Monday, November 10, 2008

There is More Than One American Dream: Envisioning a Knowledge-Based Presidency

After the cheering, after the tears, and the euphoria, and the possible baby boomlet resulting from the sheer joy of this victory of rationalism and progress after 8 years of chaos in the executive office, and the decades of the political ascendancy of extremism on the right and neo-conservative hegemony, we are still at a remarkably dangerous time in our history. The GOP and its extremist ideology has pushed the pendulum as far as they could to the right, and now we are in a phase of counter-swing, that seems so essential. It's not just politics. Based on the Fox News story about "W's comments on the first Obama-Bush meeting when the 44th President was still a freshman, incoming senator, it is clear that 43 was not operating from a place of pragmatism and humanism. And it sounds more and more that he was not functioning with, as they say, "a clear head." Despite all of the chaos created by the GOP free market obsessed free-booters, there are calls for the incoming President to govern from the center. We need progress, creativity, intelligence, combined with thoughtful, pragmatic, managerial and technology-based vision.

The time for "let it all hang out, let's see what happens, political action," as witnessed in Iraq, in New Orleans during Katrina, and on Wall Street is now over. The Founders established separation of church and state, balance of power, checks and balances at the root of this democracy. America cannot function with only a private sector, just as it cannot function with only a public sector. The past 8 years has proven the importance of a strong, rational government through its absence. But the forces of greed and ignorance will still be clamoring for a return to power.

Nicholas Kristof on the importance of intelligence (the brainy kind) in the White House:
Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.


Full Article here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/opinion/09kristof.html?em=&pagewanted=print

Frank Rich on What It All Means:
It Still Felt Good the Morning After
By FRANK RICH
ON the morning after a black man won the White House, America’s tears of catharsis gave way to unadulterated joy.

Our nation was still in the same ditch it had been the day before, but the atmosphere was giddy. We felt good not only because we had breached a racial barrier as old as the Republic. Dawn also brought the realization that we were at last emerging from an abusive relationship with our country’s 21st-century leaders. The festive scenes of liberation that Dick Cheney had once imagined for Iraq were finally taking place — in cities all over America.

For eight years, we’ve been told by those in power that we are small, bigoted and stupid — easily divided and easily frightened. This was the toxic catechism of Bush-Rove politics. It was the soiled banner picked up by the sad McCain campaign, and it was often abetted by an amen corner in the dominant news media. We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included. If I had a dollar for every Democrat who told me there was no way that Americans would ever turn against the war in Iraq or definitively reject Bush governance or elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president, I could almost start to recoup my 401(k). Few wanted to take yes for an answer.

So let’s be blunt. Almost every assumption about America that was taken as a given by our political culture on Tuesday morning was proved wrong by Tuesday night.


Full article here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/opinion/09rich.html?_r=1&em=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

Thomas Friedman on the True Test of Support for the 44th President:

But I wouldn’t exaggerate it. The minute Obama has to exercise U.S. military power somewhere in the world, you can be sure that he will get blowback. For now, though, his biography, demeanor and willingness to at least test a regime like Iran’s with diplomacy makes him more difficult to demonize than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

“If you’re a hard-liner in Tehran, a U.S. president who wants to talk to you presents more of a quandary than a U.S. president who wants to confront you,” remarked Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “How are you going to implore crowds to chant ‘Death to Barack Hussein Obama’? That sounds more like the chant of the oppressor, not the victim. Obama just doesn’t fit the radical Islamist narrative of a racist, blood-thirsty America, which is bent on oppressing Muslims worldwide. There’s a cognitive dissonance. It’s like Hollywood casting Sidney Poitier to play Charles Manson. It just doesn’t fit.”

But while the world appears poised to give Obama a generous honeymoon, there lurks a much more important question: How long of a honeymoon will Obama give the world?

To all those Europeans, Canadians, Japanese, Russians, Iranians, Chinese, Indians, Africans and Latin Americans who are e-mailing their American friends about their joy at having “America back,” now that Obama is in, I just have one thing to say: “Show me the money!”

Don’t just show me the love. Don’t just give me the smiles. Your love is fickle and, as I said, it will last about as long as the first Obama airstrike against an Al Qaeda position in Pakistan. No, no, no, show me the money. Show me that you are ready to be Obama stakeholders, not free-riders — stakeholders in what will be expensive and difficult initiatives by the Obama administration to keep the world stable and free at a time when we have fewer resources.


Full article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/opinion/09friedman.html?em=&pagewanted=print

Building the Progressive Future on the Fierce Urgency of Now:
Karl Rove, who has not gotten enough credit for political strategies that helped make Democrats’ landslide victories in 2006 and 2008 possible, had a telling line last night on FOX News. While he was announcing that Obama had won Virginia, and was well on his way to a landslide, Bush’s campaign chief insisted that the United States remained a “center-right” nation.
Until last night. After winning control of the House and Senate in 2006, Democrats in 2008 greatly added to their numbers and also won the White House.

Why would a center-right nation not only reaffirm the allegedly left-wing leadership of Pelosi and Reid, but then expand their power by giving a landslide to Barack Obama?

After nearly forty years of an ascending conservative political movement, it is understandable that Rove and many pundits are now in deep denial. But the voters are demanding progressive change, and it is incumbent upon all those who made phone calls and/or traveled to other states to take a break, get refreshed and then plunge back into transforming a victory at the polls into policies and programs that set the nation on a new course.

Rove is not the first to make this point in recent weeks..

Full article here:
http://www.progressivefuture.org/blog

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