Friday, May 25, 2012

Obama's Consistency

One of the things I recognized early on about President Obama is how consistent he's been in his approach to conflict. I first noticed this just after his election when I did some looking into his background - specifically his time as President of the Harvard Law Review. Quotes like this sound very familiar to how he has approached his current job.
Beyond his appearance, what set him apart was his approach to argument, the lifeblood of the law school and the constant occupation of the young lawyers-in-training. While other students were determined to prove the merits of their beliefs through logic and determination, Obama preferred to listen, seek others' views, and find a middle way.
Or how about this one.
...his first and foremost goal, it always seemed to me, was to put out a first-rate publication. And he was not going to let politics or ideology get in the way of doing that.
What I learned is - of course - that he's always been a pragmatist who is open to ideas over ideology.

I'd suggest that comes primarily from the time he spent while in college at Columbia thinking deeply about his own identity and the course he wanted his own life to take.  As we've heard recently, this was his conclusion.
The only way my life makes sense is if, regardless of culture, race, religion, tribe, there is this commonality, these essential human truths and passions and hopes and moral precepts that are universal. And that we can reach out beyond our differences. If that is not the case, then it is pretty hard for me to make sense of my life. So that is at the core of who I am.
I say all that because today Politico has published a pretty nasty article about how the Obama campaign has stumbled out of the gate when it comes to this election. Of course the hit piece is full of overheated nonsense. But this part expresses something we're hearing fairly often these days.
Some key Democrats say they have been dismayed watching Obama become a divider not a uniter...

“This guy’s narrative is to be big,” complained one veteran of the 2008 campaign. “How do you capture that in a campaign when all anybody is focused on is the daily tit-for-tat?
The DC village pundit crowd is into their "oh-no's" that the President is actually arguing a position and the poutragers are saying, "finally, he's dropped the bipartisanship and is fighting."

All of them are falling into the same trap of either/or thinking I wrote about before. What they don't seem to be able to grasp is that a human being can be BOTH a negotiator AND a fighter. When it comes to President Obama's approach, that applies not only to foreign policy - but how he deals with Republicans. We can take these same words he spoke at his inauguration to foreign leaders and (perhaps with a bit of editing) apply them to domestic politics as well.
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you...

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
Or we can once again ask them to look at this video from way back in 2007 and suggest that President Obama has reached the "crush them" stage when it comes to dealing with Republican nonsense, but that his hand would still be extended to those who are "willing to unclench their fist."


  1. Your frustration is from observing two grops of people very vested in NEVER getting it with regard to this president. No amount of evidence, reason, or observable reality will ever be permitted to impact their predetermined conclusion. It's not an approach taken by anyone seeking truth, but they have adopted the start with a conclusion and look for ways to support it plan. In the long run it exposes their lack of credibility. In the short term it raises your blood pressure and mine too.

  2. It's an election year, so we're in the "crush them" stage. It's a little funny how the tables have turned. Mitch McConnell has been quiet lately. John Boehner is cracking up. Conservative pundits have decided to take up a fight with Larry Flynt. Romney doesn't have the damn sense to distance himself from Donald Trump. Romney is finding a new way to make a fool of himself every day. Advantage Obama.

    What makes this all worse is that Sully published an article in Newsweek telling them that this was coming. They all read it and decided to drown themselves any way.


  3. I have always believed that much of President Obama's bipartisan rhetoric was directed more at Republican constituents than their representatives. Representatives is the key here. Like it or not, these people were elected, and since he is President of ALL the people, he can't dismiss those who represent them, no matter how hateful and ignorant they are.

    My respect for this man has grown so much over the past 3 1/2 years. I look back in presidential history for comparisons to the kind of divisive, nasty, deceptive politics his Administration has faced, and the only President that comes to mind is Lincoln. Not even FDR faced such vitriol and obstruction, on so many fronts, while dealing with not only an economy in freefall, but two wars, an enormous debt, a failiing infrastructure, and the decimation of every government institution needed to fix those problems. Even now, people don't seem to realize how much Republican obstruction has disrupted the ability of the Obama Administration to function in a governing capacity. Bugets stripped, appointed positions left vacant--including a Federal Judicial System in peril, Bush moles still causing trouble, and a cynical public who sees everything through the prism of the Bush doctrine. Anyone who has ever cleaned up someone else's mess, knows it is infinitely better to start from scratch.

    I have lived a long time, but I am still learning how to conduct myself in measured ways, when dealing with conflict. President Obama has been a guiding force in this matter. I think we can all learn from his consistent graciousness in the face of such unreasonable attacks. I'm glad that he is the role model for our generation of young people. I'm not there yet. I scream LIAR at my television 20 times a day. I calm myself by channeling the Obama zen. When I grow up, I want to be just like him--smile.

  4. Smartypants: I so enjoy your Blog. Read it daily. It helps keep me sane.


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