Monday, August 22, 2011

Can Obama turn Libya into political gain?

As things stand at this moment, it appears that the Libyan rebels will take Tripoli and either capture/kill Gadhafi or drive him out of the country.  In short, it looks like a victory for the rebels, NATO and the Obama administration.  The latter can take credit for finding a way for the U.S. to participate in the overthrow of Gadhafi without getting the U.S. bogged down in another war.  It was a thoughtful and measured approach to a difficult foreign policy problem, one that GW or McCain or any of the current Republican president want-a-bees for that matter could not have pulled off. 

If you are a liberal or progressive or independent, you have to be frustrated by Obama’s laid back, almost non-approach to issues, always seemingly detached, always seeking some middle way, always nuanced.  That’s a weakness for many Americans, particularly Republicans, who want a gung ho, John Wayne, simple, all-or-nothing approach.  It’s not too exciting, in fact, it is frustratingly non-exciting.  However, it is sometimes the best way.  Cool and collected may not get your blood pumping but it might just keep you safe when the chips are down.  Steady plodding often wins the race even if it feels like kissing your sister.

If you take an honest look at Obama’s record, he has really achieved a lot.  The stimulus, health reform, finance reform, and so on.  Okay, the stimulus didn’t cure the unemployment problem.  Health reform didn’t get us a single-payer system which was the only approach that made sense.  Finance reform didn’t go far enough.  Obama achieved successes but none of them were successes that sent us into the streets yelling victory.  Still, he got some things done even in the face of a Republican opposition united in a true hatred, not just of his policies, but him, a Black man who dared to be President.  You know that is the truth.

Obama isn’t going to change.  What you get is the bright, thoughtful, laid back, seeker of middle ground, plodding, non-leader, negotiator for progress-by-inches, he has always been.  Libya gives him and his PR team a chance to demonstrate to Americans that, in dangerous times, whether from threats from abroad or threats, economic and otherwise, right here, an Obama-style President isn’t such a bad deal after all.  In fact, it might just be a very good deal indeed.  Take Libya, for example.

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