Politico, like everyone else, is asking. They have a pair of articles up, and the other one is What’s Right About Obama? Both articles are by the same authors, only listed in reverse order, and you can spend the same two seconds pondering that as I did. Pairing an article with its opposite is a bad idea. Editors like to do it because it seems fair and a service to readers, but it isn’t. It’s just a formula for mental mush. Spread the articles out by a couple days, at least, or better still, come that things from two different diagonals, rather than head-on. Like cooking. Keep the ingredients and dishes unique and separate for as long as possible. Keeps things fresh, and distinct, and surprising.
Anyway, back to the article. (I’m only going to talk about the “What’s-Wrong” one).
Amidst their to-be-sures and strengths-can-also-be-weaknesses perambulations, they finger an Obama strength/weakness: “Obama has always been oriented toward deliberation, contingency, and a careful calibration of possibilities and risks.” You can pretty much stop right there as far as I’m concerned. Aside from his modest center-left ideology, they just encapsulated what I like about Obama and what I will always like about Obama. Those are the qualities I want my president to have. Results will vary. Those traits didn’t serve him well in Syria? He didn’t display the classic American bulldozer form of leadership, where he orates the country up for military action by implying, or asserting an imminent national security threat (because that is how that game is played, always)? No, he didn’t. And what are we left with? Imperfect, unknowable outcomes. Like life. But one of them just might be the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal. Possibilities and risks.
I know I seem like I’m in the tank for Obama, and frankly I don’t care how it seems. I actually have no personal emotional or substantive stake in the success of his presidency that is larger than yours, if you are an American too. But yes, I am in the tank for “deliberation, contingency, and a careful calibration of possibilities and risks.” And you?