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奥巴马的8年为特朗普铺路

更新时间:2017-1-17 10:29:01 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Eight Was Enough
奥巴马的8年为特朗普铺路

IT wasn’t supposed to end this way for Democrats.

对民主党人来说,本不该以这种方式结束。

Eight years ago, Barack Obama won the presidency promising to transform America. A supremely self-confident politician, Mr. Obama was the object of extravagant hopes that he nurtured and encouraged.

八年前,带着改变美国的承诺,贝拉克·奥巴马赢得了总统大选。作为一个极为自信的政治家,奥巴马培育和鼓励了希望,而他本人也正是这种不切实际希望的载体。

After his Super Tuesday primary victories in 2008, Mr. Obama said that the movement he began would “ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, make this time different than all the rest.” He would slow the rise of the oceans, end wars abroad and bridge political divisions at home. For his supporters, Mr. Obama was almost a figure of myth, comparable to Lincoln. When he won the presidency, nothing seemed beyond his reach.

2008年,在自己的超级星期二初选胜利之后,奥巴马说,他开创的运动将“作为一首愈合这个国家、修复这个世界、使这个时代独一无二的赞美诗,响彻整个美国大地”。他将减缓海平面的上升、结束国外的战争,弥合国内的政治分裂。对于他的支持者来说,奥巴马几乎是一个神话人物,可与林肯相比拟。在他总统大选获胜时,似乎没有他力所不能及的事情。

Yet after two terms of the Obama presidency, the Democratic Party is weaker than it has been since the 1920s. Republicans now control the presidency, the Senate, the House and a strong majority of governorships and state legislatures. President Obama’s repeated personal appeals to his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to preserve his legacy failed to put her over the top. The man who seemed to hold such promise for his party ended up taking a scythe to it.

然而,在奥巴马的两个总统任期之后,民主党处于其20世纪20年代以来最为弱势的地位。共和党如今控制着白宫、参议院、众议院,以及相当大多数的州长席位和州立法机构。为了保护自己的政治遗产,奥巴马总统多次呼吁自己的支持者把票投给希拉里·克林顿,但未能让她赢得总统席位。这位看似为其所在政党信守如此承诺的人,却最终让它惨败。

What happened?

发生了什么呢?

For some of the president’s admirers, the answer is that America has become benighted and bigoted. For others, the culprit is the Republican Party, which obstructed Mr. Obama at every turn. And for still others, like Mr. Obama, the problem is that his administration didn’t do enough to advertise its greatness.

对某些奥巴马的崇拜者来说,答案是,美国已变得愚昧无知和偏执。对其他人来说,罪魁祸首是共和党,共和党在所有的事情上阻碍奥巴马。对另一些人、比如奥巴马本人来说,问题在于他的政府没有对其伟大之处做出足够的宣传。

Even if you believe there are elements of truth in these explanations, they still amount to excuses. The same country that twice elected Mr. Obama did not suddenly become a nation of deplorables. In his first two years, with Democrats firmly in control of the House and Senate, Mr. Obama won the passage of his sweeping legislative agenda, including the Affordable Care Act, the stimulus package, financial regulations, the extension of jobless benefits and more. As for selling his policies, President Obama was constantly making his case.

即使你认为这些解释有真实的成分,但它们仍与借口等同。这个两次选举奥巴马当总统的国家,并不是突然一下变成了一个遭人唾弃者的国家。在他任期的头两年里,由于民主党人稳固地控制众议院和参议院,奥巴马能让自己大范围的立法议程得以通过,包括平价医疗法案、经济刺激计划、金融法案、延长失业救济金发放期等。至于兜售自己的政策,奥巴马总统一直在不停地阐明自己做事的理由。

The decimation of the Democratic Party came because Mr. Obama turned out to be great at poetry and bad at prose.

民主党全军覆没的原因是,奥巴马擅长优美的语言,但不擅长琐事。

Start with the economy. It’s true that he inherited a wicked recession, that unemployment is much lower than when he entered office and that the stock market has reached an all-time high. On the flip side, the economic recovery has been unusually weak, with annual growth never exceeding 3 percent. (Until Mr. Obama, every president since Herbert Hoover had at least one year of 3 percent growth.) The labor force participation rate is at the lowest it has been since the 1970s. Since 2008, real wages have remained the same or fallen for the bottom four-fifths.

先说经济。的确,他接手了一个危险、衰退中的美国。的确,目前的失业率比他上任时低得多。的确,股市已经达到历史新高。但另一方面,经济复苏一直异常疲软,年增长率从未超过3%。(在奥巴马之前,从赫伯特·胡佛起,每位总统在任期内至少有一年的经济增长率在3%。)劳动力参与率是自20世纪70年代以来最低的。自2008年以来,对20%的最底层人民来说,实际工资或保持不变、或下降了。

To make matters worse, the Obama presidency has been characterized by injurious incompetence, in particular with regard to his signature achievement, Obamacare. The unveiling of the website was a disaster, and the promises the president made — that Americans could keep their doctors and plans if they chose to — were false. Mr. Obama guaranteed lower insurance costs to families and lower health costs to the taxpayer; instead, costs rose. Several of the state-run exchanges appear to be headed for collapse.

更糟糕的是,无能这个致命伤一直是奥巴马总统任期的特点,特别是他特色鲜明的成就——奥巴马医改。医改网站的推出就是一场灾难。总统承诺说,如果他们愿意的话,美国人可以保留自己的医生和医保计划,但实情并非如此。奥巴马保证医改将降低家庭的保险费用,降低纳税人的健康费用,但费用反而上升。几个由州政府经营的医保交易所似乎也正在崩溃。

Overseas, the Obama years have been defined by spreading disorder and chaos, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, with nations collapsing and borders dissolving. More terrorist safe havens have been established than ever before. America is now held in brazen contempt by our enemies and mistrusted by many of our allies.

