What it Looks Like Now: The Obama Presidency

Yesterday I appeared on GRIT.TV with Laura Flanders talking about controversy surrpinding Obama’s choosing Rick Warren as the person giving the Invocation for the Inauguration. I said on the show, that to me, the choice represented 3 things:

  1. Obama has officially bgean his 2012 run, and this choices was to bring Christian conservatives to his side.
  2. To finally neutralize the rumors that he’s a Muslim, and who better to reassure White American than Rick Warren?
  3. That perhaps he actually is more of a Clintonian Democrat than Progressives would like to believe.

My co-panelists disagreed, and I wish I’d have been better prepared for such opposition. I agree that some of his policy platform looks at this point to the left of Bill Clinton, but many of the people he’s appointed to carry out policy are either to the Right of, or very directly from the Clinton Administration. I also added that Obama’s use of the Clintonian political tactic of triangulation  is very much a part of his political strategy as a “uniter.” Wikipedia defines triangulation as:

Triangulation is the name given to the act of a political candidate presenting his or her ideology as being “above” and “between” the “left” and “right” sides (or “wings”) of a traditional (e.g. UK or US) democratic “political spectrum”. It involves adopting for oneself some of the ideas of one’s political opponent (or apparent opponent). The logic behind it is that it both takes credit for the opponent’s ideas, and insulates the triangulator from attacks on that particular issue.

Obama has clearly used this strategy in his statment about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (“When bombs are raining down on your citizens[ISRAEL, THAT IS], then there is an urge to try and put an end to that.”) But beyond triangulation in speech and Cabinet choices, there is just general political calculation that is going on.

Case in point: After many re-iterations of the “I believe a marriage should be between a man and a woman” talking point, The Windy City Times just published a questionnaire from Obama in 1996 where he clearly states “I favor legalising same-sex marriages.”

Now I am not turning this into a “gotcha” blog post because I am interested in pusing Obama to try to pass same-sex marriage legislation–in the absense of something more expansive to self-define my family–I’ll take the civil union, thank you very much. But it is an example that our soon to be sworn in President is not capable of the same political re-positioning of past Democratic Presidents.  I think it’s time to put the party favors down and change the lenses in the rose-tinted glasses .  If we’re planning to have anything to really celebrate materially 4-8 years from now, we’ve got to take the kid gloves off.

Note: The New Issue of Black Commentator has apublished part 1 of a new 3-part  piece dealing with the significance of this moment, as it relates to the politics of the last 40 years withthe author, Dr. Horace Campbell refers to as the counter-revolutionary period.

One thought on “What it Looks Like Now: The Obama Presidency

  1. I watched the first twenty minutes or so and I think you were right on in comparing Obama to Clinton. The lady across from you, who kept saying Obama doesn’t need to court the right-wing, wasn’t very convincing. It’s obvious that Obama is not interested in governing with a 51% mandate like Bush did.

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