A Pragmatic President – Disappointment or Kudos?

Slate Magazine has an article Today discussing what we’ve learned about President Obama so far.  It certainly wasn’t an endorsement of his presidency, nor was it overly critical.  However, one point was how he’s become a pragmatic leader rather than an ideological leader.  The tone suggested that this may not be what the electorate had hoped when he was elected.

President Obama gets it.  He understands the polarization in Washington, the extent of problems facing the Nation and the World.  The time is not right for ideology alone to rule.  The country’s problems are too severe to say it’s ‘my way or the highway’.  For those who are disappointed that the rhetoric of the campaign has not matched action during his term should be patient.  When looking over Obama’s body of work in four years, or eight, the promises and ideology promoted through his 2008 campaign will have been achieved.  This doesn’t mean his specific promises of releasing torture photos or cutting taxes to 98% of Americans.  It means the larger ideologies that these more specific promises are inclusive of.  He will end torture and investigate and cut taxes.  Patience and these will come to light.

The torture issue is a pefect example.  The Left is disappointed that investigations haven’t taken place, all memos not released, pictures still held secret, and prosecutions are not forthcoming.   The loudest opponents of torture claim to hear similar themes and words that President Bush used.

It was easy during the campaign to rail against the Bush policies and techniques.  But without being in the White House, one cannot fathom the political, legal, and ideological issues that face a President when trying to live to his campaign promises.  President Obama is willing to take the heat being slow in investigation or prosecution.  He’s willing to be railed against in the media and for not keeping his promise not to release the pictures of torture.  But he sees the bigger picture.  Why is important to release the pictures? Why is it important to prosecute torture?  Why?  It’s not for political payback or gain.  It’s the values of this Country have been corrupted.  Our standing around the World compromised.  That’s what needs to be fixed.  Will releasing pictures do that? No.  Will a rush to judgement do that? No.  Does alienating all of the Right do that? No.

His approach is more finessed.  Let’s not release these pictures to give our enemies more fight or continue to rekindle the vivid details of our programs.  Instead, release information that helps us understand (e.g. the memos) what’s happened.  Allow independent investigations to occur – on Capitol Hill and through the media.  Continue to gather evidence and let the guilty continue to incriminate themselves (e.g. Cheney).   To do this right, the Left and Right, need to come together – to show the World that, united, this Country doesn’t believe in torture.  When it isn’t the central item on the news for the sensational aspects, that’s when real progress can be made to repair our Nation’s image.  Obama realizes this can’t happen overnight and to do it right, we can’t rush to complete.

Torture is only one issue, but this philosophy works across everything Obama is trying to accomplish.  His platform has moved forward in every direction he’s promised.  He can’t be Ronald Reagan and say to hell with the Democrats.  He can’t be Kennedy and talk in grandiose terms of this Country and our capabilities.  He has to be more like his hero, Abraham Lincoln who did what was nescessary to save the union – simply not out of ideology, but the practical side of what was happening in the Country at the time.

To be bogged down in one issue – nuclear arms, terrorist states, budget deficits, energy, gay marriage, abortion, the economy will stagnate all the other issues.  Utilizing all his political capital will render him useless.

Give President Obama some time.  His ideology has remained sound. Has he not provided the visual accompaniment to those views – no.  But his picture and expectations are much larger than single point hits for political purposes.

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