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Obama's Not Perfect, But Pragmatism Never Is
Posted By novenator - Monday, August 31st, 2009 at 12:50 PM
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 Cindy Sheehan, the woman who took on the failed Bush regime after her son was killed in the Iraq War recently published a series of condemations of President Barack Obama on her blog.  I expect attacks from the right wing, although honestly I am a bit surprised how venemous and outrageous a majority of them are, but am finding criticism more frequent from the left these days.

The problem here is that Cindy, like soo many people cannot understand that Obama is a pragmatist. I am a big supporter, but he has disappointed me on numerous issues, such as not immediately repealing the Patriot Act, FISA, and not ending rendition.

However, in lieu of the cultural climate in America, I think people forget that he is a pragmatist, he genuinely wants to reach across the aisle and find some middle ground, despite the 'he's a commie!' rhetoric from the obstructionist right. This may be a flaw in the end, but it is politically wise and could lead to more progressive change in the long run. After all, would you rather have Barack Obama and Joe Biden or John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House?

Granted, this is a compromise position, but as someone who spends a majority of my time in very red parts of the countryside, I can tell you this, he still seems quite foreign to them and they do not trust him (speaking generally here), so his pragmatism is making minor inroads. If he tries to do to much, his reach will be overextended and this will trigger a backlash, just like it did in 1994, leading to the conservatives retaking congress and effectively hamstringing any shades of change we could have possibly enacted.

So before anyone on the left condemns Obama outright, consider that you might be playing right into the hands of the Republican think tanks who are eager to demonstrate that disapproval of Obama is universal. We on the left need to keep pressuring him to do the right thing (there's an FDR quote of that somewhere), but need to be constructive in our criticism.



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Discussion:
If you want to be seen as pragmatic and middle of the road, you need to lead with you preferred position and then be seen to accept ideas from the other side. Preferable publicly trading point for point with the other side.

Instead, I think Obama's tactics have been bad. He leads with the compromise, and then feels pressured to compromise even more. He let's little details overwhelm discussions of the big issues and imperatives.

I hope he learn to be effective, as well as pragmatic.
[ Posted at 7:17 PM on 8/31/09 | Reply ]
When did "pragmatism" ever become this breathtaking thing that excuses all failures?

When Obama's pragmatism creates true transparency, provides healthcare for all, holds those who caused torture accountable, stops the unholy wars this country is engaged in - then and then only will I applaud pragmatism.

Nothing great has ever been accomplished by a pragmatist. Or at least not a pragmatist who was more concerned with being bipartisan than with getting something accomplished.
[ Posted at 7:32 PM on 8/31/09 | Reply ]
How much better do you want the political climate to get for a democratic president?
[ Posted at 8:24 PM on 8/31/09 | Reply ]
[-] Pragmatism can be a bad thing - Guest-TheNavigator834
While it's often associated with practical solutions, pragmatism as a political philosophy has a dangerous and mixed record in this country.

There is something to be said for ideology. Ideology keeps a party from doing things that may seem expedient, but are in fact harmful to their long term vision for the country.

All kinds of evils have been perpetuated in this country in the name of pragmatism.
[ Posted at 8:47 PM on 8/31/09 | Reply ]

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