Obama infancy not spent in manger nor adrift on the Nile in a basket of pitch coated bulrushes

Obama told America that “contrary to the rumors you’ve heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton, sent here by my father Jor-El, to save the planet …” The later was, of course, a reference which was totally lost to people not familiar with The Man of Steel. Joke or not, President-elect Obama knows now better than he did before the election when he read those scripted lines that he is bound to disappoint or anger many reformers and progressives expecting him to be Jesus, Moses and Superman all rolled into one.

Nobody writes a book like his second one, and titles it “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” unless he has his eyes on the ultimate political prize. (N.Y. Times review from Oct. 2006.)

Obama is a man with a plan, and part of the plan is assuring that not only is he a two term president, but that in 2010 he has a solid Democratic majority in the House and Senate.

Each and every one of his high level appointments to date has been politically calculated to play well with the electorate of 2010 and 2012, and my sense of the way he plans for the future, for 2014 as well.

For those skeptical about his seriousness about assembling the team of rivals, consider whether he even bothered to consider whether Defense Secretary Gates or General Jones was pro-life or pro-choice.

We have had eight years where such a litmus test was applied to virtually every executive branch appointment.

I believe Obama is a true reformer who wants to earn his place on the historians list of the ten best presidents in the year 3000.

He knows full well that to achieve his goal he has to deliver. He has not only the audacity of hope, but the audacity to believe he will put the tired phrase “transformational president” where he really wants it to be: in the history books when he’ll be studied by every student when there have been so many presidents only the top ten and five worst are studied in grade school.

Ironically, he wants to be studied at the top along with George W. Bush at the bottom.

To the extent that nobody gets to where Obama has without incredible self-assurance, ambition and what is erroneously called ego (everybody has an ego). Unfortuntately, you don’t get elected without a little pandering to the electorate too.

We have our cynics who won’t believe anything until they see it. As a psychotherapist I see cynicism as a high level defense mechanism, i.e., a common and healthy one because it is useful and doesn’t really have much of a down side except it tends to make people a little dyspeptic. If you don’t get your hopes too high, there’s less disappointment when someone lets you down.

It is more of a psychological risk to, as is often said since the Jim Jones mass suicide, “drink the Kool Aid” hoping it isn’t laced with cyanide by an inspiring leader.

My preference is to hope for the best and realistically prepare to understand and deal with everything short of that, including the worst.

So Barack isn’t Jesus or Moses, but ask yourself whether what we write here would stand a snowflake’s chance in hell of making a difference under any other president. We’ve already seen Obama change his mind about his choice of CIA director, George O. Brennan, who “withdrew his name” because of criticism form the liberal, reformist and progressive blogsphere or netroots.

Folks, that’s you and me. From what I can tell, Obama actually listens to us.

The truth, for cynics and believers, for pessimists and optimists, and everyone in between, won’t be known for some time.

Meanwhile I’ll keep an antidote to the Kool-Aide handy and do my level best to evaluate Obama’s decisions objectively. I am well aware that cliches often are based on human behavior, thus hope sometimes does spring eternal, and there’s such a thing as wishful thinking, and that idealization is as much of a psychological defense as cynicism.

We’re lucky that with Obama in these pages even in our little corner of the political webworld, what we write here will be taken far more seriously in aggregate, if not specifically, than the venom published on the right wing’s more noxious websites.

Hal Brown’s previous columns.

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