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By Novenator from
President Barack Obama is a pragmatist who has taken many compromise positions that have left many on the left slightly disillusioned.  However considering the political climate in America, this is as much real change as we can expect for the moment, and it is far better than the alternative.

Cindy Sheehan, the woman who took on the failed Bush regime after her son was killed in the Iraq War recently published a series of condemnations of President Barack Obama on her blog.  I expect attacks from the right wing, although honestly I am a bit surprised how venomous and outrageous a majority of them are, but am finding criticism more frequent from the left these days.

The problem here is that Cindy, like soo many people cannot understand that Obama is a pragmatist. I am a big supporter, but he has disappointed me on numerous issues, such as not immediately repealing the Patriot Act, FISA, and not ending rendition.

However, in lieu of the cultural climate in America, I think people forget that he is a pragmatist, he genuinely wants to reach across the aisle and find some middle ground, despite the 'he's a commie!' rhetoric from the obstructionist right. This may be a flaw in the end, but it is politically wise and could lead to more progressive change in the long run. After all, would you rather have Barack Obama and Joe Biden or John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House?

Granted, this is a compromise position, but as someone who spends a majority of my time in very red parts of the countryside, I can tell you this, he still seems quite foreign to them and they do not trust him (speaking generally here), so his pragmatism is making minor inroads. If he tries to do to much, his reach will be overextended and this will trigger a backlash, just like it did in 1994, leading to the conservatives retaking congress and effectively hamstringing any shades of change we could have possibly enacted.

So before anyone on the left condemns Obama outright, consider that you might be playing right into the hands of the Republican think tanks who are eager to demonstrate that disapproval of Obama is universal. We on the left need to keep pressuring him to do the right thing (there's an FDR quote of that somewhere), but need to be constructive in our criticism.

If you like, read more articles from the site like Ted Kennedy's Letter to the Pope, Delivered by President Obama (Full Text), Do not prosecute Bush-era interrogators, unless... and Health Care Reform Link Compendium

Originally posted to eyesonobama on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:44 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I agree, but I think tactics are missing. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesonobama, Johnny Q, MichaelNY

      If you want to be seen as pragmatic and middle of the road, you need to lead with you preferred position and then be seen to accept ideas from the other side. Preferable publicly trading point for point with the other side.

      Instead, I think Obama's tactics have been bad. He leads with  the compromise, and then feels pressured to compromise even more. He let's little details overwhelm discussions of the big issues and imperatives.

      I hope he learn to be effective, as well as pragmatic.

    •  Please can we have a new rule (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JoanMar, eyesonobama

      that anyone who posts that Obama has failed is automatically banned for three months.

      It is far too early to pass such a judgement. Any such judgement is based entirely on speculation as to what might happen over the coming months. Therefore anyone making such a claim should be banned until the predictions on which they are basing that judgement have come to fruition.

      Chill the f*** out. I got this.

      by ultraviolet uk on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 02:22:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  pragmatism is not a synonym for bipartisan (5+ / 0-)


    Pragmatism is the philosophy where practical consequences and real effects are vital components of meaning and truth.

    "At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game." Sen. Ben Nelson

    by ferg on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:50:54 PM PDT

  •  I agree except he really does need to step up on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    M Sullivan


  •  to give credence to those who would never vote (5+ / 0-)

    for Obama because he is a dem ,or a black man ,means nothing to me.This nation elects it president based on a majority .The elections have consequences remind them of those words please.We listened to them for 8 years.It is their time to be angry not ours.No matter what Obama does they will never vote for him anyway regardless of what he does.

  •  Please save this country from pragmatists! (6+ / 0-)

    When did "pragmatism" ever become this breathtaking thing that excuses all failures?

    When Obama's pragmatism creates true transparency, provides healthcare for all, holds those who caused torture accountable, stops the unholy wars this country is engaged in - then and then only will I applaud pragmatism.

    Nothing great has ever been accomplished by a pragmatist.  Or at least not a pragmatist who was more concerned with being bipartisan than with getting something accomplished.

    "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

    by gustynpip on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:54:16 PM PDT

  •  The left has taken a right turn on Dogmatic Ave. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A right turn as in conservative ...

    Part of the reason I'm a liberal is I don't claim to have all the answers all the time.

    Or as Bertrand Russell put it:

    The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.

    What seems strange to me is how someone can be super liberal (like I am) and not see that the U.S. government is both corrupt and corrupting.  It's an empire, and most Americans are happy with that.  We want to chant "We're #1" because we can beat up on all the other countries, even if we're lucky to make the Top 40 in health care, education and other areas.  We traded those things in for an aggressive military and national security state.

