Thursday, April 1, 2010

The New Face of Obamania

by Richard Crews
As we saw Obama ascend to power, we were struck with two different sorts of observations. One was--here was an intelligent and thoughtful man, well informed and civil in debate, technologically up to the minute in communication and fund-raising know-how, and consummately skillful in political, organizational, and other administrative matters. The other was--here was someone (call him a "liberal" or "centrist," a "pragmatist" or "non-ideologue") who largely agrees with me--on the environment, education, science, international diplomacy, even on fiscal responsibility and wealth redistribution.

As we awoke from the dream, contradictions (or disparities) between these two views emerged. On the one hand, he got rid of torture, secret prisons, and secret wiretaps; but, on the other, he seemed to delay closing Guantanamo and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and to resist condemning U.S. "war criminals" of the prior administration. Fiscally, he seemed willing to bankrupt the federal government to rescue the economy. And now he is expanding nuclear power and offshore drilling despite the ecological dangers.

What is a "thoughtful" citizen to do when we elect an able man to be president, and then--darned if he doesn't disagree with us?

My view is that the first array of observations (that he is an intelligent and thoughtful man) must take precedence over the second (that he largely agrees with me). The actual, effective functioning of the presidency is an arduous and complex matter. It depends on integrating data and expert opinions on many matters--financial, ecological, political, etc.--far beyond my meager resources and abilities, and turning these into an overall, high-principled strategy and a workable set of tactics.

In my view, we must commit ourselves--while maintaining skeptical oversight--to the general notion that Obama has high principles and excellent smarts, and knows what he is doing.