Sunday, December 14, 2008

What We Talk About When We Talk About Change

David Roberts' post on Carol Browner is all fine and dandy, but I always wonder who people are talking to when they feel the need to say stuff like this:
Enviros unhappy with the Clinton administration environmental record -- and that's quite a few of them -- may blanche at this, which taps into the ongoing argument over whether Obama's a real liberal, and what he meant by promising change... My take is, when Obama promised change, he wasn't talking about plucking amateurs from outside government. He was talking about a change from incompetence and stagnation to competence and progress.
If anyone got behind Obama because they liked change in the abstract without having any more concrete sense of what they wanted, they are silly people with silly goals. The nice thing about the 'change' sloganeering of the Obama campaign was that it promised all sorts of concrete things to different people. You don't like the Iraq War? Obama will change our policy so we leave. You don't like Corporate America owning Washington? Obama will change that. You don't like having our government staffed by Regent University incompetents? Obama will change that. Even if 'change' meant something different to you than it did to the next Obama supporter, it stood a good chance of being true either way.

At this point, the campaign is over, and the mass communication benefits of talking in terms of change are gone. Universal health care, climate policy, closing Guantanamo -- let's talk of concrete things like these.
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