Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2009 / 12 Tishrei 5770
A Pragmatic Look at Obama's Pragmatism
By Jonah Goldberg
It was a shabby bit of rhetoric, even for a campaign. Insinuating that McCain, of all people, didn't have the intestinal fortitude to take the fight to bin Laden was not only absurd on its face, it smacked of overcompensation coming from the former community organizer whose greatest foreign policy passion prior to his presidential bid had been nuclear disarmament.
But the line did what it needed to do: communicate that Obama had the sort of true grit required to fight the good, i.e. popular, war in
Now, I think it would amount to both breathtaking cynicism and, far worse, bad policy for Obama to abandon
But if it's sincere, I welcome Obama's willingness to rethink his position on an issue in which he invested so much political capital and machismo.
Obama came into office swearing he was a pragmatist who would support any approach that worked. He liked to invoke
That spirit has been woefully lacking in Obama's presidency so far. During the campaign, Obama's top domestic priorities were reform of health care, education and energy. When an economic crisis that is -- according to Obama, at least -- second only to the Depression exploded in front of him, Obama the alleged pragmatist concluded that, mirabile dictu, his year-old agenda was the perfect solution.
Obama insisted that as president of both "red" and "blue" America, he was open to ideas from both sides of the aisle. But his stimulus bill was as partisan and one-sided as Democrats claimed
After ending the war in
Since being elected, it seems that his off-the-cuff slipup wasn't that off the cuff. Despite an ever-increasing number of lies, subterfuges and outrages on the part of the Iranians, the Obama administration has seemed convinced that they can be talked into compliance with the so-called international community.
But the optimist can look at Obama's newfound open-mindedness on
Alas, there's another way of reading recent events. Critics always claimed that Obama was a very left-wing fellow who was never the centrist he claimed to be. The pessimist might suspect that Obama's newfound pragmatism only manifests itself when it permits him to abandon the centrist positions that may have helped him get elected but are of no use to him politically anymore. What seemed like principled centrism in 2008 might simply be exposed as left-wing expediency in 2009.
Here's hoping the optimists are right.
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