Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Obama Is No Liberal

It was a beautiful moment when Barack Obama, with his election, drew the left and right together in one powerful conviction: that he was a raging lefty. It didn't last long, of course. For the right, every day now brings exhilarating proof of his secret socialist mission; for the left, each day brings more disillusion: Afghanistan; Guantanamo; rendition; no prosecution of Bush officials; immigration; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; a health-care law that, okay, might be the most ambitious social legislation in 45 years, but didn't create a single-payer system and was heralded by a truckling executive order on abortion. Promises broken, promises deferred-and also promises inferred. How could he not be a lefty, given that he makes such poetic speeches, given that (and here's another assumption shared with the far right, an uglier one) he's black? Yet deep down, of course, the purists always suspected him, and are as titillated as Tea Partiers to remain in righteous opposition. To what? A wintry pragmatism joined to a novel (for our time) seriousness about applying government to make life better in a nation that, sure, might be willing, even eager, to elect an Indonesian-educated black Hawaiian with an unsettling name, but that finds the full agenda of the unforgiving left, like that of the unhinged right, a bit of a stretch.

by James Bennet
Editor, The Atlantic
July/August 2010, p.42

No comments: