I also just think that Obama is a pragmatic liberal. His judgments in the past have been largely practical and reasonable. He is not an ideologue. Nor is he an excessive partisan. Those qualities are admirable from a conservative point of view. As for Burkeanism, I agree it can be an amorphous concept. Because it allows for a great deal of lee-way for prudence to determine particular judgments in history, it allows for minimal change and maximal change within its boundaries. I don’t think this makes it meaningless as a concept. It is the way a society changes that Burke was interested in. He backed the huge change of the American revolution, for example. And all we’re talking about with Obama is a prudent response to an ill-begotten war, some measures to tackle a failing healthcare system and an attempt to tackle the emergent problem of climate change. And all in a spirit of national reconciliation. This is no Robespierre, Ross. ~Andrew Sullivan
After a fashion, he is very pragmatic. He found it pragmatic to vote present numerous times in the Illinois legislature. For instance, he voted present several times because he would not vote for a measure requiring protection for children that survived abortion procedures. For the purposes of passing legislation, a present vote has the same effect as a nay. He said he opposed such measures because he feared it might undermine Roe v. Wade, but didn’t want to go on record clearly voting against it. That’s pragmatic all right, and not very impressive. As Nathan Gonzales explains:
In 2001, Obama voted “present” on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted “present” on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the Audacity of Hope, on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the “born alive” bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote “present” on the bills instead of “no.”
That’s leadership right there. But fortunately he’s no ideologue. He’s just so committed to maintaining legal abortion that he will adopt the ne plus ultra position on the issue.