President Obama will want to keep the latest issue of Rolling Stone handy to counter reports of his down-in-the-dumps approval ratings. The cover story is by economist and New York Times pundit Paul Krugman, and its headline of "In Defense of Obama" might understate things. Consider this line: “Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history,” Krugman writes. The Nobel winner runs through Obama's accomplishments, declaring, for example, that ObamaCare is flawed "but still a huge step forward—and it's working better than anyone expected." He thinks that financial reform out of the Obama White hasn't been aggressive enough, "but it's much more effective than you'd think." And his "environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy."
It's not all praise—Krugman criticizes the president on his "surveillance state" policies, for example—but he thinks Obama has accomplished the ultimate goal of any president: He's changed the country for the better, and he's done so despite inheriting a mess and facing entrenched opposition. "I don't care about the fact that Obama hasn't lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating," writes Krugman. "I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot. That is, as Joe Biden didn't quite say, a big deal." Click to read his full piece. Or see critiques of it as "a little perfunctory" and "light on details" at Slate or "embarrassingly fawning" at the Washington Post. Either way, it makes a notable turnaround for Krugman, who was arguably once the president's strongest liberal critic, writes Arit John at Bloomberg. (Read more President Obama stories.)