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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/15/09

Questioning Obama's Strategy Against Evil: A Missed Opportunity?

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In the sense I then had of the political-spiritual terrain, PERHAPS had Obama been bolder from the outset, he could have harnessed an enormous pent-up moral force to right the many wrongs he faced.

Without any vituperativeness of spirit, he could have publicly announced that, in accordance with his oath of office, he'd instructed his Justice Department to prosecute whatever crimes had been committed.

Likewise PERHAPS he could have tackled the financial crisis with a firmer and more righteous hand, and less friendly solicitousness to the financial actors and system that had played fast and loose with the public welfare.

I don't really KNOW what would have happened if Obama had proceeded in such ways, cultivating the image of pure moral righteousness.  (In subsequent postings, I'll explore some of these uncertainties.)

But I do know that the course he has taken has its costs in these terms of his moral stature and the power of his moral message.  
Obama has muddied the moral waters, and that forfeits a potentially potent sort of political power.  

The most important of these costs is not the loss of support of people on the left who were always at best skeptical of him.  The important costs have to do with the missed opportunity to create moral clarity for a nation that has shown itself susceptible to manipulation and deception on the question of what is good and what is evil, and thus to INSPIRE the public to engage in the necessary raising up of the country.

With his various evasions of confrontation with evil, and entanglements of his policies with those of the Bushites, Obama has made it much more difficult for Americans to gain or maintain clarity about the fundamental nature of the conflict here-- that between good and evil.

With his careful political calculations, Obama has diminished himself.  With the opportunity to magnify himself into an almost archetypal figure of the righteous agent of moral cleansing, Obama has chosen instead to reduce himself to the smaller role of the good and clever politician.

Have the gains been worth that cost?  Does his clever positioning against potential dangers outweigh the loss involved in diminishing his stature by forfeiting the power of purity?

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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