Sunday, November 23, 2008

BHO - Not a Liberal?

The great Glenn Greenwald writes that those who are disappointed by BHO's non-"progressive" appointments have been deceiving themselves.

So many progressives were misled about what Obama is and what he believes. But it wasn't Obama who misled them. It was their own desires, their eagerness to see what they wanted to see rather than what reality offered.

I think BHO plays a more subtle game than this right-left, progressive-conservative sport we've been stuck with for so long. Until quite recently, many thought of universal health care coverage as a strictly lefty, progressive thing. Same with opposition to the Iraq war.

The American people, it seems to me, moved away from the right towards a more progressive, more practical "center," and BHO rode this movement as much as led it. Cokie Roberts still thinks pro-choice is "left," even though a substantial majority favors it (and has for some time).

I don't read BHO as "progressive" or "liberal" or "centrtist" or frankly anywhere along the ideological spectrum that we've used as short-hand for so long that we seem to have forgotten what it ever stood for. Well, that plus the fact that an extreme faction arose in our nation which tried to yank the country to the most extreme views through intimidation and deception.

It's certainly wise to look at BHO's actions so far in the context of his campaign rhetoric: he promised pragmatic solutions, focus on the things we all agree on, de-emphasis of things where we seem unable to agree, a hatred of ignorance, stupidity, and the veneration of things that work. For the life of me, I can't characterize that as left or right, really. (I read it as left since I think of progressives as pragmatics; others, maybe most, disagree.)

I'm looking forward to holding BHO accountable to the nation's wishes, but I'm starting to hear a strain of discontent that he is not 100% lined up with some agenda. Well, no one is. But I still expect to see compelling results, just as we did in the two successful campaigns (and so far, successful transition effort) he's already run.

1 comment:

William said...

It does seem quite ridiculous if folks think he was trying to appear more liberal than he really is. MSM may not have reported it, but it's in his voting record.

I think it's possible some people are foolishly looking for a more cathartic experience through BHO's win. Others might have been dreaming of a little political vacation for themselves.

If you voted for BHO with real optimism for change, I don't think he's given us reason to doubt it yet. As gracious as he has been, he recently claimed a mandate for change.

48% or whatever did vote against him. Let's not forget how we felt when Bush claimed a mandate over a less decisive win. I for one am a little tired of Republican, winner-take-all, gloat over the loser politics. If the democratic party is not about those things, let us show it.