Sunday, January 25, 2009


I like this guy. I do. I feel like he gets it. When I'd watch him debate McCain I felt like I was in his corner, that he was speaking my language, and that his smirk at the old guy's approach was my smirk too.

I think some good things are going to happen. I am interested to see where his dialogical approach gets the US in its relations with foreign nations.

But its awfully disappointing when one day he is closing a prison camp and promising no more torture and the next he is lifting a ban on foreign relief agencies that condone abortion. On the one hand, protecting the rights of the possibly innocent, or at least being humane to the guilty. On the other hand, sidelining the rights of the really innocent, and being inhumane to the unborn. All for a woman's health? Since when is an abortion safer than a birth? But that's another discussion, I suppose. I hope he does some other things to limit abortion, like he seems to have suggested he might.

Mostly I do like this guy. I was moved, like most people, to see Jesse Jackson weeping at Obama's election. I mean, the guy was in the hotel room when MLK was shot, only 40 years ago! Where this country has come, and where it could go, it is hopeful and exciting in many respects.

But a reality check is in order too. I loved on Jon Stewart where he recited an Obama quote from the inauguration in a George-Bush voice. Some things will stay the same. I also laughed when I heard a political commentator say that it will be "refreshing to have someone govern by principles rather than expediency."

Are you kidding? The whole problem people had with Bush was that his values! Let's not pretend he had no values or principles himself. The real debate is which values. Which principles the nation ought to go forward on. For my part I think I like a lot of Obama's principles (I can't pretend I know a lot about him). But I don't like them all. Or at least I don't like what happens to some of them when push comes to shove with other principles.

So there is hope, yes, but also some concern. Concern over this abortion thing, for sure. But I have to say, also concern over the people of my own faith who are likely to caricature and even demonize the guy rather than argue with/support him principle-by-principle on a case-by-case basis. (I hope they prove me wrong).

I hope he does some good. I am intrigued and I must admit I hold out some hope. But even if this guy did every single thing right he would not be the Messiah. He will not save the world. In fact, I'm afraid that even some of his best intentions will go unrealized. Not trying to be a downer, but I feel like a more realistic outlook is needed in order for the people to really follow through on the goals that the trend-setters set before them. Environmental clean-up, foreign peace, and so on . . . these won't happen overnight, they won't come without their losses, and they won't be accomplished without some new problems arising.

So let's spare this guy the Messiah complex and see what he can do in real-time. And if you are American, write him a letter on this abortion thing, but don't oppose him to the wall. He's going to do some good things---Christ-like things even---and should be encouraged in that regard.


Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

You wrote:
"The whole problem people had with Bush was his values! Let's not pretend he had no values or principles himself."

yeah. Absolutely.

I don't quite agree with you on the abortion thing (I don't really mind the ban being lifted, though it doesn't exactly excite me either), but I like the way you seem to be thinking about it. Thank God there are reasonable, intelligent people in the abortion debate.

I do think it's important to keep our expectations realistic with Obama, and not deify him. However, I don't think most people are actually in much danger of that. I get the sense that behind all the messiah rhetoric most people are fully aware of Obama's humanity. But maybe I have a too optimistic view of humanity. Maybe some of us really do expect Obama to solve almost every world problem in the next 100 days.

For me I'm just expecting a good -possibly great- presidency, not the birth of a new religion (God forbid!) or something.

jon said...

well, hopefully most Obama fans are like you. i agree, probably when the hysteria boils down the HOPE mantra will be transfused with a healthy bit of reality/reasonability.

still, i will be interested to see what happens when obama falls short. or maybe he won't. maybe he'll change everything. who knows.

i imagine there are ugly times ahead when the republicans strike. i hope not. i hate that mud-slinging stuff. maybe we won't see it.

clever irony there Matthew: "the birth of a new religion (God forbid!)"

Trev said...

What really surprised me about Obama was his appointment of Hillary as Secretary of State. The fact that he isn't surrounding himself with a bunch of "yes" men (and women) says a lot about his character.

His battles within the oval office will be just as fierce as without.