Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Shopping Cart with the Shaky Wheel Theorem: Is It Just Me, or Does President Obama Seem to Be Veering a Bit to the Right?

Since President Obama assumed the presidency, he seems to be doing a credible job.  He got off to a shaky start, mind you, but since his early mis-steps and mis-calculations, he has come into his own.  I do believe, however, that his early mis-steps and mis-calculations may have given the GOP a foot in the door in the mid-term elections that they might not have otherwise.

But the president does have a certain predilection that I find curious, that I cannot quite figure out.  Let’s see if I can explain it with this analogy.

Have you ever gone to the supermarket and gotten that grocery cart with the shaky wheel?  You know the one.  No matter how hard you try to prevent it, the cart keeps veering in one direction.  Sometimes it’s simply a minor annoyance, but at other times, it bgecomess so utterly aggravating that you just leave the cart there in the aisle in the middle of the store and stamp back to the front to get another cart.

That’s how President Obama’s presidency appears at times.  It seems that despite the direction we would like him to go, he keeps seemingly veering right. 

Take for instance his nomination of Harvard legal scholar Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.  Admittedly, I know very little about Kagan, but that’s just it.  No one seems to know much about Kagan.  Since she has never been a sitting judge, she has no important rulings that we might have to examine. 

And despite her being a long time legal scholar, it appears she has produced very little in the way of scholarly writing that we might examine to determine her legal inclinations.  Besides that, her record of hiring minorities while serving as the dean of the Harvard’s law school leaves a lot to be desired. 

She’s basically an unknown quantity;  we have no idea what we are getting , so we cannot be positively sure it’s what we really want, if she’s really the change we voted for. 

And in addition to Kagan’s nomination, the evidence of President Obama’s tendency to veer right abounds.  When he assumed office, he kept many of his predecessor’s policies in place much to our chagrin.  And in putting together the HCR package, he seemed to stack concession to the demands of the right on top of concession even when it became apparent that the right just might not be negotiating in good faith.

When we throw in his reluctance to do away with DADT once and for all, his Bush-lite like policies toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his plans to expand offshore drilling, and numerous other lingering glances to the right, you just have to stop and wonder.

Perhaps it is simply a case of political exigency.  Certainly, Kagan’s nomination might be considered to be a shrewd move;  the paucity of information to sift through gives the GOP little ammunition in attacking her which, of course, we know they’ll do anyway no matter who the nominee might have been.

And in the uber-contentious, partisan climate of today’s Washington, such forays rightward might be necessary in order to gain political traction.  And keep in mind that to win elections, to remain in favor, President Obama must appeal to moderates and Independents. 

It is the base from which you receive your support, your energy;  however, no national politician can win without the votes of moderates and Independents.  It’s always a precarious balancing act, placating your base while maintaining the support of moderates and Independents.

And if this is the case, I do understand.  After all, the game’s chess not checkers.  But again I believe President Obama to be doing a great job.  I’m not being critical just for the sake of being critical.  I just wish that every once in a while, he would give just a nod and a wink to those of us who are just a bit left of center.

Do you think that President Obama has a tendency to veer left?  If so, what do you think of this?  Is it simply a case of political necessity?
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