There is no question, in a political system warped and broken by corporate money and lobbyists, that a president intent on achieving "victories for the American people," as he described them, would require a sense of pragmatism, and a willingness to accept the compromises that, at times, will flow from it.
But too often, this president is so singularly focused on seeking common ground that he fails to define his - and our - principles. The tax cut deal is just the most recent example. Obama began those negotiations telegraphing his endgame, with eyes set unwaveringly on resolution. He chose not to passionately articulate his values, or to define the GOP's, and in the aftermath of the battle, he refused to explain where it's all meant to lead us.
This, he might conclude, is a minor complaint from a dismissible left. But the truth is, without a president who is able - and willing to - lay out a clear, strong and principled argument, without a president who will stand up for the ideals he ran on, even as he seeks resolution, the progressive worldview becomes muted, and the conservative worldview validated.
These next two years present a daunting challenge. Once the new Congress is sworn in, any legislative movement forward on the progressive agenda (if any is possible) will require some form of compromise with an increasingly loathsome opposition. This is not a reality lost on any of us. But if reaching those compromises means a continued berating of the left, a continued lack of outrage toward the right and a continued willingness to strike deals without defining principles, then in the end, the president may well find himself with a modest list of achievements, a deeply demoralized base and a party that seemingly stands for nothing. MORE...
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Katrina vanden Heuvel: "A progressive's answer to Obama"
Katrina vanden Heuvel (WaPo op-ed):