Saturday, August 23, 2008

 

Obama comes full circle.. "Full-Eyed" Pragmatist

Nate Silver has said something... that to lack a better phrase is dead on. In his post http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/08/clear-eyed-pragmatist-obama-brand-has.html , Silver artfully and articulately paints the Obama transformation.

He has gone from the man who had pictures painted of him that look like Jesus to a man who is trying to be a white working class hero.

Anyone who knows me knows I am in someways an idealist (three New York baseball teams, gentrification of the Grand Concourse, listening to Barbara Jordan's speech from '76 etc.), but in other ways, I am a true realist. I recognize that while the United States is engaged in Iraq our role in the world to deal with such things as the Georgia crisis is greatly reduced. No matter what we claim to be our duty internationally in terms of keeping countries at bay (in other words keep them from invading other countries), our stature is greatly reduced as long as we stay in Iraq (our own type of occupation). This is common sense.

I have always understood that Obama would pivot once the general election came. His type of grandiose change that was understood by the idealists and youth of the Democratic party would never come to fruition in the general. The reason is simple... to quote Maxine Waters (D-Cal), "we don't need hope, we need action". This is how most Americans feel (if you are wondering why Obama won the primary, a complex but simple answer exists for another post). They want leaders who understand the issues at hand. They wanted specific proposals to deal with the problems we faced today.

I know many of my friends who supported Obama in the primary were not in love with him because of his understanding of the issues at home. Most did understand and respect his initial opposition to the Iraq War, but many (not all) didn't care or know his withdrawl plan. Many wanted to "change" the page from the Bush administration in some way. They saw the Bush administration as a bunch of secretive wealthy men. Obama's campaign was wide open in both its loose (in the sense of being open to people) candidate and its reliance on web fundraising (not for the rich).

The primary campaign was never about "realistic" change or "experienced" change. It was about symbolic change from Bush and partisan fights. If the debate had been framed in the "realistic" frame, one of the other candidates might have won (maybe even Joe Biden). Because let's face it, candidates who brought have change through legislation in either an executive or legislative role have a better chance of bringing future change through legislation. This was the core argument of Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Joe Biden.

Now, however, is not the primary fight. It is about pragmatism in the words of Joe Biden. And many Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson (plus the other two) supporters, must decide whether they want to be the pragmatists they were during the primary campaign. Do they want the solid change in the Democratic way? Or would they rather be idealists and say "if it's not my guy/gal, I'm going to the other side"?

Their choice.

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