在海外,无序和混乱的扩大化已成为奥巴马时代的定义,特别是在中东和北非,国家面临崩溃,边界正在消失。比以往任何时候都多的恐怖主义安全庇护所建立了起来。如今,我们的敌人肆无忌惮地蔑视美国,我们的许多盟国不信任美国。

Yet in some respects the greatest failure of the Obama years is in the area where many people thought he would excel. Mr. Obama made the centerpiece of his 2008 campaign a promise to end a politics that “breeds division and conflict and cynicism.” In February of that year, I praised him for “a message that, at its core, is about unity and hope rather than division and resentment.” Yet he leaves office with America more conflicted and cynical than when he took office. More than 70 percent of Americans say the country is either more divided or no more united than it was in 2009. Race relations are the worst in decades, and our nation is as polarized as it has been in the modern era.

然而从某些方面来看,奥巴马时代的最大失败是在许多人认为他非常擅长的领域。奥巴马2008年竞选活动的核心是一个承诺,他承诺要结束“那种滋生分裂与冲突、滋生愤世嫉俗”的政治。我曾在2008年2月赞扬他,称他所传递的“信息,其核心是团结和希望,而不是分裂和怨恨”。然而,他离任总统时,美国比他上任时更不知所措、更愤世嫉俗。有70%以上的美国人或认为这个国家比2009年时更为分裂,或认为比2009年时更加团结。种族关系是几十年来最糟糕的,我国的两极分化是美国步入现代以来最为严重的。

It would be silly to lay all the blame for this at the feet of Mr. Obama. Republicans have been rhetorically reckless at times, and President-elect Donald Trump has coarsened public discourse and set Americans against one another in ways that were once unimaginable. But Mr. Obama came first, and he played a role in where we are.

把这一切都归咎于奥巴马是很愚蠢的。共和党人有时也曾发表过肆无忌惮的言论,候任总统唐纳德·特朗普已经把公共讨论变得粗鲁无礼,他让美国人以曾经难以想象的方式相互对立。但是,有奥巴马在前,我们陷入如今的处境,是他在其中起了作用。

In his farewell address last week, President Obama said that for the sake of our democracy we need to heed the advice of the fictional character Atticus Finch, who said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

在上周的告别演讲中,奥巴马总统说,为了我们的民主,我们应该听从虚构人物阿迪克斯·芬奇的建议,阿迪克斯·芬奇说,“你永远不会真正了解一个人,除非你从他的角度考虑事情。”

Yet Mr. Obama never seemed to consider things from a different point of view from his own. He has shown withering disdain for his opponents, constantly impugning their motives even as he testified to the purity of his own. It was his arrogance that proved to be Mr. Obama’s undoing. (Even leaders of his own party felt Mr. Obama’s derision, as if dealing with them was somehow beneath him.) Mr. Obama dismissed those who disagreed with him like a professor forced to deal with simple-minded, wayward students. He warned us against retreating into our bubbles, but he was never able to escape his own.

然而,奥巴马似乎从来不用与自己看法向左的角度来考虑事情。他对他的对手表现出让人无地自容的蔑视,总是对他们的动机表示怀疑,而他则在一旁证明自己动机的纯洁性。最终让奥巴马失败的原因正是他的傲慢。(就连他自己政党的领导人也受过奥巴马的奚落,仿佛与他们打交道因某种缘故让他有失身份。)奥巴马对那些不同意他的人不屑一提,就像一位教授被迫与头脑简单的任性学生打交道似的。他警告我们不要退缩到我们的小圈子里去,但他从未能逃脱他自己的小圈子。

During the Obama presidency, many people felt unheard and alienated. They are the kind of Americans Mr. Obama had in mind in 2008 when he talked about “bitter” people clinging to their “guns or religion.”

在奥巴马总统的任期里,许多人有过无人理会、受到疏远的感觉。他们是那种奥巴马在2008年提到的,依恋他们的“枪或宗教”的“愤愤不平”的美国人。

Barack Obama is among the most talented campaigners we have ever seen. But as president, he failed in a manner and on a scale that damaged his party, undermined faith in the institutions of government and left the nation more riven than he found it. For most Americans, the economy has been listless. All this helped create the conditions that allowed a cynical demagogue to rise up and succeed him, one who will undo the achievements he most prizes.

贝拉克·奥巴马是我们见过的最有天赋的竞选运动领导者之一。但作为总统,他失败了,他失败的方式和规模对他所在的政党造成了损害,破坏了人们对政府机构的信任,让国家比他上任时更加四分五裂。对于大多数美国人来说,经济一直没有起色。所有这一切帮助创造了条件,让一个愤世嫉俗的蛊惑民心者得以兴起,成为奥巴马的继任者,这个人将毁掉奥巴马认为自己最难能可贵的成就。

In many ways Barack Obama and Donald Trump could not be more different. Mr. Obama is equable and graceful; Mr. Trump is erratic and graceless. Yet one cannot make sense of the incoming presidency without understanding the failures of the outgoing one.

在许多方面,奥巴马和唐纳德·特朗普都是如此地截然不同。奥巴马性情平和、有风度;特朗普情绪不定、不懂礼貌。然而,一个人如果不了解即将离任的总统的失败,就不能搞明白即将上任的总统是怎么出来的。

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