To the usual group of thought police: Bug off! We are here to try to do something not worship Obama. I say this because I know what is coming. They will read the title and nothing else and then vent. It is knee jerk stuff.
Dan is the person who set my career on track. He has authored many books and whether you agree with him or not he deserves being heard.
There is something radically wrong with our present situation and any clue we can get may be helpful. Dan has something important to say Here it is:Obama's Failure: A Presidency Without Ideology
If anyone has a better answer my only question to you is: why are you keeping it secret?
Read on below if you have an open mind.
I'll just give a few highlights and comments of my own. If you choose to comment before reading you are part of the problem, not the solution.
He starts with this premise which is an oversimplification but also good grounds for his further points:
There are two ideologies in American politics and they can be stated succinctly:Given the context of this discussion there may be a third: opportunism or careerism or somethiong like that. Dan actually goes on to suggest something like that:
Conservative ideology: The business of America is business.
Liberal ideology: The business of America is social justice.
An important corollary is that politics without ideology reduces to careerism. Self-aggrandizement. Why go into politics if there is no ideology behind one's politics? The only sensible reason is to serve one's personal interests. A counter question: Isn't it possible to merely be pragmatic and have no underlying ideology? And the response is another question: Pragmatic to what end? If you have no ideology where are you going with your pragmatic political career except to the bank to make deposits?Harsh things to say about a great man like Obama! He IS a great man. He is also operating in a historical context that has dimensions that only time will allow us to totally comprehend. Yet is it not possible that Dan has nailed it? He has an agenda. He has tried to negotiate. He has done so many things. Yet from where many of us sit he is a great big failure. Now acknowledging Obama's colossal failure does NOT imply that ANYONE could have done better.
Those are harsh words.
However Dan raises a question that many of us have shared in one form or another. Why does he not stick to the picture he painted as a candidate? That picture was seductive, inspirational and effective!
Dan has hard words:
Obama is no political philosopher and the idea that he can teach other politicians, especially older politicians, what's best for the country is a ridiculous and naïve idea.Those ARE harsh words. I have my own slant that goes even further but also excuses Obama as being a victim of the times and the nature of the system. No one has a handle on it all at this moment in history and that is both bad and realism.
Meanwhile we tread water. We wait for the next strong president and hope he/she will have an ideology that will make this a better country. There's truism that offers some hope: Business without social justice is rotten business, and social justice without business is likely to make everyone miserable. Conservative/liberal compromise is important, but it's doubtful that it can be achieved by a presidency without ideology.
A presidency without ideology is a dead presidency of no use to anyone except the person who sits in the Oval Office -- it's a self-aggrandizing ego trip.
What I question most is the idea that this will be solved by a "strong" presidency. In a government structured to serve a ruling plutocracy there can be no such thing.
UPDATE FROM DAN AGIN: (May 3 8:19 EST)
I don't know how to get into the discussion of my HuffPo piece on
your Diary. But here is a too long comment from me, for what it's
worth. (Hello, and glad to see you're still kicking ass!)
Dear Folks: I'm Dan Agin. I hate to jump in here for fear of getting
chopped up, but given all the apparent fury and frenzy here, maybe
I ought to say a few things. I wrote the piece in HuffPo in a hurry
because I was angry and needed to vent. I voted for Obama twice,
the first time with joy and the second time with resignation. He
seems like a nice guy, but he's apparently not a fighter or chooses
not to fight. Mitch McConnell announced early on that his job and
the job of the GOP Congress was to make sure O had only one
term. I remember when I was on an NPR interview show early after
the first election and I was asked if O's winning the election meant a
significant change in race relations. I said no. I said the politically
active racist right would do whatever they could to get the Obama
family out of the White House. And as far as I can see, most of the
so-called polarization is due to racism more than to philosophical
differences. Now what about ideology? It's a word we throw around.
A better word in this context would be political vision--what one
wants to achieve, given the power of the presidency once one is
elected. For me, but certainly not for everyone, there are only two
political visions of importance during one's brief flash of life--a drive
for social justice, and a drive for anything else. That's my take on
politics and life. Given that, I'm angry about where we are. We have
millions of people unemployed, many who will never work again.
We lost 8,000 mostly working class young people in two stupid
wars (certainly not fought by the children of the war hawks). The
financial people who caused this massive recession have never
been punished for it or lost anything from it. The policies of the O
administration concerning war and terrorism and Guantanamo
aren't much different from Bush's policies. And so on. Obama
moved us from a war in Iraq to a war in Afghanistan. The orginal
incursion into Afghanistan was to root out Al Queda. They left. The
warhawks, contractors, and all who make money from war needed
a reason to stay--the Taliban! Well, damn, we armed the Taliban
against the Russians and now we've had 3000 Americans killed by
our own weapons. Smart war, right? Osama bin Laden an O
accomplishment? Osama bin Laden was tracked by the CIA for
years and then killed by a Special Forces team. All O did was
approve the raid. He did not "get" bin Laden, the CIA and Special
Forces team did that. Gay rights? Up until recently O claimed he
was "evolving". Hell, he ought to have finished "evolving" on that
issue by the time he finished college. On too many social issues, O
has shown a serious reluctance to give the country more than
rhetoric. The Executive Branch has tremendous power, but he
seems afraid or reluctant to use it. Guantanamo is maybe the
strongest example, but there are others. Anyway, so what about
ideology and its pros and cons? I think in politics ideology is
extremely important for some issues and one needs to take a stand
one way or the other. You're either pro choice or pro life. You're
either individualist or a collectivist. You either put social justice as a
top priority or you don't. Many people thought Obama would be for
the people before anything else. That has turned out to be not so,
and thus many people, including myself, are disappointed. Obama
seems to have no place he wants to go--at least no place he wants
to go seriously enough to act on it. Meanwhile the most important
problem at the moment remains unemployment and the millions of
lives, young and old, that are being ruined because of it. The reality
is that O has done nothing of significance about it. Yes, FDR was
pressured by California white greed to intern the Japanese. But he
risked his life and all his political capital to help the people suffering
in the Great Depression--risked everything by using the power of
the Executive Branch in the face of a hostile Congress and Wall
Street. That's all. I'm not a regular here, so my best to you. Dan