My name is Chris and I am a political junkie.
I can’t help it. I always have been. I know that “experts” still debate whether someone is BORN a political junkie, if they CHOOSE junkiehood, or if there is some mysterious interaction between genes and upbringing that “activates” an unhealthy obsession with politics.
Whatever the case, I clearly remember being six years old in the summer of 1972 as the Democrats held their National Convention in Miami Beach. The night George McGovern was nominated I was in the back seat of my friend Timmy MacAteer’s car, returning to the suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware from a night at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia. Timmy’s dad was listening to the news in the front seat, as was I, (intently), in the back seat.
When I heard that George McGovern had gotten the nomination I was thrilled to the very core of my six-year old being. I knew that McGovern was anti-war and I wanted him to be our next president. When I got home, I crowed to my parents about the good news. My dad, without batting an eye or missing a beat, said “Nixon’s gonna kill him in November.”
So here it is almost forty years later and I am still left-of-liberal and I am still addicted to politics.
Because of this lifelong fixation on all things political, I feel qualified at this early juncture in his first term to comment on the Presidency of Barack Obama. These last few months have seen the near-collapse of America’s banking and automobile-manufacturing sectors. They have also seen enormous bailout packages cobbled hastily together and passed just as hastily by Congress.
We have been made privy to the tortuous legal “reasoning” employed by advisors of the Bush Administration to simultaneously justify and excuse torture. And we have heard the chorus of boos from both sides of the spectrum as liberals call for investigations and prosecutions and conservatives call for less transparency and greater immunity for those who administered the “enhanced techniques.”
We have witnessed a new Administration tackling issue after issue as critics (mainly from the Right) accuse them of trying to “do too much,” and other critics (mainly from the Left) accuse them of “not going far enough.”
I know that Barack Obama has not yet been in office for 100 days, but based on the reaction from both the Left and the Right and upon my many, many years as a political obsessive I feel absolutely confident in my judgment that President Obama will be remembered as one of our most effective Presidents ever.
He is leading exactly as he said he would—from the middle. He promised an end to blind partisanship and he is delivering. What more evidence could anyone need than the anger being hurled at the President from both sides? The Right, without a leader or a coherent philosophy, has become the Party of NO. The Far Left, with dreams of revenge governance, has become the Party of Let’s Do To Them What They Did To Us. Barack Obama, in the meantime, has become the President of What Needs To Be Done.
Being a proud member of the Far Left of course I want Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, et al to be brought to justice for their crimes against humanity. Of course I want the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to be changed so that all willing Americans can serve with pride in the Armed Forces. Of course I want banks partially nationalized. Of course I want even more funding for education.
Being a lifelong student of politics I know that Barack Obama has chosen his path as President. It is a path leading through the middle. It eschews polarization for efficacy. And it is exactly what we need as a nation to bring us out of the frightening straits we find ourselves in and to bring us together (eventually). I know it is early, but what I have seen so far from President Obama makes it clear that he is one for the ages. I look forward to seven more years of disappointment that he has not been “liberal enough.”