Posted on Wednesday 29 October 2008

In modern business-ese, there are lots of terms people throw around in their business plans – terms like Vision and Mission. Sometimes, it’s baloney, words to fill a page. But sometimes, those words have meaning.  Watching the Obama 30 minute show tonight, I thought of those words. Barack Obama does have a Vision of where he wants us to go and how he wants us to get there.  It’s part of his mystique. When he talks, or answers questions, he’s rarely at a loss for words. When he’s asked about Abortion, he says something like, "Nobody is for abortion, but we need to have an empathy for the young girl who has gotten pregnant and …" He always seems to be talking from a plan, so his answers have a basis. When he talks about tax cuts, he’s specific – cuts for the middle and even upper middle classes, increased taxes for the very wealthy. When McCain says "Senator Obama is going to raise your taxes," he’s only talking to the very wealthy – the people who got off scott free with the Bush tax-cuts. Time after time, Obama answers confrontive questions with clear direct answers because he has a Vision with specifics in his mind. He knows where he wants to take us. Even better, he knows where we want to go – if "we" means the majority of Americans.

McCain tries to paint him as a socialist, a moslem, a terrorist, a super-liberal, inexperienced, naive, almost any negative adjective in the dictionary. But none of those things stick with anyone who listens to what Obama says, because Obama is none of those things. Barack Obama is a natural-born Pragmatist:
    Pragmatists consider practical consequences or real effects to be vital components of both meaning and truth.
There are lots of lofty philosophical things written about Pragmatism, but here’s the simple version. For a pragmatist, theory and ideology are never separable from actual action. A pragmatist looks at what needs doing and figures out how to get it done. There is no theory and ideology driving things. If anything, the things drive the ideology. If you listen to McCain, or Bush, or Cheney, they reach into their neoconservative ideological framework book and decide what to do based on what it tells them. So, we are attacked by al Qaeda, and they go to war with Iraq – which makes not one bit of sense if you haven’t read their idiosyncratic playbook [and then, by the way, it still doesn’t make one bit of sense]. When Congress passes a bill, they look in their Unitary Executive Theory book, and add a Signing Statement to invalidate anything they don’t like. In contrast, Obama is a master at framing a problem, then looking for a solution. And he’s good at anticipating unintended consequences. Were he a football coach, we’d say that he stays "close to the game."

There’s a lot Obama wants to do. I’m guessing that he’ll actually do a lot more of it than we would suspect possible if he’s given a chance. Bush and Cheney have left him very little to work with, and have screwed up a lot of things beyond recognition. So, he has a hard road ahead, but with any kind of support, I think he’s up to the task. He’s sure a lot closer than anyone else in my field of vision. I felt proud when I watched that program. I haven’t felt proud in a very long time. I’d love the chance to feel it for the next four years…

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.