Compassionate Moderatism

by phil on Wednesday Apr 15, 2009 3:04 AM

The end of Obama's first 100 days is coming up in two weeks, and all the commentators are going to rush to define Obama's philosophy. Here's my take: I hereby define Obamaism as "Compassionate Moderatism."

This idea is in response to this prompt by George Packer in The New Yorker:

Obama's signature projects defy grouping under a single heading, and, as a result, he has been criticized for inconsistency.

But what George Packer follows with is a telling description of Obamaism:
To take one example, he forced the chief executive of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, into early retirement, and yet he has not called for the removal of any of the failed leaders of America's financial institutions, like Bank of America's Kenneth Lewis. He promised a federal guarantee of warranties for owners of G.M. and Chrysler cars, but he won't put the government in temporary control of the banks, which are at the heart of the economic crisis. He is willing to spend $275 billion for homeowners' relief, but he won't let the government enter into the business of making direct loans. He has made health-care reform the ultimate test of his first year, but seems prepared to compromise on significant aspects of the legislation.

If this is Obamaism, then I like it. To me, his behavior looks neither unprincipled nor inconsistent, but rather, creative. It shows that Obama's greatest strength is compromise and flexibility. He's given both the left and the right "tough love" in order to move the country forward. The fact that he's gotten so much done in so little time gives me hope for rest of his term(s).

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