by John Hawkins | January 28, 2010 1:37 pm
If you watch Obama closely, what you’ll find is that he’s the biggest fence straddler in all of politics. Every speech, every political position, is designed to give him political maneuvering room.
During the campaign, this manifested itself in his endless speeches about “hope,” “unity,” and “change,” as if those weren’t elastic concepts that meant different things to everyone who heard them. There’s a reason why liberals, moderates, and even a few gullible conservatives all thought Obama was “their kind of Democrat” — it was because he wanted it that way. He didn’t want clarity. He wanted people to be fuzzy about what he really believed.
Now that Obama’s President, it’s not as easy to be all things to all people because whether you like it or not, you have to take sides on certain issues. Still, Obama fudges things the best he can. He’s the biggest spender since FDR, but lectures Americans on deficit spending. While he breaks his campaign pledges about openness in government, he talks ceaselessly about transparency. This allows him to be on both sides of an issue whenever it suits him.
Even when Obama does come down in favor of a particular issue, he tends to be detached and often comes across as surprisingly lukewarm about the subject. Yes, he wants Obamacare to pass — but, the details? Oh, he’ll leave that up to other people. Gays in the military? Comprehensive immigration reform? Cap and Trade. Sure, he favors those issues, but how those policies will work and when they’ll come up for a vote? Well, that’s up to the Democrats in Congress. If you don’t like how the bills work or wonder why they’re not on the schedule, blame those Democrats in Congress, not Barack Obama.
Obama’s refusal to offer full throated support for some liberal issues has become frustrating to liberals, but, it’s completely consistent with his style of governing. The good things that happen? Well, Barack Obama’s responsible for that. The bad things? Well, the devil was in the details and Obama left those to “others,” who once again let him down. That’s a style that would probably serve a bureaucrat who’s trying to navigate office politics well, but it’s not the sort of leadership we’ve come to expect from the leader of the free world.
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