Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Don’t Get “Change” Unless You Hit the Shot!

For those unfamiliar with the title reference, it’s the practice of returning a basketball to the shooter (change) after he or she makes a shot during warm-ups. In light of Barack Obama’s predilection for hoops, I bring this up now, and I’ll return to it in a moment.

First, I’ll point to Jane Hamsher’s post, which presents the optimistic view of the idea I want to discuss. She points out that, despite a lack of progressive voices among the team Obama is putting together, if he is able to work with them to deliver the things he promised during his campaign (health care reform, alternative energy programs, troops out of Iraq, closing Gitmo, etc.), even progressives should be happy!

Next, I’ll admit right up front that I understand Barack Obama is many times smarter than I am, and has a much better temperament for the job of Potus. His choices during the long presidential campaign have proven, again and again, to be brilliant and forward thinking, so I am hardly in the position to legitimately criticize anything he does.

At the same time, after watching his tacit enabling of Joe Lieberman’s ability to work against change with no significant consequence; and now his seemingly imminent selection of the relatively conservative and hawkish Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, I find my sense of the Obama “honeymoon period” starting to wane.

Immediately after his election, I was mentally prepared to stick with Obama, despite any setbacks, throughout a long slow march toward change. Now, with these latest moves, I can’t help but notice an attitudinal shift where I find myself thinking:
“OK smart guy, it’s time to put up or shut up! Show me you’ve got game, or quit with the “trash talk” about bringing change!”
Frankly, as hard as we all worked to elect Obama as president, I’m thinking that it will be particularly disconcerting if we end up having to spend his entire first term seeing Joe Lieberman be one of the only beneficiaries of an administration that Lieberman fought his hardest to keep out of office!

Frankly, it will be upsetting if the people who donated to Obama, made calls, and knocked on doors for him, don’t see a return; while Hillary Clinton, who tried to cast him as a Muslim terrorist and an “empty suit” during the primaries, gets to pad her foreign policy credentials for a future presidential run in 2016.

Frankly, if this is all that change ends up looking like, I’m not sure I’m down with it!

On the other hand, I guess it really comes down to whether Obama can back up the confidence he shows when he enables a former foe like Lieberman to head the committee that can hound him during his efforts to change our approach to national security, or when he chooses a former foe like Clinton to be the face of his administration throughout the world.

Returning to the basketball analogy, it feels as if Obama just called “glass” right before he takes the most important shot in the history of our country.

If he makes it, he gets "change" and everyone is happy!

If he misses it, he looks like he blew the shot for the whole team, just because he was cocky!

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