Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Obama on Letterman

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I was a huge supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign last year, both in the Democratic primary and then against McCain, and I continue to be a huge supporter. This does not mean, however, that I am not critical, that I am a thoughtful, knee-jerk cheerleader.

I have, for example, been critical of his continuation of certain Bush-era national security policies.

I have been critical of his do-little approach to gay rights, including with respect to DADT (don't ask, don't tell), a loathsome policy that remains in place at the Pentagon.

I have also been critical of his policy on the Afghan War, or, rather, of his non-policy. The outlines are there, but he has yet to provide a cogent rationale not just for remaining in Afghanistan but for escalating the war there with a significant troop increase, to which I am, for the most part, opposed.

And I have been critical, at times highly so, of the slowness and caution with which he has addressed health-care reform, leaving it to a dysfunctional Congress. I certainly understand why he has been slow to act and cautious in his approach, as I have written here many times, but I would like to see him take a more aggressive leadership role. He has begun to do just that, going back to his address to Congress a couple of weeks ago and continuing with a major media offensive designed in part to retake control of the narrative from Republican opponents and obstructionists, but he needs to do more, not least to bring Democrats together in support of meaningful reform.

Regardless, I cannot overstate my admiration for this man, and I was reminded of that as I watched his amazing appearance on David Letterman's show last night. After eight years of Bush-style juvenilia, it is refreshing to find an adult in the Oval Office, a president who speaks to Americans, and to the world, like an adult, and who also treats them, and all of us, like adults.

I wish he had defended the so-called "public option" last night. He didn't mention it by name, but that's what he was getting at, a "public option" or something like it. I also wish he had been more decisive on Afghanistan, too, but he was nonetheless remarkably candid about the problems there, and about the problem with the war. And while I wish he had been harder on his Republican opponents, I understand why he took the high road.

He was on for over half an hour, but, if you missed it, take the time to watch it in full. (If the clip doesn't appear, click here.)

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