Friday, December 11, 2009

The Obama You Have vs. The Obama You Want

Browsing around Blogtopia (Y!SCTP), there's obviously a lot of dissatisfaction with President Obama. And that's just from the left; the right has hated him from day one. Apparently, a lot of progressives think he's turned into a continuation of shrub, and not the great liberal savior they were wishing for.
As I see it, this disappointment is a result of unrealistic expectations. There's been a lot of projection placed on Obama: "he's a good, smart man, so of course he should act strongly on the issues that I believe strongly in." Whether it be Afghanistan, Wall St., health care, gay rights, or a host of other issues, the left expected Obama to be a more progressive advocate. He isn't. Hey, I'm about as far to the left as possible, and I knew all along that Obama was no liberal.
In reality, Barack Obama has always been a moderate (as is Hillary, BTW). Don't be fooled by lofty rhetoric; every policy proposal made during the campaign leaned strongly toward the middle ground. Obama advocated "fixing problems", not "radical" changes (yeah, I know the slogan; the actual "change" proposed was minor). He's an 'establishment' manager rather than a revolutionary.
Maybe it's because I'm cynical to begin with, but I'm not all that disappointed in Obama's performance so far. He's done about what I expected (as opposed to what I might have wanted): he's been pragmatic and intelligent as he attempts to address the myriad disasters in front of us. Faced with a trashed economy, wars, and an opposition party that refuses to participate in governing, Obama has been able to make some small, steady progress. We may want a lot more, but it's unrealistic to expect it, and it may be impossible for Obama to actually change a situation that was decades in the making.
If you keep your expectations low, you're seldom disappointed. All I ever expected Obama to do was do a better job of governing than St. Sleazy McCain (or shrub) would do. What we've gotten is about what I expected.

(Added: Go over to No More Mister Nice Blog for some other views, especially in the comments, on the topic. It's a very lively, but civil, debate).


Lockwood said...

Yeah, that's more or less where I fall. I pointed out back at the inauguration that I would rant when he pissed me off, and I have. But the fact is, when I consider alternatives like McCain, Palin, shrub or Darth Cheney, it's deeply relieving to remember that Obama's in office.

pygalgia said...

As I tried to make clear, my expectations were low. I certainly wish for better, but take solace that it isn't worse.