Monday, 21 December 2009

President Obama - the best!

Those of us who are left of centre in our political convictions are often very idealistic. Our ideas are worthy and good, but often they will not fly in the real world of hard-nosed politics.

We were exultant when Barack Obama was elected to be our President. We expected great things of him. We were too starry eyed to see the world of real politics. So we are a bit discouraged, and far less exuberant about his Presidency.

The American contribution to the climate change conference in Copenhagen falls far short of our ideals, as do the likely changes to our health care system.

Nonetheless if John McCain had been elected...........?

It is all too easy for us to forget that the United States of America is an essentially “right of centre” country, and that any President must lead at least from the centre.

We also forget that the American Senate is innately conservative (note the lower case “c”), and is therefore very unlikely to vote in favour of truly radical measures.

In other words, President Obama’s options are strictly limited. He is in name the “Chief Executive”, but his Executive powers are circumscribed by the checks and balances of our Constitution.

We should also remember that, given his very brief tenure as a U.S. Senator, this President has a minimal stash of political clout. Unlike L.B.J. he does not have a host of “favours to be returned”.

Barack Obama is a consensus builder, whilst L.B.J. was a “wheeler-dealer par-excellence”.

It’s likely that those halcyon days of wheeling and dealing are far past gone.


Recognising that “politics is the art of the possible”, I am grateful for my President and his generous and wise understanding of our domestic and international realities.

Domestically he is a President who is on the “right side of history” unlike his opponent John McCain who was stuck in the 1970’s. (Better an Obama who governs from the centre that a McCain who would have been in hock to the far right!)

Internationally President Obama’s truthful and genuinely humble stances enable me to be “proud to be an American”.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Michael. My international friends in the blogosphere were generally disappointed in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. I was cheered that a US president actually made a morally complex address about the uses and limits of power. Like you I am glad he is my president. Challenges abound, but he seems steady. He is not perfect, nobody is, but the disappointment of the left in him disappoints me. The perfect is often the enemy of the good, and liberals often would rather be right than effective.