The Obama era: Imperfect is better than nothing

Health care, climate change, financial reform: What do they all have common?

By Andrew Leonard
December 18, 2009 4:19AM (UTC)
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Quick! What could the following possibly be in reference to?

So those who say that no deal is better than what is going on here are flat wrong. They really don't know anything about how government works and they've never taken a long trip. Maybe they've just gone next door to see the neighbor and watch television.

If you guessed health care, you lose. It's Tim Wirth, head of the United Nations Foundation, former undersecretary of state for global affairs during the Clinton administration, talking about a possible climate change deal with Grist's Amanda Little.


Wirth is reasonably optimistic that a last minute compromise will be hammered out involving concessions on all sides, focusing on the four main areas of dispute -- emissions reductions, financing provisions for the developing world, monitoring and evaluation, and technology transfer. But it won't be a perfect deal, and it certainly won't satisfy the climate activists currently getting tear-gassed by the Danish police.

Obama campaigned on hope and change, but is governing according to the principle that a few incremental steps of progress are better than flat-lining, (or going full-throttle in reverse.) It's probably the only realistic approach, but it sure explains his sagging poll numbers. Because it's very hard to get excited about crumbs when you've been dreaming about cake.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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