Becker Blog

The world according to Brian Becker

Obama’s Critics of the Left.

Posted by Brian Becker on December 1, 2008

Frank Schaeffer’s latest blog on the Huffington Post sums up pretty well my thoughts on the various liberal critics of Obama’s appointments who seem to be popping up all over the web, and a few on T.V. (Rachel Maddow anyone?). I consider myself a liberal, but at the same time I’m a political pragmatist, much like Obama, so personally I am not at all surprised by most of Obama’s appointments so far. Anyone who read The Audacity of Hope should know that Obama is not guided solely by an ideology. While he is definitely a liberal, his positions are also laced in nuance, and he likes to listen to other people’s ideas, even if they challenge his own. This was one of the things that made me enthusiastic about supporting Obama after Biden got knocked out of the running after Iowa.

Those ideological purists on the left are just as bad as those on the right, because they don’t understand how things really work. If anything, Bush’s presidency should be an example of how a purely ideological driven administration fails to lead anyone but their own side, and even eventually loses them. I may not be enthusiastic about Clinton as Secretary of State, but I’m willing to let her prove that she can do the job. If she turns out to be a failure though, I won’t be holding my tongue.

My brother is one of those ideological purists that I’m talking about. He voted for Nader in 2004 and 2008 because, according to him, our vote doesn’t matter anyway since NY always goes for Democrats (mostly true), but also because he sees being against gay marriage but for civil unions as hypocritical. I don’t disagree with that but its obvious to me that taking this position is just political posturing. In reality, anyone who is for gay marriage is unelectable in a national election in this day in age. It at least shows that their heart is in the right place on the issue, and that there’s a chance that they will show some political courage once in office to make the change. The alternative is someone who doesn’t believe in either, and in that case there is no chance for change. That isn’t acceptable to me, so I don’t think throwing my vote to a third party candidate who has no chance of winning is justified just to keep my ideological principles intact.

So how does that relate to Obama’s appointments? What I like to refer to as “Change trolls” seem to think that Obama should only appoint people who pass an ideological test, such as being against the Iraq war since the beginning, and people who agree with him on virtually everything. I submit to them, how is that any different than Bush’s appointments besides the fact that they be left wing ideologues instead of right? If Obama brought in an entire team of government novices like Bill Clinton did, the change he plans to implement via legislation would likely be hampered by people not knowing the ways of Washington. Having a lot of people who served under Clinton and come from the Senate or the House is a good thing in my eyes, because it proves that he cares about actually getting his agenda implemented as fluidly as possible.

To me, the most important change Obama can deliver (besides restoring the constitution) is competence in government. It sure would be nice to know that our leaders are once again working to do whats best for all of the American people instead of just “my” people or “their” people.


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