Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Just Give Me the Ball"

Ezra Klein's column today in the Washington Post is worth reading in full, particularly for this telling passage:
Pessimists, however, point to a very different narrative. Obama, they say, has not shown himself a fighter for his policy commitments. His time as a national figure was short, adulatory and unmarred by hard causes or lonely battles. During the primary campaign, he was battered by John Edwards and Hillary Clinton on social policy, surviving mainly on the strength of his personal narrative and his opposition to the war in Iraq. His strategy on health care was to compromise with industry, compromise with Congress, and seek the path of maximal consensus, which has resulted in an ugly bill that doesn't excite supporters and doesn't comfort voters. This is all, they say, part of a pattern of conflict-aversion that the president's supporters have refused to acknowledge.

This is a load of horse shit. First of all, the obvious: a guy runs for President who served less than a full term as a US Senator, who lacked what many believed (especially "real leaders" like Sarah Palin) was solid "executive" experience, and who happens to be a member of an ethnic minority that was persecuted in this country up until about 45 years ago, suffers from "conflict aversion?" That's just insane.

Secondly, Obama has absolutely fought for his policy commitments. In the first year, he has faced a gigantic opposition from the other side against further stimulus, stimulus that has created 1.2 million jobs since being implemented and has staved off an international financial meltdown and a depression. And he has won that fight so far. He has overcome opposition in his own party for a surge of troop strength in Afghanistan, fulfilling a campaign promise to re-focus our war efforts in the place where terrorism is a real problem. This is the low-hanging fruit? Please!

The perception that he is risk-averse is because he's open to making deals with whomever will work with him. This is not, in any world where reason actually resides, a sign of weakness, of a rudderless ship, or of a refusal in the White House to lead. In my eyes, success always comes when one actually detaches from the outcome and trusts that the Universe will deliver the goods. One need only be open to the infinite possibilities of what that success might look like. this is not a cop-out to not fight for your vision; but facts on the ground always require a re-examination of that vision and adjustments to that vision. The opposite of what Obama is doing is perfectly illustrated in Republican's dogged refusal to allow Obama success in any area, or the far left's screams to kill the healthcare bill (and jumping into bed with the likes of Grover Norquist!) rather than allow it to pass without a public option. You want to see risk-averse behavior? Feast your eyes on those two factions, who would actually settle for doing nothing rather than do the hard work of doing something.

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