Sunday, September 11, 2011

Judging Obama's Strength

I've been trying for some time to understand why it is it bothers me so much when I hear Democrats characterize Obama as "weak", "indecisive", "caving" and so forth. I've come to two conclusions:

1. A black man who rises in America from a position of state senator to President in six short years while defeating two of the most powerful political institutions in the country (the Clinton machine and the GOP) and does so in the face of some of the most virulent opposition seen since the days of Abraham Lincoln does not, in my mind, qualify as "weak".

2. This whole model of "weakness" and "strength" that is being used to judge Obama is nothing more than the REPUBLICAN model for what a good leader should be. We as Democrats have apparently come to the conclusion that the Republican's uncompromising attitude towards their opponents and a kill-or-be-killed approach to negotiations (politics as nothing BUT war) is the RIGHT way to govern. How could I conclude otherwise since we seem to spend so much time talking about how Republicans would do it differently (i.e., better)?

Obama promised a different model of governance. Not a left-wing version of the same right-wing intransigence that we have become used to, but a model that says that the best of our country is exemplified when finding ways to work together in order to solve our problems is more important than making the other side look "weak" and your side look "strong". He campaigned on it, he has lived it and I admire him for it.

Now I can understand the frustration of many in light of what we have seen for the last three years and I don't question anyone's right to be upset that this country has had to put up with so much crap. But I refuse to let my frustration lead me to adopt a model for judging strength that is specifically designed to make the greatest of human values (kindness, intelligence, compassion, etc.) look like "weakness".

I would hope that others would join me.

(Inspired by this)