January 18, 2010

HE WAS THE CHANGE:

If you're disillusioned with Obama, you don't understand how he won: The distance between the aspirations he raised and his record a year on is the distinction between the electoral and the political (Gary Younge, 1/18/10, Guardian)

First, Obama was never a radical. He won on a decidedly middle-of-the-road Democratic platform. Beyond the Iraq war, which he opposed and she ­supported, there was little to chose between him and Hillary Clinton in terms of their programmes. They had voted the same way in the Senate 90% of the time.

True, he represents a dramatic progressive shift in direction from the previous eight years. But in almost any other western country his policies on the Middle East, gay marriage, trade and capital punishment would cast him out of polite leftwing company. Yes, there are grounds for disappointment. Bush's torture infrastructure has been left largely intact, the Iraq withdrawal has been extended by two years and the healthcare reform debate might have panned out differently had he led more decisively. But there is a world between that and accusations of betrayal and treachery. In Afghanistan in particular, the problem was that he kept his campaign pledge whereas many of us wish that he had broken it. [...]

These are early days. But the risk at this moment is twofold. First, that Obama ends this year with no progressive legislative victories. Second, and arguably worse, that he embraces legislation that sounds progressive but does not substantially improve people's lives. People don't want healthcare reform; they want affordable healthcare. They don't want a stimulus bill; they want jobs. The time for lofty rhetoric has long gone. The time for measured analysis has been too long coming.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2010 6:40 AM
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