“Change We Can Believe In”


My brother and I both want a certain candy bar, but he just won’t give it up. So, I tell him that I’ll do his chores for a week if he hands over the candy bar. I get the candy bar and he doesn’t have to do chores. It’s an entirely ethical win-win situation. Right?

There was a similar contest going on in Pennsylvania: incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter faced unprecedented competition leading up to the May 18 Democratic primary. Congressman Joe Sestak was on his tail all the way up to election day, on which he defeated the octogenarian.

Rep. Sestak confirmed, weeks ago, that the White House offered him an administration-level job, on the condition that he would drop out of the PA Democratic race. (He would give no specific details.) Pundits have alluded to this being an unethical and/ or sly move on the part of the Obama administration. I think, however, that if any type of move of this sort is carried out in the absence of law breaking, dishonesty, or some kind of irrefutable transgression, this is just your run-of-the-mill quid pro quo; it’s just like the candy bar swap. If Sestak was qualified for the admin job, then the move was just political and could ultimately have also been a win-win.

With all that said, Barack Obama spent two years campaigning on the platform of “change” and promised a break from “politics as usual

This is politics as usual. It may not be particularly devious or cunning, but it embodies the kind of politics (for better or for worse) that Obama claimed to have been so vehemently opposed to.

I extend to President Obama the same principles he extended to us, the American people, on the night of the South Carolina primary:

“We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington. It’s a status quo that extends beyond any particular party and right now that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got, with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face.”

You’ve got to work with what you’ve got. You’ve got to work on the problems. So, yes, President Obama, we appreciate that you do your job ethically.

But there’s always a little bit more you can do to ensure that we’re in good hands and that our government is focused on solutions, not opportunism.


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3 thoughts on ““Change We Can Believe In”

  1. As bright and committed as Obama is, he has not seemed able to deliver on his promise of change. In the campaign, his mantra was that we are not the red states and the blue states; we are the United States. What happened to that? If anything, he seems increasingly partisan. I happen to agree with his views, but I do not see him building coalitions and bridging that divide he so frequently decried.

    On another note, it seems to be a no brainer that he should be down in the Gulf, showing us that he cares — not standing in front of a golden curtain in the White House coolly assuring us that he’s in control. Americans need to see an engaged and active president. I agree with James Carville — he needs to get down there!

  2. I completely agree. Actually, ChisolmTrail, he’s been down there since yesterday, but he should have been there weeks ago. Besides being an ideal political move, it just seems like the right thing to do to exhibit OSTENSIBLE leadership.

    The election of Obama was supposed to bring an end to bitter partisanship. However, his election has only made the country grow more divided, congress more polarized. To fulfill his mantra, the politically right thing to do would have been to start off his presidency by trying to tackle issues of bipartisan importance– problems that both Democrats and Republicans would be compelled to solve. We have to acknowledge, of course, that just as Obama was being elected, the economy collapsed, the mortgage crisis intensified, and he was left with the sloppy seconds of eight years of policies that had backfired. Say what you will about the stimulus bill, but the economy would have digressed further had it not been passed. A that point, however, the first thing Obama should have done was taken on Republican pet issues…one’s that were either insignificant to Democrats, or that Democrats had the same point of view.

    That’s not possible anymore. Congress is so acrimoniously divided that the Republicans vote against Democratic proposals without reading them. There was a time where Washington was sort of in limbo– November 2008 through May-ish 2009– and that would have been the time to start up that”change.” And in addition to the Republicans, it doesn’t seem like Obama is particularly committed to building bridges–he seems almost more committed to burning them.

    • I agree to a very great extent. However, my feelings about the first several months in office for Obama is that he worked too hard in extending his hand to the Republicans while the nation was already in economic turmoil. Each time he did that, he got bitten. He went on and on doing that while I wondered why he just didn’t start playing hardball earlier for economic betterment and a real health insurance plan of change.

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