The Centerist/Leftist/Marxist/Socialist/ Right Wing President (Or- How Obama Became So Well Loved)

In a way, I do miss the Bush years- they were funny, at least satirically- a government full of Old White Men, Orange Alerts, Black Ops and Red Ink….a colorful era full of Pre-Emptive Liberation, Shock and Awe, Up-Armoring and Old Europe. There was no problem finding material in Bush-isms, the Vice President shooting people and outing secret agents. Ah, Good times.

But then, like all good parties, it went downhill…bubbles popping everywhere and we faced the prospect of not only causing own economic collapse but the planet’s as well. Still it was the end of 2008 and last call was coming up anyway. So we voted in a young, vibrant and charismatic intellectual who promised us Change. And God knows, we needed changed change.

At the time, I personally wanted what I thought was the best of both worlds; I wanted change in the form of the first woman president who was also part of the Beltway’s inner circle and knew the ropes. I wanted someone who was there when Washington took us out of a recession and gave us the biggest budget surplus in history. In short, Hillary.

And while I’ve come to wholeheartedly support Barack Obama, it’s because of the very reasons I was wary of him before the election. I was afraid he was too Liberal and idealistic to be able deal with the innate stupidity and selfishness of 95% of our elected representatives. I was also completely wrong.

Obama is a true politician and that’s a good thing. You see, politics is about deals, some straightforward, some backroom. It’s about steering away from the extremes and navigating a middle course between heading for the rocks on one side or sailing so far out to sea on the other that you can’t even see the shore. I know Barack Obama is doing exactly this because everybody from both extremes is mad at him. That’s the sign of good politics…remember “a good negotiation is one where both parties walk equally unhappy”?

The Left is mad at Obama for not doing things he never said he’d do in the first place or for not doing everything he did promise in his first year. They thought he was gonna end our two current wars, immediately amend the Constitution, making Gay Marriage a national law and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. They thought he was gonna prosecute Cheney/Bush et al for war crimes and open the government. They figured by March of 09 at the latest he would have ended the Great Recession and balanced the budget. And they thought he would turn America ‘Green” instantly, eliminating nuclear energy and fossil fuels completely.

The Right is furious because he’s trying and succeeding to do these things even a little bit, despite everything they can throw at him. He actually got a version of Healthcare passed. They’re also secretly angry that only a year after both Parties said we were staring at a Second Great Depression, the economy seems to be slowly picking up. And they’re furious too that can’t admit they hate him just for who he is…a handsome young Mixed Race intellectual. They openly hoped he would fail and, so far at least, he’s not.

He’s ticked off the Left and flummoxed the Right by advocating both new nuclear energy plants and more offshore drilling and increased wind and solar projects…in other words a long and short term energy policy. Both sides, forgetting that it was Bush who bailed out the big banks and insurance companies, either rail against his free spending ways or complain that the little guy isn’t getting enough help. But it was that seemingly silly little clause Obama stuck into the TARP package that limited salaries and bonuses that caused a run of repayments which (at least partially) gave us “Cash for Clunkers”, the Home Buyer Tax Credit and an extension of unemployment benefits.

Everybody’s unhappy that he’s more warlike than they predicted (or hoped) he’d be. He’s drawing down in Iraq (in accordance with a Bush Administration agreement), but he’s upping the fight in Afghanistan just as he said he would. He’s pressuring Pakistan to do the same, something Bush never did.

I’m not sure he’ll succeed in Afghanistan; Bush’s man Karzai is a flakey ally, Afghani’s are justifiably leery since we’ve left them in the lurch twice before- under Reagan after the Soviet’s pulled out and after Bush II attacked Iraq instead of “Staying the Course”. Anyway, Afghanistan has always lived up to it’s reputation of causing great nations to come to grief there.

So while everybody else seems to be dissatisfied with Barack Obama, I find myself pleasantly surprised that I’m happy with the job he’s doing so far. Somebody has started putting up billboards with the picture of George Bush and asking the question, “Do you miss me yet?” Well, no, except of course for satire’s sake.

In November are the Congressional elections and the Reds are going to go full bore to repeat of 1994’s Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution. They’ve unleashed some untrained attacks dogs in the process…The Tea Bags and Sarah Palin. I believe they’re going to seriously regret that before all’s said and done, but that’s another story. The story here is that the President needs all the help he can get and so does our country. He’ll make mistakes sure, but I believe he’s flexible enough to recognize them and correct them. He can’t correct all the disasters of eight years of Cheney/Bush in his first two. But we asked for Change and he’s changing things. Too much for some, not enough for others. And that’s exactly what America needs right now, a Centrist President.