What does Barack Obama really want? Of course I don’t know. I am at the far fringes of political information, an inconsequential foot soldier who might be marginally useful in getting out the vote but by no stretch of the imagination am I “in the know.” So, I don’t even bother to read the “personal” email messages from Democratic celebrities that choke my in-basket every morning. I have learned they will all end up being no more than a plea for a few more of my paltry dollars.
But when the time comes, I force my aging body up flights of stairs to beg for pro-Obama votes.
Also, as you know, I sometimes write blogs that favor the president.
At first I was captivated by the romance of electing America’s first black president. And I was charmed by his reasonable persona, which contrasted so sharply with his opponents’ belligerence.
Later, as the political debate raged on, I came to fear his opponents. I became all too sharply aware that their policies were anathema to me, that if they were in power I would be in deep trouble.
But there’s more to it than that. I am deeply, irrevocably opposed to the conservative agenda on purely ideological grounds.
Is Barack Obama my standard bearer? Does he carry the torch passed down by the Kennedy clan, FDR (and our darling Eleanor), and, of course, that flawed but – in retrospect – benevolent Lyndon Johnson?
Does he bleed for our wounds, weep for our pain, strive for our welfare and protection?
Or is he in it for the glory? Is his goal as America’s first black president to leave a unique legacy?
It could be both, of course. Or neither. He might just be doing as good a job as he can in a remarkably difficult time.
His policies do not make his motives clear.
In a powerfully reasoned and brilliantly written column today, Salon.com editor Joan Walsh examines the president’s approach to Social Security and wonders:
Does the president’s legacy require chipping away at LBJ’s’, or building on it?
Ms. Walsh says she believes:
Obama still wants some kind of “grand bargain,” and why shouldn’t he? Not only for glory, but to leave our social welfare state broader – as he did with the Affordable Care Act — and more stable than he found it. It’s an admirable impulse; the question is how far he’ll go and exactly what he’ll do to achieve it.
Peeling away the layers of politics surrounding the concept of that “grand bargain,” Ms. Walsh observes that such a deal would help pave the way for Vice President Joe Biden’s election as president when Obama’s second term expires.
I must admit it never crossed my mind that the fate of the “Great Society,” for which Democrats have battled over so many years, might hinge so critically on the personal goals of a pair of politicians. But then what do I know?
Photos above show the iconic Hope poster (left) and the president with Vice President Biden.