Sunday, September 27, 2009

Obey Obama to Observe Obama

Obey Obama was conceived, in part, to prepare Progressive Democrats for the inevitable. Of course the new president would disappoint his base with compromises, missed opportunities, stumbles and setbacks.

I was just as certain that the activist wing of the party would quickly begin to complain and criticize the proposals, policies, strategies and even symbolic actions by Obama, starting with the big fuss over the invitation to evangelical Rick Warren to make the inauguration invocation.

I’m usually impressed by thoughtful arguments from the left and obviously consider it fair game for that constituency to advocate, vocalize and organize on behalf of its positions.

And I’m sensitive to the charge that Obama gave away too much, too soon on health care and is doing that again on financial reform.

But I’ve cautioned against the impulse among many on our side to become depressed, disillusioned and defeatist. I’m worried that the American left will revert to familiar self-destructive tendencies and swarm all over this guy.

President Obama faces extraordinary pressures, a skillful and devious political opposition and an electorate – including many who voted for him – with very conservative values.

I try to make the case that in winning the nomination and the election, Obama showed enormous personal skills, political flexibility, strong values, courage and discipline; and that these qualities will prove to be tremendous assets as this presidency evolves

Obey Obama was my argument to let the new president lead and to give him cover as he unpacks this very complicated government, nation and world.

Observe Obama is not a repudiation but an extension of this notion.

Observe means more than just watch.

When you observe a holiday, for example, you’re also paying respect. And being observant implies loyalty.

So don’t expect a big change in attitude.

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