Monday, January 26, 2009

The Vision Thing

Over the weekend, I read this piece by Jacob Weisberg on Slate. In it, he describes how Obama's inauguration speech didn't tell us what Obama thinks government should do other than work. Work towards what, Weisberg wants to know. My husband says this is carping. Me, I'm a little on the fence.

Obama is famously opaque on ideology. He's all pragmatism all the time. If you're a liberal, it's a good time to be pragmatic because thirty years of conservative theories put into practice have proven to be failures. And yet, would an explicit operating philosophy other than "Change" and "Yes We Did" be bad? Writing this I realize it might be because it would give people itching to know better and nay-say something to oppose for no reason other than they can. But at the same time, would it be good, so people can understand the scope in which Obama is operating?

In this Talk of the Town, Nicholas Lemann aruges that to be great, a president has to make something. It goes hand-in-glove to Weisberg's piece. We need stuff made; to make things, you need to imagine them. But do you, as President, need to tell everyone what you imagine making the very first day you're in office? Maybe not. Maybe my husband is right. Maybe not telling is a brilliant political move by our new president. Only time will tell. After all, he's not yet been in office a week and we know that Guantanimo will close, emissions standards will go up, and he told Repulicans who balked at the stimulus, "I won." Maybe the guy does have a plan.

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