe more—given the forthcoming divided Houses of Congress and the ideological straitjacket imposed on the GOP in matters fiscal, cultural and national-defensive by its
lunatic fringe base, we're in for two years of gridlock, and if Bill Clinton could stare down Newt Gingrich and come out more sympathetic, who wants to bet the reverse will happen when Obama stares down tikka-tinged sobbing machine John Boehner?
So that's good news, right?