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So, you think Obama’s a pragmatist?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:30 pm - September 29, 2009.
Filed under: Blogging,Obamania

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.

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15 Comments

  1. He never was a pragmatist. It was always BS to call him a pragmatist.

    Comment by thestraightaussie — September 29, 2009 @ 5:41 pm - September 29, 2009

  2. I guess the new definition of a pragmatist is voting “Present” half a zillion times.

    However, maybe, pushing health care reform, but being purposefully incredibly vague on details, then shuffle the planning process to congress so they can take the blame if it comes up rotten, maybe that IS pragmatic.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — September 29, 2009 @ 7:23 pm - September 29, 2009

  3. He’s very pragmatic. As the world reels from the news of a huge new nuclear facility in Iran, The Won rushes off to Copenhagen to get the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. Too bad he can’t find time to talk to his own military commanders in Afganistan and Iraq, nor find the time to make the hard decisions that need to be made. When will the campaign end and The Won realize he has to govern? This man is exposing himself for the joke he always was.

    Comment by John in Dublin CA — September 29, 2009 @ 8:32 pm - September 29, 2009

  4. obamamania, obamacare and so on….

    he is just deceiver and he will lead young americans to even bigger war in afganistan and so on…

    Comment by propalica — September 29, 2009 @ 9:36 pm - September 29, 2009

  5. 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.

    For that matter, can you thin of ANYTHING he did besides occupy space? I mean other than pal around with terrorists, racists, homophobes, slum lords and a myriad of other characters from Mos Eisley Space Port?

    The White House. You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Except for the left side of the Capitol Building.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — September 29, 2009 @ 10:31 pm - September 29, 2009

  6. ^ +1 Team Scum and Villainy.

    Best wishes,
    -MFS

    Comment by MFS — September 29, 2009 @ 10:57 pm - September 29, 2009

  7. ‘would a pragmatist push legislation for a health care overhaul when the American people were increasingly turning against his proposals.’

    But that is just not true. LINK
    (for the full results – and yeah, you should study them LINK, a PDF

    Comment by Tano — September 30, 2009 @ 1:29 am - September 30, 2009

  8. “Instead, he has adopted a hands-off approach, outsourcing the deliberation to Democrats in Congress.”

    Also, just not true. As you well know, he has encouraged, and actually negotiated with the Gang of Six. He was quoted as saying that he would prefer a bill that gave him 80% of what he wanted, if it had bipartisan support, to one that gave him 100% of what he wanted but passed on party lines. He has never pushed all out for the public option (much less single payer) because he knows it is opposed by all Republicans – he has pretty much contented himself with trying to persuade rather than pushing it hard. So I think he is being very pragmatic on this issue.

    As to working with Republicans on other issues, I would point out to you that he has kept Bush’s Defense Secratary- his national security advisor was a Republican, and he reappointed Bush’s choice as Fed chairman – just to name a few off the top of my head.
    National security, defense, the fed – fer chrissakes he put Republicans in charge of three of the most important sectors of the American government.

    You are, not surprisingly, being totally unfair in your assessments. But you aren’t interested in the objective truth of the matter, you just want grist for your anti-Obama screeds. Just like the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress who don’t really give a damn about solving the health care problem in America, they just want to score political points by seeing Obama fail (and most Americans agree with me on that point – see poll linked in previous comment).

    Comment by Tano — September 30, 2009 @ 1:40 am - September 30, 2009

  9. Tano, once again, you attack only one point in the post and ignore its essence. First, this poll seems to be an outlier. Second, it asked about public support for health care reform, not for Obama’s proposed overhaul.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — September 30, 2009 @ 1:40 am - September 30, 2009

  10. Tano, so I see you now address my points in your comment #8. Unfair? Hardly. Address my points and show that I’m wrong. Provide examples of deals he brokered in his 12 years in the Illinois and US Senate. Provide examples of significant legislation he wrote with broad bipartisan support.

    Show me where he sat down with the Gang of Six and tried to hammer out a deal with them. Your 2nd ¶ doesn’t even address my points. You’re just saying what he support and what he’d like to see, not what he’s done.

    Examples of his accoplishments, please. After all, you’re the one who called him a pragmatist. Instead of attacking as per your last ¶ in #8, address the actual points I raised in the post to which you attached your comment. I provided questions on how you can do just that in this very comment.

    So, read this comment and answer the questions and don’t bring up extraneous (and/or irrelevant) points as is your won.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — September 30, 2009 @ 1:46 am - September 30, 2009

  11. And so the circus goes on.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — September 30, 2009 @ 2:17 am - September 30, 2009

  12. Uh, I can not begin to deal with the concept of Obama as pragmatist. In fact, I can not begin to deal with the whole metaphysical concept of pragmatism and neopragmatism. Now that I see that Tano is throwing the term around, I know it has no particularly useful meaning in normal discourse.

    Obama is a driven man. He is not honest, he is not open, he is not honorable, he is not forthright, he lacks humility and his work ethic stinks. What underlies such a man is not any form of philosophy that is studied in the great halls of learning. Obama is a deceitful opportunist driven by a largely hidden agenda. I do not know of any philosophical named model that applies to such a man.

    I would say Obama is an amoral narcissist with an abundance of chutzpah. The only name that comes to mind for that type of person is not found in philosophy: it is found the the slang dictionary as a common term for the anal sphincter.

    Comment by heliotrope — September 30, 2009 @ 8:01 am - September 30, 2009

  13. Of course we have polls and polls and studies too.

    Oh, and thank Bush for the vaccines, just to rub salt in the wound

    And even non-right oriented organizations Call the President out on his lies.
    “Despite what Obama said, the House bill would allow abortion to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans.”

    Comment by The_Livewire — September 30, 2009 @ 11:32 am - September 30, 2009

  14. Tano, the only poll you link to is done by Kaiser, which claims

    “The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, California,
    dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible analysis and information on health issues”

    But does not Kaiser also run a(n) HMO, so they have a vested interest, so to speak. Also this does not jive in the least with other polls, so I doubt it’s veracity.

    Comment by Andy — September 30, 2009 @ 1:59 pm - September 30, 2009

  15. Andy,

    Kaiser also owns Hosptials as well.

    Comment by The_Livewire — October 1, 2009 @ 7:11 am - October 1, 2009

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