Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Activist Moderates Are Coming

Obama drops truth bomb, world is stunned...

One usually thinks of moderation as a form of denial, as for example when one denies oneself that extra sugar cube in the morning coffee.

But yesterday, at a retreat with House Republicans, President Obama modeled a new kind of moderation, activist moderation. He spoke a bit, then had a question-and-answer session. All this was televised nationally. The Q and A session was so stunning that MSNBC promptly dropped their evening news shows to do a long special on it, which they then repeated. Question by question, something not recently seen on TV had unfolded before their eyes.

Continental classroom. Ask Mr. President!

Proving for professional doubters that he can think on his feet without a teleprompter, fielding all questions with warm grace, Obama showed what a deliberative discussion can be. The teacher was ready for their questions. He proved that he listens. He came prepped, as a good teacher should be. He was at the top of his form.

Presented with contrived falsities, he broke them to the core, politely, with all due respect. When facts were omitted to prove a point, he had the facts that contradicted it.

He pointed out again and again how Republicans who assert conspiracy theories box themselves into a null space that separates them from their constituents. One-upmanship in regressive policy leads out onto a plank over water. As the ship sways. In the sun. He basically invited them to come in off the plank.

He pointed to Republican roots in the current health care bill, both in ideas that came from them in the days of the Clinton health care bill and in ideas taken from their current proposals. Obama showed the group that their claim that their ideas were excluded from the process was false.

He welcomed them into collegial discussion. In doing so, he constructed a space where this can continually happen. Because next month, it will likely be the Progressives' turn and then the Republicans' turn again. Dare they hide?

This is very helpful for Republicans. Having been in control for so long, many of them have forgotten how to advise. Here they were advising. Their advice was heard and considered, their questions were answered. Their television exposure was vast, if occasionally embarrassing. They were real for a moment. In the light.

President Obama was born in the day when the civil rights struggle was called the "Integration Movement". He is an integrator. He has just constructed integrative space. Well-lighted integrative space.

While he may be passive as a progressive and so need activist progressives to put wind in his sails, as a moderate he is an activist. A super-wonk moderate activist. A teacher waiting for a class.

A new era has begun, a cycle of rational humanism, reality over rhetoric, and data over delusion. Light of a new day.

Let the sunshine in.

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