When Obama secured the Democratic nomination in June 2008, he told an admiring crowd that someday “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”
I read that line to Obama and asked how his high-flying rhetoric sounded in these days of low-flying governance.
“It sounds ambitious,” he agreed. “But you know what? We’ve made progress on each of those fronts.”
He quoted Mario Cuomo’s line about campaigning in poetry and governing in prose. “But the prose and the poetry match up,” he said.
“It would be very hard for people to look back and say, You know what, Obama didn’t do what he’s promised. I think they could say, On a bunch of fronts he still has an incomplete. But I keep a checklist of what we committed to doing, and we’ve probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we talked about during the campaign. And I hope as long as I’m president, I’ve got a chance to work on the other 30 percent.”
But save the planet? If you promise to save the planet, might people think you would, you know, actually save the planet?
He laughed, before shifting back to hope and inspiration. “
I make no apologies for having set high expectations for myself and for the country, because I think we can meet those expectations,” he said. “Now, the one thing that I will say — which I anticipated and can be tough — is the fact that in a big, messy democracy like this, everything takes time. And we’re not a culture that’s built on patience.”
Peter Baker (2010) – ”The Education of a President”