Every now and again, I’ll say something in a comment which, on further reflection, I believe, deserves greater prominence on this blog. Such was my remark to a critic’s point that during the 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination:
Hillary was very much seen as the real liberal by her followers, with Obama as the pragmatist rather than the ideologue
An interesting comment to offer about a woman who, despite her shrill rhetoric as First Lady, earned the respect and forged working relationships with Republicans in the course of her tenure in the United States Senate. And I can’t think of any partnerships the Illinois Democrat formed with Republican that led to the enactment of significant reforms during his tenure in that legislative body. Such is what pragmatists do (work with partisan rivals to craft major legislation). Indeed, his voting record was to the left even of Mrs. Clinton.
A pragmatist would have a record of brokering deals between the parties and would have a voting record, if not to the center of the Senate as a whole, at least to that of his partisan caucus. Barack Obama didn’t even have much of a record of forging compromises during his eight years in the Illinois Senate.
Were he truly a pragmatist, right now, he would be sitting down today with partisans on both sides of the health care debate, trying to forge a compromise palatable to the various interests. Instead, he has adopted a hands-off approach, outsourcing the deliberation to Democrats in Congress. Which brings me to the comment I made which, I believe, deserves greater attention:
. . . to call Obama a pragmatist is to rely on his campaign rhetoric as a source of information [while ignoring] his voting record in the [Illinois and United States] Senate and his actions as President.
UPDATE: One more thing, would a pragmatist push legislation for a health care overhaul when the American people were increasingly turning against his proposals.