Great Expectations

Bob Herbert uses his latest column, "Lurching With Abandon," to obliquely chasten Obama for the expectations he created by branding himself the candidate of hope and change, and for now failing to live up to them, by playing the same, old, triangulating game:
Only an idiot would think or hope that a politician going through the crucible of a presidential campaign could hold fast to every position, steer clear of the stumbling blocks of nuance and never make a mistake. But Barack Obama went out of his way to create the impression that he was a new kind of political leader — more honest, less cynical and less relentlessly calculating than most.

…This is why so many of Senator Obama's strongest supporters are uneasy, upset, dismayed and even angry at the candidate who is now emerging in the bright light of summer.

…He seems to believe that his shifts and twists and clever panders — as opposed to bold, principled leadership on important matters — will entice large numbers of independent and conservative voters to climb off the fence and run into his yard.

Maybe. But that's a very dangerous game for a man who first turned voters on by presenting himself as someone who was different, who wouldn't engage in the terminal emptiness of politics as usual.
Indeed. Disappointment is par for the course in electoral politics, which makes it pretty easy to overcome; disillusionment, on the other hand…well, that makes for people who are hard to win back. Which is why it's always a risky proposition to run a faith-based campaign appealing to idealists.

I said before that I didn't like the "hope and change" rhetoric because it unintentionally suggests we can walk away from our immediate history, but there was another reason it stuck in my craw, too: It has a very bitter taste indeed once it goes sour with irony.

[H/T to Shaker BGK.]


As an aside, I really hope, more than I can say, that Obama turns it around. I don't know how he's going to, and I've got no suggestions—short of a speech to the effect that he feels like he's been compromising, doesn't like it, and is essentially calling a do-over, followed by a renunciation of his shiny new positions on late-term abortion, FBOs, FISA, welfare reform, the SCOTUS decisions on handgun law and death penalty for child rapists, and possibly some shit I'm forgetting. (That would be an awesome speech, btw.) Short of that, I got nuttin'.

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