Saturday, August 8, 2009

Green shoots

It’s fortunate that reality has a liberal bias, because liberals certainly don’t have real leadership.

It’s been apparent to many of us for more than a year – from the primaries up to the present day – that Our Cypher-in-Chief is constitutionally (certainly not Constitutionally) incapable of taking a stand. My hope – which began to take shape with the Fall of Lehman and the onset of the economic meltdown – has been that the right thing(s) could happen nonetheless… that the severity of the crisis and the general (or, at least, politically dispositive) consensus about its causes and nature would conspire to steer the car in the right direction, even without a driver. Or, to try another metaphor, that the force of political climate change would cut a deep canyon that pretty much determined where the river would flow. And if we know one thing about our infinitely fluid, protean President, it’s that he has a kind of genius for following the path of least resistance.

This is why, unlike most liberal commentators or lefty bloggers, I find the current state of play on the healthcare effort encouraging. Far from bumming me out, the paranoid outpourings of the GOP and their tea-bagging troops define the playing field in a very helpful way. The “debate,” such as it is, has come down to: “In this corner, Healthcare Reform. In this corner, The Loonies.”

Obama, that is, gets to be the embodiment of non-insanity. He isn’t anything in particular, and has no visible (much less visceral) convictions… but he isn’t jumping up and down screaming about the Trilateral Commission in the lobby of the Port Authority. And this devolution of the Republican Party – its incapacity to mount a politically coherent frame of reference, much less an organized plan of action – means that simply being not-crazy may be sufficient to prevail.

Indeed, it may even begin to infuse some backbone. (Well, let’s not call it that. Let’s just say that if the force of events is becoming irresistible, if the Colorado River of public policy is pouring into this newly cut Grand Canyon with increasing speed and power, President Obama is the very last person to fight that.)

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