Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Impossibilities of the Obama Presidency

Am I the only one who doesn’t know where Obama went wrong and what he should have done differently?

Obviously, many thoughtful writers, pundits and advocates try not to be presumptuous. But, in this media-saturated universe, who’s going to pay attention to you unless you can come up with an original idea?

That’s one reason that there’s virtually no breathing room in the political debate. Everything is instantly dissected and then subject to competition....Look over here!

There’s something very pluralistic and democratic about all this - everybody gets into the act - but it enfeebles the political process in ways we don’t yet fully understand.

This is certainly true regarding what we think about - and what we think we know about - President Barack Obama.

The Left thinks he’s governing Right and the Right think he’s governing Left. And, of course, even that’s not entirely accurate.

Lately, I have to work harder than ever to keep my progressive colleagues from getting demoralized and depressed. This is an interesting time in history, I tell them. It’s a complicated country. Obama’s still young. Health reform will pass. The economy will turn around.

I’m exhausted.

My friends on the Left really want to slap me around when I defend conservatives and confide that - even though I’m not one - I can enjoy, learn from and respect conservative ideas and people.

So here’s my two cents about our president:

This guy is basically progressive but clearly has some conservative impulses - look at his bio - which have been sharpened since he took office.

We see this kind of behavior all the time when reform-minded people take on big jobs - in business, nonprofits, unions, colleges. Facing enormous challenges in a very entrenched setting, you tend to hunker down, look at what’s in front of you and start to manage your circumstances one step at a time.

You learn as you go.

Obama, like most of us, was - and is - conciliatory, accommodating and compromising. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

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