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 December, 2008


 Phoney Surprise About President-elect Obama

There’s a Pragmatist in Da House

What’s with these hard core conservatives lately? I’m stunned at the number of them who’re agreeing (if only half-heartedly) with our new president-elect.

Many of them are appearing with their unclenched fists in full view, openly complimenting Barack Obama for one thing or another.

With every new leaked cabinet appointee, I hear how Obama is really only a “pragmatist.” It’s like they’d never heard any of his speeches.

Obama had never campaigned as an ideologue. His demeanor has shown he’s more prone to thoughtfully study issues, and to seek the counsel of those people who have a deep understanding of them, than to stand firmly on political ideology. How refreshing.

The surprise I hear from the right, that he isn’t some wild-eyed ultra-liberal is interesting – and oh, a bit silly. Obama never was going to nominate ex-domestic terrorist Bill Ayers as his secretary of defense. But if you followed the recent presidential campaign, you would’ve heard repeated hints from Republicans that that would have been his secret plan.

Obama’s moderate takes on a variety of issues never sank in - at least not to right wing pundits who preferred to accuse him of channeling Chairman Mao.

That just isn’t Obama’s style. His immediate post-election embraces of his old foes Clinton, Lieberman and McCain, weren’t anything more than would have been expected for those of us who truly understood his message of change.

For those people who refused to digest that message, “change” meant something else.
That’s why shortly after Obama won primary battles in Iowa and South Carolina during the cold days of winter, just about all of the other presidential candidates – both Democratic and Republican – spliced the word “change” into every facet of their campaigns.

They’d not looked at the fine print, which read “change” starts with turning down the heat beneath the ever-boiling political cauldron long enough to actually make government work, from time-to-time. Obama seems to be fulfilling his campaign promise, even though some people mistakenly claim a well-rounded cabinet, populated by professionals isn’t really change.

That’s not so. Obama is, for the most part, steering clear of political cronies, in ways that George W. Bush did not. Obama would seem to be completely out of character, if he would announce, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital and now I intend to use it,” the way George W. Bush did the day following his re-election in November of 2004.

Besides, we all know what happened to that political capital, don’t we?

I love reciting the disastrous follow-up to Bush’s proclamation of his “political capital.” There was: Harriet Myers (a Supreme Court nominee who gained widespread disapproval immediately), Bernard Kerik (Homeland Security chief nominee who withdrew his nomination after only week. He’s been indicted and could serve as many as 142 years in prison if convicted), the Dubai Ports Deal (a Bush proposal that never came to fruition), a proposed massive overhaul of the Social Security system (Bush scoured America looking for anybody who’d support it. Nobody ever did), Katrina (“You’re doin’ a heck-of-va job Brownie”) the misapplied meddling into the Terri Schiavo case (Bush tried to use his aforementioned political capital to save a life. She died anyway), and an immigration reform plan that died on the runway, thanks to members of his own party.

Political capital? Not even pocket change.

No wonder Obama’s apparently steady leadership style has conservatives falling all over themselves with left-handed praise for him. Oh, some fringe conservatives, pundits and “bloggers” may still find fault with all of this.

Those are the same people who have all of the answers to all of the nation’s problems, but never do they have any of the real solutions to them.

They are still wondering how the conservative political agenda has been pushed aside by a “pragmatist.” The answer has been right under their noses all along. The country is more concerned now with finding real solutions than it is in discovering yet another demon conjured up through political partisanship.

Obama, the pragmatist, knew that all along, didn’t he?

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net