I was never one who believed that Barack Obama could - in a mere two years - repair the enormous damage of decades of unfunded entitlement and defense spending, two disastrously conceived, off-budget and negligently prosecuted wars, a financial market collapse, the worst recession since the 1930s, two burst bubbles in tech and housing, and the importation of torture into the American way of war. Maybe I over-estimated how much the GOP might learn from their appalling record in the new millennium - but that would require an admission of failure that they seem incapable of.
Nonetheless, the sheer difficulties and resistance that Obama has met with - from the FNC propaganda channel to the balls-free liberal press to the utopian activist left and deranged radical right - is remarkable. But, as P.M. Carpenter notes, this is not an inherently bad thing. We need opposition - if a more intelligent and less cynical opposition than we now confront. And no real change has come to America without slowness and resistance and division - as its constitution requires. The filibuster has become, it seems to me, a promiscuously wielded impediment, but in real context, the huge shift Obama has already achieved is quite remarkable:
I direct your attention to American history, from early 19th-century social reforms to the decades-long battle for emancipation to the century's later political-bureaucratic reforms to TR and Wilson's Progressive Era to FDR's New Dealism and to the Great(er) Society envisioned by LBJ. Each level of sociopolitical progress was grinding and grueling and packed with half-measures -- because remember, the other side gets its say, too; plus the other side, notwithstanding our oft-proper ridicule, is not always without its own version of idealism, possessed just as passionately.
And now, Barack Obama's correction of a dreadful, 30-year pseudoconservative misadventure. Step by step. Piece by piece. Half-measures by half-measures, which in time will become 60-percent measures, then 80-percent measures ...
That, quite simply, is the way it is. Indeed, that's the way it's supposed to be. If genuine conservative genius there ever was, it came in the Founders' Burkean inspiration that true and lasting progress must pass the tests of peaceful struggle and tireless debate. Achieving a national consensus is hard, but it's necessary to progress' durability; vast and overanxious progress in a consensual void only insures its unraveling.
If you backed Obama and want to see real change continue, now is not the time to give up because it's not as easy as you thought it would be. Now is the time to oppose the passionate intensity of his opponents with the reasoned conviction that elected him.
Remember: we are the ones we've been waiting for. Are we really going to substitute pique for purpose and ennui for hope now? By all means criticize when necessary, as I have. But he's the best we've got, and we are lucky to have him.
To paraphrase Mr Krugman this morning,
Mr. Obama may not be the politician of our dreams, but his enemies are definitely the stuff of our nightmares.
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty.)
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