When both the left and the right attack him viciously on healthcare reform, but when the right loves him and the left hates him for his Nobel Prize speech, it’s hard to know what to think about Barack Obama.
One thing he said in Oslo stood out for me:
…within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.
The realists: let’s call them Conservatives for the moment. How does the left-wing stereotype them? They narrowly pursue their own interests. Healthcare reform: they don’t want their hard-earned bootstraps used to pull anybody else up. Foreign policy: war is justified if it helps keep America exceptional.
The idealists: let’s call them Progressives for the moment. How does the right-wing stereotype them? Healthcare reform: they’re going to let big government decide what’s best for you. Foreign policy: they think all you need to do is let the eggheads negotiate with dictators.
What I think is that he’s smarter than all of us. He’s threading a needle. On healthcare reform, it’s between the interests of the rich (including the insurance and drug companies) and the needs of the majority. In foreign policy it’s between the “world as it is,” as he said, the evil that does exist in the world; and Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s “faith in human progress.”
“We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.”
Funny thing about Barack: he can hold two contradictory ideas in his head at once. It’s called synthesis.