Ideology

Via Avedon, a piece from Paul Rosenberg on whether Obama is a transformative president:

Everyone has an ideology, whether they know it or not. But when your ideology has you – that’s when you’re an ideologue. It’s not a matter of “extremism” but of rigidity and blindness – detachment from reality. Which is why Barack Obama is one of the most ideological presidents we’ve ever had. And being imprisoned in his “pragmatist” ideology is key to his numerous pragmatic train wrecks, as well his less-noted failures to even take on several really big, really significant problems.


It’s not a matter of intelligence. Barack Obama is clearly one of the smartest men to ever occupy the Oval Office. President of the Harvard Law Review, four years from state senator to President of the United States. First black president. These are not the accomplishments of a stupid, or even just a reasonably competent man.


Unfortunately, however, smart people can often be quite dumb – not just do dumb things, but do them over and over and over again. And while Obama’s rapid rise to power was a tale that highlighted his intelligence, his time in office – now at its half-way point – has been a tale that highlights the limits of that intelligence. Those limits are deeply implicated in his ideology – a fanatical belief in compromise, no matter what – that has served him admirably on a personal level in his rapid climb to power, but that fundamentally cripples him in the exercise of that power once it is in his hands.

Go read, let me know what you think.

4 Responses to Ideology

  1. imhotep January 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Maybe Obama is an ideologue and maybe he’s not. Maybe Obama is the smartest guy in the room who knows lots about all kinds of things and maybe not. But what Obama is is a Capitalist. Capitalism is an ideology and most Capitalists are ideologues. Are you (the ‘you’ who is ‘us’) a Capitalist ideologue? Most Americans—Left, Right, and Center—-are. Which is why America is failing.

  2. quixote January 11, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    What I think? It’s symptomatic of people like Rosenberg being desperate to believe in the fundamental goodness of their leaders. “Gee whiz. Obama’s making a pig’s breakfast of it for the 99% because he just doesn’t get it. (But he means well.)”

    Versus: “Obama is funneling money to his base because he loves wealth and power, and wants to become a life member of the club. (And you’re not even a pixel on his radar.)”

    It’s deeply disturbing to really understand that you’re just Soylent Green for the people who control your life.

  3. scott January 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I agree with the commenters above. I don’t think that the ideology at work here is really “compromise” so much as it is his acceptance of the assumption that the people who run the markets are the real engine of our economy and mustn’t be unduly disturbed. Compromise is an abstraction that begs the question, compromise in the service of what? My answer would be that his compromising serves the interests of those elites who disclaim any responsibility for the current crisis and whose proposed solution to it is that the rest of us should be made poorer in the name of “shared sacrifice.”

  4. Adams January 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    F**king brilliant. Made my day.

    Barry…”acts as one completely engulfed in the mindset of the old order, doing everything possible not to disturb it, constantly reminding folks of just how incremental his sought-for changes are…’

    “This predicament drives preemptive presidents to be pragmatic, compromising, non-ideological, and unorthodox. They triangulate in order to survive. As a result, preemptive presidents often deeply disappoint their own party faithful, who crave greater ideological purity and stronger principled stands. To members of their own party, it sometimes seems as if preemptive presidents never stand up for their principles; instead, they are always temporizing, compromising, and letting their political opponents push them around.”

    Barry sez: “Strumming my pain with his fingers, Singing my life with his words, Killing me softly with his song…”

    Nailed him. Very worth reading. Thank you, Susie.

    Just one question: Who, in the name of dog, ever, ever described Barry as “transformative?”

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