Reading this Slate article about trying to get inside Obama’s noggin’, I marvel at how so many seem to get the President wrong even when “getting” him is pretty easy. Folks on both sides of the aisle seem to err this way. For liberals, Obama is too moderate or centrist. For conservatives, they are are convinced that within his heart beats that of a far-left liberal radical.
Except Barack Obama is what he has always presented himself as. A moderate, coming down on the left side of the issues. Unlike Bush, who sold himself as a religious version of his father’s Yankee Republicanism only to be revealed as a war-obsessed neocon thanks to (in their eyes) the fortuitousness of the 9/11 attacks, Obama has governed as he campaigned.
It’s very strange for me to see this reaction in the pundit class to this of someone who has been as he said he would be. Its as if there’s a built in cynicism that expects people to not act in the manner they said they would.
Now, are there issues I wish the President would move to his left flank on? Sure. While gay marriage can be mostly avoided federally as the nation moves state by state to the logical conclusion, there is also no reason for the president to not repeal don’t ask don’t tell. There’s almost no political price for him to pay, and even if that’s the case he’s got the capital to do so. Upside: A more competent armed service without the need to snoop in the bedrooms of our fighting men and women.
Also on the bank bailout it remains to be seen if the more industry-friendly middle road is working. The depth of the crisis would seem to have required a stricter government role in the operations. But maybe this hybrid model will turn out to have worked, with strident critics on both sides turning out to be wrong (as often happens).
President Barack Obama has the chance to become one of history’s great, transformational leaders. My guess is that if he does so it will be in large part due to him leading as he said he would.