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Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the Age of Obama “Skeptics should step up, not aside”

It hasn’t been that long ago that I considered myself a liberal idealist, even something of a Pollyanna. Nevertheless I’ve been stunned by the collective swoon of the Democratic Party and the media at the feet of Barack Obama – uninterrupted since the moment he announced his candidacy for the presidential office.

The media hype continues unabated in the aftermath of Obama’s undeniably pedestrian inaugural address, which is why the sobriety of Joan Venochi’s op-ed in the Boston Globe this morning is such a welcome relief.

In her response to Obama’s speech, Venochi explains the difference between cynics and skeptics:

“PRESIDENT OBAMA took time in his inaugural address to set up scapegoats for any future troubles: those annoying cynics.

‘“Addressing those "who question the scale of our ambitions," the new president said, "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them."

“He seems to overlook a key difference between cynics, who constantly question the sincerity of motives, and skeptics, who ask questions but can be persuaded by results.”

Venochi continues:

“Obama's election is welcome evidence of a dramatic ground-shifting in American politics. It is a chance to move the country forward after years of gridlock. Despite the hype, Obama isn't the Messiah, but he seems smart, serious, and focused enough to outline an ambitious agenda for change. He deserves a chance to implement it.

“In the meantime, it isn't wrong to ask for details, acknowledge obstacles, and raise tough but fair questions about the means of carrying out an agenda and the players who will do so.

“In fact, Americans should be questioning their leader more, not less, and the media should be leading the charge, not shrinking from the task.

“This country just witnessed what happens when it gives a president the benefit of the doubt at a time of crisis. It's too bad so many skeptics stepped aside after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, giving President Bush permission to launch a war on a premise that turned out to be false.

“The situation is even more complicated today, given the international fallout after the Bush years and the economic turmoil at home and abroad. At this time of crisis, skeptics should step up, not aside.”

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