'/> Uncommon Hours: But does Obama have an inner TR?
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

But does Obama have an inner TR?

In his column today, Frank Rich says the BP oil spill could be for the Obama presidency what Standard Oil was for Teddy Roosevelt's and kick off a new Progressive Era of trustbusting.

"This all adds up to a Teddy Roosevelt pivot-point for Obama," Rich writes, "who shares many of that president’s moral and intellectual convictions. But Obama can’t embrace his inner T.R. as long as he’s too in thrall to the supposed wisdom of the nation’s meritocracy, too willing to settle for incremental pragmatism as a goal, and too inhibited by the fine points of Washington policy debates to embrace bold words and bold action. If he is to wield the big stick of reform against BP and the other powerful interests that have ripped us off, he will have to tell the big story with no holds barred."

The question, however, is whether Obama really has an inner TR to channel. There's been no evidence in his presidency of a true progressive spirit. Just the opposite. He escalated the failed war in Afghanistan and then used the Nobel Peace Prize speech (of all things!) to rationalize that escalation, which perhaps revealed more about his convictions than a controlled and clearly staged hissy-fit about BP's new ad campaign. His announcement at West Point that more troops were going to Afghanistan might have been delivered by W himself.

The healthcare bill turned into a year-long effort to appease the Party of No. Obama unloaded the idea of universal healthcare, a mainstay of his campaign, quicker than an open jump shot. The debate started from the middle and moved ever-rightward.

And we hardly need reminding that Obama signed off on more offshore drilling just weeks before the Deepwater Horizon sank in the Gulf of Mexico, and doing so he gave the environmental movement, which somehow kept hope alive through the eight-year nightmare that preceded Obama and then helped elect him, the back of his hand with a memorable phrase: "the tired old arguments of the left and right." A true FOX moment--the false equivalency. Environmentalists are apparently no different to him than Palin, Limbaugh, and Cheney.

Unfortunately, Rich is looking for something that isn't there. Obama wants a purple nation not a progressive nation, which oddly is the color of oil on water when the light catches it just right.

No comments:

Post a Comment