Monday, March 30, 2009

E.J. Dionne: The Calculated Vagueness of Obama’s Change You Can Believe In

Buried in E. J. Dionne’s op ed in today’s Washington Post is an admission the highly touted change Barack Obama persuaded millions to believe in during the primary was never defined. Like many once sober pundits with reasonably sound journalistic standards, Dionne’s heady infatuation with Obama caused him to stoop to whatever depraved tactic he thought it took to support the object of his affection and smear Hillary Clinton. Never mind questioning back then what it was that Obama was actually promising.

But read for yourself (emphases mine):

Voters in democracies have reasonably good intuitions as to what a political moment requires, and if there is a trend in democratic nations now, it is toward younger politicians who express disenchantment with the status quo, more by questioning past approaches than by offering fully worked-out alternative systems.

This was brought home last week when President Obama met with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia. Both are young. Both were elected with overwhelming support among voters under 30.

Both are mildly leftish and critical of the conservatism of the recent past, yet there was a calculated vagueness in the promises each of them made: In 2008, Obama pledged himself to change, while Rudd in 2007 promised "new leadership" and "fresh ideas." Neither Obama nor Rudd was pressed too hard to define the refreshing change each had in mind.


  1. Hi, Virginia. I haven't read the Dionne column, and I don't know much about Rudd, but I never forget that Hillary won more primary votes, was polling to beat McCain by a huge margin, and, though older than Obama—and delightfully specific in her commitments—was not rejected by the voters but booted out by the Party elders. And Obama and McCain were neck and neck till the financial crash. What it took to get O elected was close to a billion dollars in dubious donations and the adulation of opineers like Dionne. Who was it who didn't press too hard?

    gmanedit (a.k.a. g.)

  2. Hi G.

    Thanks for your comment. I wonder if I'll ever be able to get over the outrage I continue to feel at the way Hillary was treated by her own party. Sometimes I wish I could let it go, but then I read something that stirs it all up again.

  3. I don't think of it as "the way Hillary was treated," but the way we were treated. They stole my vote.

  4. You're right, of course, G. They did steal our votes, and we can't get them back. Thanks for pointing out the difference.