Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Variations On A Meme: The 'Real' Obama

President Obama's remarks after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize -- certainly the first in that august award's history in which the recipient defended not one but two ongoing wars -- has unleashed a torrent of praise from usually hypercritical conservatives and hankie wringing from liberals who feel that they have again been betrayed by the man who was going to resuscitate America after the darkness of the Bush years.

These conservatives (minus John McCain, who was conspicuous in his snarky absence) deserve praise even if their kind words are transitory, while the liberals need to take their thumbs out of their asses and given all-day lollipops to suck on while they consider the less than startling fact that Barack Obama has pretty much said and done what he said he would do during the presidential campaign.

This is not to say that I have had my own disappointments, primarily the snail's pace with which his administration has moved regarding the crimes of the Bush Torture Regime. But after rereading all of my blog posts on Obama from 2008 and a bunch of links from them over the weekend, the surprises have been few and far between because this street fighter from Chicago has almost always played to form.

As a matter of fact, I can't think of a president during my many years as a journo who has not.

Did George Bush really turned out to be that different from what we expected, which is to say our worst fears?

How about Bill Clinton, who except for his unanticipated ability to co-opt his Republican foes on
Capitol Hill with an uncanniness also was predictable, even down to his peccadillos.

Then there was George H.W. Bush, whose gray flannel presidency offered no surprises.

And Ronald Reagan, whose incredible lightweightness of being certainly was anticipated.

Why then are liberals so vexed about Obama?

Long story short, because most liberals have seen what they wanted to see instead of what was real, and the Nobel speech was a punch in the snout (sorry, Silvio) in that regard.

The longer story is more complex, but basically comes down to liberal ends and liberal means. (The same, I suppose, can be said about conservative ends and means.)

Obama has never been an ideologue, let alone a flaming liberal, and there has been a progressive pragmatism to what he has accomplished over the last year and what he is trying to accomplish in the next three. This has a whole lot more to do with what he can get through Congress than what is going to please the Prius-driving double latte set.

Among my 2008 posts that I lingered over was my post-Election Day thoughts on Obama's victory. I recalled that my eyes still stung as I wrote that night from all the tears that I had shed as one state after another went for him (even North-freaking-Carolina!) and then that extraordinary climactic scene in Chicago's Grant Park.

My tears were for my parents, who had not lived to see the election of the first African-American president and because it was in that same park 40 years earlier that police rioted and beat antiwar demonstrators.

But most especially because I understood -- as events have proven -- that getting elected was the easy part and living up to wildly unrealistic expectations would be much, much harder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

George Bush was the finest American president you will ever know. Obama is a mere blip on the screen of our nation's history. He is pure politician and full of dishonesty. George W. stood for what he believed in despite the lies that were constantly said about him.