Obama and Peeved Progressives. Jeff Jacoby’s column of 12/24/08.

Background.  Jacoby points out that progressives are disappointed with some of Obama’s less progressive appointments (Clinton as Secretary of State, Gates at Defense, an economic team that has favored deregulation in the past.) as well as distressed by Warren’s role in the inauguration.  He points out that this was predictable from what Obama promised in the campaign.#Jacoby’s column#


Dear Jeff,

First of all, I wish you a Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year.  Second, I agree with almost everything you wrote in your editorial.

A useful analogy to Obama’s governance style might be to think of it in terms of a football field.  (This analogy is borrowed from Rachel Maddow).  Obama’s voting record and natural inclinations are located on the Progressive’s 30 yard line.  (The other side of the field would normally be called “Conservative”, but for much of Bush’s Presidency, his side was “Evangelical.”)  Obama is progressive by nature, but he is no Dennis Kucinich, who is located around the 10 yard line.  In addition, Obama’s governance style is very close to the 50 yard line.  He has chosen moderates for a number of cabinet positions, as well as those slightly on the progressive side as well as those slightly on the conservative side.  His goal is to help to accomplish important legislative objectives, to improve regulation in the executive branch, and to have a more bipartisan and more multilateral approach to international issues.  He has chosen individuals who are extremely smart, pragmatic, and experienced.

At the same time, he wants to keep an open dialogue with others who disagree with him, and is willing to reach out to those on the other side if there is agreement on some important issues.  He is reaching out to Evangelicals in his choice of Warren, even if it offends many of his supporters.  Obama agrees with Evangelicals such as Warren on some important issues.

You say “It is never advisable to fall in love with a politician.  Sooner or later, you will feel betrayed.”  Perhaps it is good advice.  But Obama has honored what he said he would do on almost every front (as you say).  

I have thought for almost a year that Obama can be one of the truly great Presidents, based on his intelligence, his integrity, his temperament, and his governance style.  I still think he can be great.  It’s not love; perhaps, it’s better to call it hope.  If anything, my hope is at least as strong today as it was a year ago.       Best regards, Jim


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