    So to me it's very illiberal to think one man is going to clean up this whole mess, particularly in his first year.  I admire Barack Obama from a distance as an accomplished person who brings more intelligence, decency and courage to the White House than most if not all of the previous 43 occupants.  But he probably won't do much to make America look the way I want it to look.  The 1%-- and the 98% they bully into submission-- wouldn't allow it.

    Being liberal usually means being outside the power structure.

    But if Obama is going to be like anyone-- not LBJ, not FDR, and please not Bush-- make it Eleanor Roosevelt who had within her such tremendous moral authority.

    •  What do you mean, "We"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as in "We want to chant "We're #1" because we can beat up on all the other countries, even if we're lucky to make the Top 40 in health care, education and other areas.  We traded those things in for an aggressive military and national security state."

      Now it's certainly true that there's an aggressive minority that does want that, and it's also true that they have more influence than they would/should otherwise have because they are backed by powerful corporate interests.

      However, you'll notice that they lost the last election.

      •  "We" would never touch the defense budget (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Though Barney Frank was brave enough to point this out in his town hall.  But he would never be President, not in this country.

        Because can you imagine if Obama said he was cutting the defense budget in half to pay for health care and education?

  •  In what way is Obama being pragmatic? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's not what it looks like from where I sit.

    •  where do you sit on healthcare as a right verso2 (0+ / 0-)
      •  I don't use that terminology. (0+ / 0-)

        though I know (and respect) people who do.

        I believe that the US should provide healthcare as part of its basic package of public services, available to citizens regardless of health or employment status, just as they are now protected by the armed services, police, or fire departments (for a start).

        There are a number of ways in use across the industrialized countries to achieve this end, as we can (and should, but are not now having) a reasonable discussion about what methods would work best for us. The important thing to note, as has been done many times on DKos, is that many of our competitors achieve better health outcomes at far lower cost to their citizens and with far less of a burden on GDP, meaning that they typically have several percentage points of GDP that they can spend on other things than we do.

        The principle of universality through public provision therefore makes sense both from a humanitarian point of view and a hard-headed business economics point of view.

        I don't use the "rights" terminology because we have not in the US hitherto used the language of rights in regards to public services, so doing so now I find a bit confusing.

  •  Considering the poltical climate? Are you serious (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, Johnny Q

    How much better do you want the political climate to get for a democratic president?

    Repent. The end is extremely f*cking nigh.--28 days later

    by voroki on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:10:13 PM PDT

    •  Well, that was true BEFORE they caved on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q

      healthcare reform before the fight even got started.  Since caving - you notice they're not nearly so popular anymore?  Don't you think they'd get the message?  But no.  Their solution is to cave even more.  Mindboggling.  Truly mindboggling.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:17:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pragmatism can be a bad thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While it's often associated with practical solutions, pragmatism as a political philosophy has a dangerous and mixed record in this country.

    There is something to be said for ideology.  Ideology keeps a party from doing things that may seem expedient, but are in fact harmful to their long term vision for the country.

    All kinds of evils have been perpetuated in this country in the name of pragmatism.

    I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places...arousing and persuading and reproaching you.-Socrates

    by The Navigator on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:17:45 PM PDT

  •  The question could be: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q

    What is he being pragmatic about?

    To get a real HCR bill passed?  or to funnel corporate dollars to the Democratic election coffers?

    corporate PACs, its not just a bribe, its a lifestyle.

    by rubine on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:52:59 PM PDT

  •  The Left has always been factious (0+ / 0-)

    That is why we are not likely to stay in power very long unless we learn to play well with those who hold differences of opinion on some issues and policy outcomes.

    People (read:voters), are drawn to strength and we do not is not what we project.

    As we see in many of the comments, people thought that all Dems think alike and would just fall in line. Now that reality has hit them in the face, they want to blame Obama!

    The President got over 60+ million votes and they weren't all from Progressives, though you wouldn't know that from reading any Progressive blog.

    Everyone counts, stand united and win, or stay spiteful, and watch the Republicans return to power and further ruin the country.

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 02:24:20 PM PDT

  •  Cindy Sheehan is a greenie, not a dem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so she doesn't represent Democratic Party leftists.

    I respect and value her, but I'm also realistic about the fact that she has agendas.

  •  Is he a pragmitic politician? (0+ / 0-)

    choosing compromise that benefits his political career, or is he pragmatic in terms of the substantive outcomes he seeks?

    In the case of healthcare reform, he is letting congress hash out the healthcare bill so he can come in later and take credit for whatever they come up with - if it is popular. Or he can blame congress if the outcome is unpopular. That is pragmatic politics, not pragmatic solution-making.

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