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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do President Thinker's Flip-Flops Fit?

When the NY Times takes Obama to task, I am always a little suspicious. Will this be a "he's not perfect, but at least he's not Bush" type of critique; a compliment disguised as a criticism.

So I don't know what to make of this piece in today's paper. Noting that Obama's detainee policy looks nothing like his campaign promises and more like the Bush strategy, the author went on:

He told Planned Parenthood that his first act as president would be to sign an abortion rights bill into law; now he says it is “not my highest legislative priority.” He promised gay rights advocates that he would work for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but he has pushed action into the future. A proponent of transparency, he released previously classified memos describing the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation techniques. But then he moved to block the release of photos showing abuse of detainees — a 180-degree turn from his administration’s previous position....

And that raises a question: at what point is President Thinker in danger of being perceived as President Flip-Flop?

Notice the presumption that Obama is President Thinker, whereas the flip-flops are a matter of perception. I think I was right to be suspicious.

But what about the epithets President Thinker v. President Flip-Flop? I'm not sure there is such a contrast. Perhaps Obama has changed some of his campaign positions because he did not think them out properly, so he never was really President Thinker. Or perhaps he hasn't changed, but merely is compromising on some issues to avoid conflicts which would distract from his economic agenda to remake America, in which case he never was really President Flip-Flop.

Maybe, just maybe, President Thinker and President Flip-Flop really are just President Politician. Which is something the Times hasn't considered.

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  1. The two...Pres. Thinker and Pres. Flop...are readily reconciled if you frame them in Alinski's mandate; power is what matters.

  2. What's weird about the Times is that I'm always reading it thinking: ok, what are they getting at now? Rather than thinking, say, ok, what is the news? The Times' agenda *is* the story, and it's a story most people don't want to hear. I think I give them credit at being wilier than they are, if they were smarter they wouldn't be tanking. Professor Jacobson, to respond to your question, I think you're approaching their text too seriously and intelligently, I think it was either some attempt to appear impartial or to satisfy the dozen ultra-left Baby Boomer hippie-crones who read them.