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  • Wednesday, November 05, 2008


    I am the Bitterness Amid Celebration

    Perhaps the reality of Obama's win is unhinging me. I should be, if not jubilantly happy, at least satisfied with the outcome. Yet I remain somewhat gloomy about it.

    While everyone celebrates the milestone of Obama's win, I look at the things he probably will not do.

    Troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq with any speed.

    Troop levels in Afghanistan will probably be increased.

    While Obama has said he will pursue diplomacy more actively, I very much doubt that will significantly decrease U.S. military interventions over the next four years. I suspect that realpolitik will be a central consideration rather than compassionate or idealistic generosity.

    Whatever actions he takes on the economic front won't happen until after his inauguration. And whatever he does will probably take a long time to take effect.

    As I've said, Obama is inheriting a huge pile of problems from Bush: systemic de-regulation, ideological politicization of science, demoralization of career civil servants, etc. The list is extensive and Obama will be hard pressed just to correct the shambles left by the Bushies, much less advance a positive agenda.

    To be blunt, I haven't heard anything to lead me to believe Obama is anything but a centrist. While this is an enormously refreshing change from the extreme bellicose hard-heartedness of Bush, I remain unconvinced we will actually see substantive changes quickly in an Obama administration. I may be wrong. I hope I'm wrong.

    "But," you sputter, "This is a historic moment, a shining beacon of achievement that renounces racism in America and affirms the highest aspirations of our Constitution! We have shown that America has moved beyond racial divisions!"

    Uh-huh. That and US$3.50 will get you a latte. (For now.)

    Even with the "mandate" Obama received from a large majority of the voters, his path will be enormously hard. He's an excellent rhetorician, an eloquent speaker who clearly articulates the desires of many Americans but it's difficult to judge how effective he will be.

    However much I want Obama to succeed and accomplish a re-invigorated liberal agenda, he will be constrained by enormously powerful economic and political forces. I am certainly not pointing a finger at some vague free-floating racism but at the resistance of the system itself to change.

    I hope for change but my expectations are exceedingly low.

    If he doesn't accomplish some major items quickly, I strongly expect all that wonderful goodwill flowing from the electorate in these celebratory moments will turn to resentment.

    No one falls faster than a hero.

    I'm sorry if this all comes across as harsh or overly judgmental of a man who hasn't been President-elect for even 24 hours. I'm sorry to rain on this golden parade of optimism and bright visions of the future I see blooming everywhere. I'm sorry to cast doubt on accomplishments yet to come.

    My contrarian nature has emerged to spoil the party and I am sorry.

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