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The Content of His Character

January 31, 2010

Obama, it turns out, is not the progressive many of his supporters — that includes me — had hoped for. He did not put up much of a fight when the Senate dropped the public option from its reform bill. He is sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Most recently, in what Paul Krugman describes as a “complete concession to Reaganism,” Obama has proposed a discretionary spending freeze for the next three years. None of this is change I can believe in.

When Obama took office, many progressives were hoping for another FDR; what we’re getting, it seems, is another Clinton — a centrist, in other words. (Certainly, McCain’s portrayal of Obama as a radical of the Bill Ayers-Jeremiah Wright ilk has proven wildly inaccurate.)

The issues are, of course, more important than the man. Yet, a recent Q and A between Obama and Republican lawmakers (see the full video here) reminded me of why I supported him in 2008 and why I continue to support the president. Specifically, the Q and A reminded me, once again, of Obama’s willingness to carefully consider proposals from the opposing side; his calm, respectful demeanor; his insistence that claims that “just aren’t true” be thrown out of debate; and, above all, his desire to overcome partisan wrangling and actually solve real problems. (I was also reminded of how utterly unfounded GOP rhetoric has become, but that’s another post.)

Obama may be another Clinton, but — if we are to judge him by the content of his character and not just by the color of his ideology — it looks like he is going to be a much, much better Clinton.

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