"If It Is Realism We Need"

Lawrence Lessig:

[I]f it is realism that we need, how about this for "realism": Fifteen months ago, America elected the most compellingly progressive president in fifty years. It also elected the largest Democratic majority in the House and Senate in more than a generation. Yet practically every major reform that this young president has promised is now stalled in Congress. [. . .] Loyalists, of course, blame all this on the crazy Republicans. [. . .] The defeats of the past year were not forced on this president by Republicans alone. [. . . MORE . . .]

Somehow this Administration forgot to "take up that fight." Somehow it has allowed the enemy to become the second largest political party in America (Republicans) rather than the single most vilified profession (lobbyists, just below lawyers and used car dealers). Somehow Obama has been convinced that his promise of bold leadership was a mistake. Somehow he has come to believe that realistic if puny ideas are the ways of transformational presidents like Reagan and FDR.

Yet somehow we have got to get this president to recognize that it was the "realism" of 2009 that was his mistake. What American democracy needs right now is leadership. It needs a President who shows us a way to restore our democracy. It needs the anger and impatience of the Republican Roosevelt (Teddy), railing against the corrupting influence of money in politics. It needs the strategic brilliance of the Democratic Roosevelt (Franklin), architecting the long and difficult campaign to, as Arnold Hiatt put it, "convince a reluctant nation to wage war to save democracy."

So I'm not against what the Democratic Leadership has proposed. Of course they should pass it. I am against believing that we should settle for these puny changes. For I believe that true "realism" shows that this is not enough -- not enough leadership, not enough change, and certainly not the kind of change that will make "change believable."

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    Huh? (5.00 / 12) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:47:27 AM EST
    to this: most compellingly progressive president in fifty years. Where is the evidence for that? Of course, I guess we get back to the real meaning of progressive: it means whatever you want it to mean.

    The administration never "forgot" to take up the fight. They never had it in them. Obama always has been and probably always will be a concillator. It is a character flaw that is unsuited for our times and cannot be fixed.

    Obama has not "somehow" allowed the GOP to become the second political party. It has actively encouraged it. Obama has spent months giving the GOP mouth to mouth recessitation.

    Obama doesnt have the qualities to become a "transformational" president. People like Lessing need to learn this fact and the sooner the better.

    We all yearn for leadership in the party but the sooner people accept that Obama isn't it the better everyone is going to be.

    I guess the bottom line is that Obama is the wrong person for our times and "hoping" that he will do the job is an exercise in futility IMO. Time is better spent getting better leadership in the house and senate.

    Only in some people's imagination (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by cal1942 on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 10:33:35 AM EST
    most compellingly progressive president in fifty years

    I also found this statement; out there.

    Again it was people filling in the blanks and engaging in wishful thinking. Apparently Lessig was in the same trap.


    This (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 10:56:35 AM EST
    This is what Obama ran on:

    people filling in the blanks and engaging in wishful thinking

    He ran on people's wishful thinking about him.


    It was never a secret, either (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 11:28:59 AM EST
    "Much of Obama's allure is that he is new and exciting enough to be a sort of blank canvas onto which activists of all kinds can paint their aspirations. Says Chris Lu, his legislative director, "He's like a Rorschach test--you see in him what you want."

    From the November 2006 Washingtonian

    That entire 2006 article is quite interesting.


    Doesn't matter if it's true; it's (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:50:05 AM EST
    good if people think it's true, and if that puts pressure on the WH.

    No, it's dangerous (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by esmense on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 02:34:25 PM EST
    Because his failures will be labeled progressive failures. The country can not afford to have progressive reform discredited without ever having been tried.

    That's the way to fascism.


    Well, I think Lessig was (none / 0) (#16)
    by observed on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 05:11:42 PM EST
    praising Obama like Antony praised Brutus.

    Well, okay then, 40 years. (none / 0) (#8)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 09:04:28 AM EST
    I don't think Obama is particularly progressive, but he ran on more progressive ideals than most Dems have since Johnson.

    Name one, please! (none / 0) (#14)
    by bridget on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 04:28:43 PM EST

    One single progressive ideal Obama had and actually fought for ... ok, let me think:

    The first thing out of his mouth was more war
    in Afghanistan. He got real excited about that and while in Germany during the Primaries told the Germans they had to get seriously involved.

    By now he sent at least 40 000 soldiers over there .... with plans to double that amount (this does not include the private mercenaries). Hardly progressive.

    And the second thing: he wants to sanction Iran. But good. Hoping that it will ruin the country like it did Iraq.
    Progressive? Hardly.

    He never cared about Healthcare. If his fans actually thought he did they didn't listen to him speechifying. And Social Security is also not safe under Prez Obama.I could go on and on.


    Leadership (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by lentinel on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:47:30 AM EST
    The potential for leadership is still with us.
    It will come from the people if it is to come at all.
    It appears as if public discontent and pressure is making the democrats pursue the public option after all. They are considering reconciliation which has always been available, but until now not even on the table.

    If things can be made to happen, I wouldn't even care if Obama puts himself at the head of the line and claims credit.

    Yeah, (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:49:35 AM EST
    that's the benefit of Obama being spineless. He'll sign whatever bill congress puts forward so it's best to put pressure on the reps to write a good bill.

    Only if it has at least one Republican vote (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 11:30:41 AM EST
    He'll sign whatever bill congress puts forward

    Too much credit. (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by lentinel on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:51:55 AM EST
    "Obama always has been and probably always will be a conciliator."

    I think you are giving him too much credit.

    He just seems to be someone who blows in the wind and doesn't have a clue where he's going until he gets there. Even then, he doesn't have a clue.

    Right, but this is how you work (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by observed on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:55:27 AM EST
    with an empty suit. This can work.

    lentinel, well said (none / 0) (#15)
    by bridget on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 04:31:38 PM EST
    that  just about sums him up IMHO

    Nicely written. (none / 0) (#3)
    by observed on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 06:49:17 AM EST
    That's how the left should treat this President.