Sunday, November 16, 2008

When Good Qualities Go Bad

Paul McCartney's effortless ability to write catchy melodies caught up with him with 1971's Wild Life. That LP, Wings' first, was marked by memorable hooks and inane lyrics. John Lennon bottomed out the following year with Sometime in New York City. Lennon's passion for causes reached an extreme with tunes like Attica State and Luck of the Irish, tuneful but weak entries to his canon. Hardly singalongs.

I appreciate Barack Obama's post-partisan stance but, while admirable, it contains a whiff of weakness. I seemed to stand alone on my view of his race speech. It seemed all exposition, which, though important, didn't go very deep. A note - I was, and remain, very supportive of our President - elect. He is the most quintessentially American person to have run for the highest office of the land. Self-made, stable family, healthy amount of ambition - he really has a lot going for him. Unlike W., Obama is the one I would actually want to have a beer with. Unlike Clinton, he has all the smarts without the mishegas.

But I do have a nagging fear. In not holding Joe Lieberman;s feet to the fire, one might say Obama is above the fray and not looking back. OK, maybe. But isn't there a slight problem in letting people get away with outrageous behavior without repercussions? A theme of this election cycle was accountability.

The idea that the nation is "center-right" and that Obama needs to "govern from the center" in order to appease the party just trounced by the electorate, is patently false. We just bore witness to how fraudulent that claim is. Yet, Obama seems to have a tendency to make nice, even with those whose actions deserve something quite different. It worries me.

Back to John and Paul. Even at their weakest, I still bought their albums. They were, even at their worst, a cut above the rest. So for Obama.

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