I spend more time than a sane person should wending my way through conservative, liberal and moderate political blogs to keep an eye on the latest groupthink on the web. The surprising thing is, over the last six months, I’ve noticed that they seem to be singing the same song, despite their ideological differences – the president is a failure, the Obama administration has sold out, the White House is not listening to the American people, or the ubiquitous, “one size fits all” mantra, “the president is a disappointment.”
Even setting aside my own bias towards supporting smart African American men who have learned not only how to become a part of the system, but to master it, it is hard to fathom how people who were so fervently supportive of the Obama during his campaign and his first few months in office are now so utterly convinced that his tenure has been a complete failure.
It took one of the few diarists at Daily Kos who have decided “enough is enough” to clearly articulate to their brethren an observation I think is spot on in its description of President Obama’s modus operandi:
I think if I had to characterize Obama’s governance in a single sentence it would be this: “Begin with an ideal, analyze the situation, and then move as close as possible to that ideal as the current situation will allow”.
It seems to be the “move as close as possible to an ideal as the current situation will allow” part of the Obama Administration’s m.o. that causes the most problems for ideological purists, who appear to equate the idea of compromise with the notion that to do so is to completely surrender to the enemy. But this president is not interested in drawing metaphorical lines in the sand. He is interested in getting as close as he can within the constraints he has to a solution to the problem before him.
Many of his make sense solutions look strange to various political factions within the Democratic Party, because they often bear little resemble to the platform positions to which these factions have staked their very existence. It doesn’t really matter to these dogmatic blocs that true societal change in this country has almost always been slow and incremental, and often takes decades to become fully realized. Although in some ways, I can’t blame them, especially since much of their identity can be wrapped up in their strident political beliefs.
Maybe it’s just me, but if you have a guy like Barack Obama on your side, a guy who has consistently shown an ability to accomplish improbable goals without getting bogged down by personality conflicts or becoming trapped by preconceived narratives, you would think that political progressives would be able to see that the glass is really half full rather than the half empty state that seems to register with most politicos of all stripes these days.