Obama and Harry Truman

by A. G. Moore
8/13/2012
In August of 2011 I wrote about how Obama saw himself as Lincolnesque when in fact he might be a more effective leader if he modeled himself after Harry Truman. While Lincoln presided over a nation which was threatened existentially, Truman managed a political dynamic which was defined by ideological intransigence. Lincoln faced a physical rupture, actual war. Truman faced a do-nothing Congress which had dug in its heals in a display of partisan consistency.

Well, Obama is no Lincoln but he may yet be a Harry Truman. In May of this year, E. J. Dionne wrote in the Herald News:For Truman, tying the “do-nothing” Republican Congress around Dewey’s (’48 Republican candidate) neck was essential to reminding the many New Dealers in the electorate of the identity of FDR’s true heir.” In other words, an apparently centrist Romney (Dewey in ’48) is more likely defeated if progressives can be persuaded that he would bring to the White House an extreme right-wing Republican agenda. Until this weekend, that would not have been an easy trick for Obama to pull off. Now, though, the selection of Paul Ryan has added clarity to the contrast between an Obama administration and the potential ideological color of a Romney administration.

I am one of those progressives who believes that Obama has governed from a neocon right-of-center perspective. This is so disappointing that it’s hard to contemplate the 2012 election. However, Mitt Romney has made my choice a little more clear. While I find the policies of both presidential candidates offensive (Obama’s abandonment of universal health coverage, for example, and his aggressive domestic surveillance agenda, for another example), the selection of Ryan is like a traffic signal telling me I cannot go in one direction. Romney’s Vice Presidential selection absolves me, in a way, from making a choice which really is not choice. I do not want Obama and his corporatist, militarist, civilly violative policies. On the other hand, I cannot allow the medicare-gutting, middle class eviscerating, religiously and socially intolerant right-wing faction of the Republican party to gain control of the executive branch of government.

I know, I know, what has Obama done.

Well, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone. The Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed. Health and Human Services is extending the healthcare law to cover reproductive rights. Rapacious private colleges and a bankrupting student loan system are being addressed. This is just a sampling of domestic policies that would certainly be different under a Romney/Ryan administration.

These issues matter to me, and if I have to hold my nose to advance a progressive agenda (or at least not a regressive agenda) on select domestic issues, then I can do that. I may have to vote for a candidate and a party that offends me. It’s not the first unpleasant thing I’ve done in my life.

Resources:

Wikipedia: U. S. Presidential Election of 1948
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_
presidential_election,_1948

Daily Kos:… Obama Campaigns Against Do-Nothing Congress…
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/13/1119649/-President-Obama-Campaigns-A gainst-Do-Nothing-Congress-Standing-In-the-Way-Of-People-s-Needs

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