Obama the Magic Pony

So, about the last post: some folks think that I lean too far towards the “Obama the Magic Pony” view of the world. And I can see that. 

Then again, I wasn’t the one who campaigned with this sort of iconography:

(image courtesy Flickr user beastandbean)

Or this:

(image courtesy LeavingMyMarc.com)

Or, heck, even this:

(image courtesy OBAMANOS! Filipinos for Obama 201.2)

So, you know, if people are complaining about me treating Obama like a magic pony, then, respectfully, your complaint’s going to the wrong department. Obama’s campaign didn’t have problem one with that treatment during the campaign, and as you can see, they explicitly fostered it. 

Besides, that’s a bit of a strawman anyway. I don’t think Obama’s a magic pony. I say right up at the top that we’ll have to dig a relief well, and unless Obama’s got marine expertise he’s not told us about, he’s already done everything he could do with respect to the Gulf Spill he could do. 

I’m not the only one who feels that way. Earlier, I quoted Van Jones in my Twitter feed, who in the process of defending Obama’s performance, said:

“The problem is not the last 30 days. The problem is the last 30 years.”

Let that sink in. 

Okay – done?

That’s why, instead of yelling at BP (which I explicitly wrote I don’t expect him to do), I suggested that he announce that he was going to push for clean energy to receive the same kinds of subsidies that fossil fuels and nuclear power receive, preferably as part of the American Power Act. 

Where’s the magic pony in that

My criticism of Obama is that he’s continually refused to use the power of the Presidency to push for the kind of transformative change that he campaigned on. You don’t get to say that voting for you is “change we can believe in” and then expect to be graded on a curve. 

The suggestions I made in my previous post aren’t “magic pony” suggestions. I’m well aware of the power of the Senate, and of how hard it is to make change happen. I’m not expecting Obama to usher in a Nordic-style social democratic system. That ship sailed away seven decades ago. 

At the day’s end, though, those are all excuses for why we can’t do things. Frankly, if I was interested in that, there’s a whole party full of people standing athwart history yelling “NO!” as loud as they can.

I’m a liberal/progressive/whatever precisely because I’m interested in what we can do. There was a candidate who ran and didn’t pass up one chance to say, over and over, that the genius of this country wasn’t that we said “No, we can’t” but that, time and again, we said “Yes, we can!”:

(image courtesy, again, of Flickr user beastandbean)

We’ve seen the disaster in the Gulf unfold over the past 30 days because of decisions that have been made over the last 30 years, as Van said. 

I expect Obama to move decisively because he’s uniquely placed, as President, to articulate and shape what the next 30 years will look like – much as Ronald Reagan shaped the last 30 years.

We’ve spent 30 years saying, “No, we can’t”. At which point do we go from “No, we can’t” to “Yes, we can”?

Arguing that Obama’s constrained by the Senate or Republicans merely means that you’re saying, “No, we can’t yet” instead of “No, we can’t” – and, frankly, that’s a distinction without a difference, because now you’re moving the goalposts to excuse your lack of achievement. 

In the world as it is, rather than the magic-ponies-and-rainbow-unicorns my critics insist I must inhabit, the last 18 months presented as good an opportunity as we’ll get anytime soon to say “Yes, we can”. The tragedy of it is that we’ve instead spent it saying “No, we can’t”. And if it makes you disappointed that I’m saying that, well, you’re going to have to live with that.

Obama’s campaign made promises. I’m making certain they were promises to keep.


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