I had lunch the other day with an old colleague of mine, and we talked politics among other things. At one point, many years ago as we were working for the same company, we had very similar, far left political views. Back then he introduced me to Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. Now he occasionally reads my blog and he told me that I became too right-wing. Almost – he paused looking for appropriate analogy – like David Brooks! (David Brooks is considered a conservative by New York Times standards). We laughed at this description of me, but then I thought, perhaps, there’s some truth to that. My colleague is disappointed with Obama because the troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frankly, I am disappointed at the Left for being disappointed with Obama. Disappointed liberals, I said, do not realize that this is the best they are going to get, this is the best person in a generation to represent their interests but they allow themselves to be whimsical rather than supportive. Do they honestly believe that an idealist like, say, Ralph Nader could ever be elected to represent them? I proceeded to explain to him why I think left wing idealism and rigidity is killing the movement and why it is necessary to have a practical approach to complex issues.
I know Obama understands it. He displays an enviable coolness of character, this ability to maintain composure and focus under the most severe pressure. I like that he does not have the propensity to rush to judgment and he doesn’t give us the presidential theatrics that the public demands, like public displays of emotion. He concentrates on task at hand while both Left and Right, like spoiled children, foaming at the mouth, demand that he does the impossible. How much more demanding we are of Obama is unbelievable. The bar that was set so low for Bush is raised to inhuman levels for Obama. Bush could kill a puppy on national TV and be applauded for doing it, Obama can don a batman costume, dive into the Gulf of Mexico and put his thumb into the leak and we’ll complain that he’s using the wrong thumb! I’m happy to see, however, that it bothers me more than it bothers him. I guess that over the course of his life he got used to idea that he must study more, work harder, be smarter and not complain about a thing just to be considered on par with the rest. That’s what makes him a perfect leader in times like these. I’m not saying he’s perfect, I’m saying that he’s the best we’ve got to steer the country through the crisis. He has the qualities to do that. Obama, see my previous post, knows the ways of the force.
As many of you know, and as obvious from the above I criticize both the liberals and conservatives. Because both have fringes and fringes are emotional. The more you get to the political center the less emotional and more practical you become. The truth is in the center, the Golden Mean, the Zen or whatever you want to call it. You can tell whether you’re in the center when if faced with a problem you say “What can be done about it now?” as opposed to “The world is coming to an end!” or “It’s so-and-so’s fault”. The Republicans scream that we’re all going to die, the Democrats screams “It’s Bush’s fault” and in the meantime Obama is trying to do something about it. The way things are going right now, however, being a centrist would mean that in addition to piloting a ship during the storm, Obama would have to step into the passenger cabin from time to time and to tell everyone to “Calm the Fuck Down!” Somewhat like this: