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Why are we so addicted to the instant fix?

If the short game gets us only into tomorrow while the long game gets us into next year slowly but more surely, which do we prefer?

Actions for tomorrow must be done today whether or not they can be thought through. Effective long-term actions unfold over weeks, months, even years.

How many of us can recognize and appreciate a long game if it unfolds so slowly?

In fact we did not; it took time and close attention. Even after becoming aware, it took time to soak into our psyches, for those on this site anyway.

How many of us do, or even can, play the long game with care and patience?

Are we so engrossed in the pixels, we fail to read the screen?

It would seem so. Tomorrow is here and too few of us are even aware of the long game Obama has been playing.

How can we change that?

What follows is a takeoff from Andrew Sullivan’s article beginning on page 32 in Newsweek, 23 Jan 2012. He has published a long-needed perspective on the Obama Administration.

Yes, we all suffer the polarization that now dominates our politics, and therefore the media. Gingrich rightly criticized a moderator for asking about his personal life, but he is among those doing the polarizing. He never hesitates to sling mud at any and all who oppose him. And yes, he buys free airtime with his outbursts. That condition, once so foreign to the American Dream came about so slowly that we hardly knew what was happening. Yes, we may need to work up some hate for those who physically attack our nation. Yes, we may need to act forcefully, as we did after 9/11. But why did the virus of hatred turn us to fighting among ourselves? This is not a new historic infection—recall Vietnam. In each case, encouragement came from on high.

Could the polarization be a natural event? We think so, but not for any simplistic reason. It is not just politics. Johnson and Bush II were equally culpable in being divisive. Each stirred up opposition among his own backers. The answer lies in our genes.

The American public owns part of the problem: We have not just become complacent with our centuries of Pax Romana in our homeland, we have become addicted to the quick fix, the rapid-fire commentary, and the even faster subliminal commercials. These now seem to describe the American Way—for all too many of us.

Bush II had the handicap of the Internet which exposed his agenda to wider audiences. Even his gross-deviousness on a massive scale of trillions of dollars was slow to be exposed, and slower still to be acknowledged. Nevertheless, among his enduring legacies will be his folly in turning Americans against themselves. Even his Grand Old Party of Lincoln has become so fragmented it is no longer recognizable. That too is a legacy, and a very poor one. America badly needs a fiscal-conservative hand in the White House, not to mention the Congress.

Antagonism has again arisen between economic classes. If democracy means equal opportunity among all citizens, then America is one of the poorest examples on earth.

With that preamble, we return to Sullivan’s timely article. To make it obvious-at-a-glance, we list some of his major points in tabular format. Having said that, we must caution that just because there is a correlation between actions taken and positive results, the real picture may be a bit more complex, even circumstantial. Nevertheless, since the economy is on the mend, and the esteem our allies and even some of our enemies have for us as a society is also improving dramatically, the course corrections this administration has made is having effect.

Sullivan’s points;


Bush tax cuts for the rich were continued.
A third of the Obama stimulus package was tax cuts on 95% of “the rest of us.”

Spending Record

Bush policies: $5.07 trillion.

Obama projected: $1.4 trillion

Discretionary spending.

If Bush = 2, then Obama = 1

Health Care

Bush Medicare cost increased dramatically in fact.

Obamacare projected to reduce cost by the Congressional Budget office. It is still too early to be sure. “It does not have a public option: it gives a huge new client base to the drug and insurance companies... Its passage did not preempt recovery efforts; it followed them. …the administration is open to further reform and has agreed to allow states to experiment in different ways to achieve the same result.” Finally, a further quote: ”Making 44 million current free-riders pay into the system is not fiscally reckless; it is fiscally prudent. I dare say it, conservative.” Andrew Sullivan


Bush’s ”No Child Left Behind” is now an historic failure. It was top-down, one-size-fits-all.

Obama’s ”Race to the Top” is built on flexibility. The only assumption is that the best programs will surface and become new standards. Obama gives the experts time and power to explore in his long game.

Foreign Policy

Bush: “You are either with us or you are against us.” Then Bush ignored bin Laden. Sullivan: “Romney accuses Obama of apologizing for America, and others all but accuse him of treason and appeasement...Bush talked tough but acted counter-productively.

Obama reversed Bush’s policy of ignoring the 9/11 mastermind and brought bin Laden to dramatic justice. He continued the heat effectively and even succeeded in turning the Arab world against al Qaeda. (Did Bush need an ongoing foil to keep up the heat?) Sullivan. ”Obama has simply, quietly, relentlessly decimated our real enemies, while winning the propaganda war.” …Obama has made other countries actively seek America’s help and re-appreciate our role. As an antidote to the bad feelings of the Iraq War, it has worked close to perfectly.

Heat from the Left

Liberals, in their own zealotry, failed to realize that America, its governance and people, have a built-in inertia that prevents rapid change. Liberals projected that Obama would quickly cure all our ills. It could not be, but many liberals hold him personally accountable for reform that in their eyes has progressed far too slowly. There is no instant fix, in spite of commercials to the contrary. Sullivan: What liberals have never understood about Obama is that he practices show-don’t tell, long-game of domestic politics. What matters to him is what he can get done, not what what he can immediately take credit for. …To understand Obama, you have to take the long view, because he does.” This particular quick-fix fantasy affects the Republicans too. Just listen to the debates. Of course we all want instant gratification. But nature just doesn’t operate that way. Obama has indeed kept many, but not all, of his campaign promises.

Captive of Wall Street

To too large an extent, this is true. Unfortunately, when the deepest-ever world-wide depression is pending, you do what you have to do. Escalating the danger is the fact that our world is now so interlocked in trade and other ties, that an American melt-down could be close to fatal for humanity as we know it. A melt-down of the US banks would surely cascade into a tsunami of national bankruptcies. Bush left things on the very brink of that event, a fact now forgotten—apparently by both parties as well as by us, the public. Obama saw his job as preventing that and he did. Not everyone was pleased with how he did it, even in his own party. And many said it would not work. But, having said that, yes, money now talks and it may yet do us in. Democracy for the one-percent is still an all-too-real possibility. But we now have breathing room, some at least.


Bush made torture his center piece in his war on terror, missing the more effective ways to gain intelligence.

Obama changed that, if only in part. He signed into law a bill that allowed American citizens to be held indefinitely without trial. We think that was not necessary; certainly the foreseeable threats do not merit such an extreme measure.

The essence of this page is two-fold: To bring some reality into our thinking, whether we are left, center, or right in our philosophies. To do otherwise will surely add to future problems that will be tough enough in their own rights. George Orwell put it nicely:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

Obama is getting heat from all sides and the middle, but he sails on.
Do you suppose he will have the last laugh?

That is still problematic. But for the first time since Eisenhower and Kennedy, we have a helmsman who has avoided icebergs of Titanic size, and kept his name clean. We hope and expect him to continue on course, adjusting if/as necessary.


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