For many, I know, my taking as my premise that Obama is committed to the Good just demonstrates that all the rest of my argument will be built on a falsehood.
That's particularly true for some on the left who believe one need only see that a political actor's actions have deviated from the path of purity and nobility in order to judge that politician to be corrupt.
I'm thinking of the kind of person who not only voted for Ralph Nader for President in the 2000 election but also continues to believe that they chose rightly how to use their vote, that it was right for Nader to run as he did, that the other one or two percent of the electorate who voted for Nader also did the right thing, even though the net effect of all those "right" choices was to subject America and the world to eight years of dark Bushite rule.
They are people, in other words, who judge the right in terms of moral purity and who don't (or can't) measure things in terms of what actually changes the world for the better or the worse.
That's not how I look at how goodness and rightness are to be assessed in the political realm (and it is clear that's not Obama's perspective either).
The question of Obama's goodness arises, of course, because of some of the ways he's dealing --or refusing to deal with-- the legacy of Bushite evils that he's inherited. To put one piece of it simply: crimes have been committed, and Obama does not seem eager to prosecute them.
If that is not, as I say, any proof against his basic commitment to the Good, neither does demonstrate it.
Yet I maintain a conviction that Obama is as committed to the Good and the right and the just as any of us. This assessment of Obama is not something I'm eager to expend my energy in substantiating with a careful and reasoned argument well-documented with evidence.
It is my conviction because it is something I feel I have SEEN. Just as one can see someone's build and facial features, sometimes one can SEE his character. Watching Obama carefully for a year and a half, and reading his writings, I feel he's one of those whose character was rendered visible to me.
Many other people, I know, have seen the same thing in the man.
For those who have not seen it, and who believe that those who believe they have seen it have been duped by just another clever politician who sought political power for his own purposes and wields it in corrupt ways, I will confine myself to asking one simple question:
How would a man so corrupt as that as to use the powers of the presidency for purposes contrary to the public good come to have a family like the one we've seen? (Not, by the way, that this is the main basis for my own convictions about his character-- but it has the advantage of by-passing the issue of politics and a moral calculus based on consequences.)
What one sees there –between Obama and his wife, and between both of them and the children—something that one could not fake. What we see is something well beyond the politician’s usual happy-looking family smiling into the cameras. We see into the love that’s really there among them.
I can imagine that some do not see this. I can imagine further that even some who do will claim that it proves nothing: between how a man is with his family, and how he acts in the world, a great gulf can exist.
Maybe. But I do not believe that the man we see in that family, the man who helped build that family, would be the kind to use the powers of the presidency in ways corrupt and self-serving at the expense of the greater good.
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