Wednesday, January 21, 2009

They'd Rather Be Right Than Have Him Succeed

I was overwhelmingly tempted to entitle this post "Sean Hannity Can Go to Hell" but a good night's sleep convinced me that such a move was slightly too crass and unbecoming. (Though since I've told you that I was thinking along those lines, maybe the damage is done anyway.) In any case . . .

I think it's important, in the midst of Obamania, to give credence to skeptical voices. In other words, despite the widespread support for the new president and wild optimism regarding the possibilities of his administration, it's important to keep in mind that (a) he hasn't done anything yet and like any other president will have to be judged on his record and (b) he is not omniscient or omnipotent (or, for that matter, entirely morally good) and so we can be certain that there will be missteps and mistakes along the way. Remembering these points is an important part of being a critical and thoughtful citizen in any well-functioning democracy and I hope that even his most ardent supporters do not forget them.

But there is a massive difference between (a) remembering that hype and optimism do not equal success and (b) wishing failure on someone because his failure means that you were right to level your criticisms or back a different candidate. I can't help but feel that there are far too many out there who are taking this latter approach. Worried more about being right than what is right, they are entirely unwilling to give the current administration the requisite space and support to succeed. Their minds are too small--and their egos too big--to be faithful pursuers of truth, justice, and goodness. And to the degree that they obtain followers, they are likely to spread their small-mindedness and undermine the collective energy to get things done.

(And you'll forgive me if I'm not impressed by protestations along the lines of "I hope I'm wrong" or "I hope he succeeds" when they are made by certain people. Talk is cheap and as I've said before, you don't prove that you are fair and balanced simply by repeating over and over that you are fair and balanced. You prove it by actually exhibiting fairness and balance over time, something that certain segments of the population--and certain prominent blowhards--have given no indication they are able or willing do.)

Even if you're skeptical about Obama's prospects, and even if you think that he has some things flat wrong, I hope that your skepticism doesn't inhibit the desire many of us have to put egos aside and get to work. For those who are simply unable to get beyond themselves, I hope you'll forgive us if we don't pay you much attention.

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