Saturday, October 03, 2009

Change you can believe in? By degrees...

Many who responded to Obama's promise of change, myself sometimes among them, are disturbed by his willingness to trim back major initiatives. A stimulus that's one third tax cuts, with aid to states and municipalities cut back. Health care reform without a public option. Financial regulatory reform that leaves "too big to fail" banks intact. An end to torture with a continued policy of preventive detention.

Against those frustrations, set Charles M. Blow's explanation for a marked uptick in conservative sentiment among the electorate:

The Obama administration’s response to the financial and automotive crises and its pursuit of a wide range of reforms is the epitome of new and untried. Major change has come much too quickly for far too many. The response: retreat to a cocoon of conservatism.

And recall Frederick Douglass's assessment of Lincoln:
Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.
Obama won by raising hopes that he would "bend the arc of history" and specifically reverse this country's hard swing to the right over the past forty years. But he's spoken of that arc (in effect) mathematically, envisioning fundamental change as moving a battleship a few degrees. Let's see how things look when we've moved a ways around the bend.

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