Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking Sides

If there’s anything that ails humanity, it’s thinking like this.

And this in particular, which, to me, is one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard said of the world of politics:
You have to stay on message, follow the polls, listen to your advisers (who are writing the message and taking the polls) and realize that when it comes to doing what is right versus doing what is expedient, you do what is expedient so that you can get reelected and do what is right in the second term. If at all possible. And it will help your legacy. And not endanger the election of others in your party. And not hurt the brand. Or upset people too much.
And there’s this:
You could not put the conventional wisdom more clearly: It is far better for a president to do nothing than to choose a side. Even if the side he chooses is the right one from an ethical or moral perspective, it is a “blunder” politically because inevitably it will upset some people.
And this:
The problem for Obama is that he appears to have taken seriously all the “change” stuff he promised during his campaign. And he has been unable to make the transition from candidate to president.
But Roger Simon, writing at Politico.com, speaks the truth in a clever bit of writing that’s bound to be misinterpreted across the board.

He doesn’t like the namby-pamby Democrats who would have a Democratic president choose expediency and preservation of the party over doing the right thing. Nor does he like the hawkish Republicans who are rubbing their hands with glee as President Obama chooses the other side in the idiotic battle over whether an Islamic community center and mosque should be built in the vicinity of lower Manhattan, a decision they hope they can exploit for political gain, rather than for anything else such as, you know, rapproachment with American Muslims.

Simon dares suggest that Obama is doing the right thing for the right reason, rather than doing what is expedient to stay in office or cushion the party from another blow.

Isn’t that the kind of leadership we want? I know it’s what I want. I know it’s how I’d behave. I’d rather make a stand, choose a side and stick with that position and risk losing a second term, or risk hurting “the party,” rather than make a choice that goes against my better judgment for the sake of political expediency.

Lest the left get too smug, let me remind them that they practice this same kind of expedient demagoguery as well. Fox News commentator Glenn Beck has incited the lefty version of righteous indignation by planning a rally on the Lincoln Memorial, 47years to the day of the Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream” speech. This, of course, cannot be, as the left paints Beck and his conservative followers as narrow-minded racists.

Says the Washington Post:
Beck's choice of day and place for the rally "is insulting, is what it is," Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in an interview Monday. "August 28 is something special. It is a day that means something in American history because it was the demonstration in the United States in support of civil rights."
Kinda sounds like the same kind of argument conservatives are using, as equally foolishly, against the mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. 9/11 made that holy ground. "I Have A Dream," and Aug. 28, are sarcosanct. Not so. And not so.

Those too close to either side of the argument can’t see it that way, however. Which is sad. And maddening. And, unfortunately, business as usual.

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