One of the important questions facing our community, as well as the broader progressive movement and even the Democratic Party as a whole, is the proper amount of faith and fealty to vest in Barack Obama. As much as there have been leaders within the Democratic Party this decade, there hasn't been a leader in quite some time -- and certainly not since that leader had the capacity to effect real change.
Over at Daily Kos, Markos makes a strong case for a healthy dollop of skepticism.
Conservatives trusted Bush, thus let them destroy their party. I don't think it's smart to go down that path. There will always be debates about how much criticism is actually warranted, and there's a fine line between constructive and destructive criticisms. [...] But the notion that Obama is beyond criticism?
It's not entirely clear to me that it was the trust Republicans placed in former President Bush that was their death-knell, or rather the fact that George W. Bush was clearly not worthy of having that much power (his decisions were neither good for his party nor the nation as a whole), but the point is a good one.
Yet where that line is to be drawn is an important one. For better or for worse, parties are more effective when they are more or less unified. The Democrats had the trifecta of the White House, the Senate and the House sixteen years ago at the outset of the Clinton administration, and although the conservative noise machine and the unified GOP opposition were key to blocking the Democrats from achieving what they hoped to achieve, Democratic bickering and infighting played no small part in the party's inability to move the agenda it had run and won on. So a real part of me lines up with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had the following to say in her interview with this site posted yesterday:
[E]njoy hope and let him lead. Let him fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people. We will do our best to work with him with our best thinking on how to get the job done for the American people. But give him a chance to lead. Give it time.
And I think make judgments at the end of a Congress, at the end of a term, but not on the day today, because he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He brings to it a great vision, a great intellect, great strategic thinking, and great points to speak to the American people and give them hope. But he needs to be able to do it effectively, and that takes some time.
This isn't to say that we should bite our tongues for two or even four years, because I don't think that's wise -- and I'm certain that's not what the Speaker was implying. But if at the same time we are unwilling to take the leap with President Obama, unwilling to give him the time and opportunity to try to get done what needs to get done, what we elected him to accomplish, it's going to be significantly more difficult to achieve what we have hoped and strived and worked to achieve.
So, yes, there is room for constructive criticism, and making our voices heard. But to me it makes much more sense to do it in a way that moves the ball forward, rather than slows down or even stops the ball in its tracks, because I want to see universal healthcare and an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell and real tax reform and an end to the War in Iraq and a whole host of things that we will all need to come together in the end to make happen.