I seldom read Ruth Marcus. I usually read columnists first thing in the morning, and I can't risk dozing off so early in the day on clouds of Beltway banality.
To wit, Marcus writes that President Obama's job plan
signals the failure of the central promise of the Obama presidency: that the forces of reason, pragmatism and persuasion can combine to thwart the ordinary laws of political physics.
Shame, continues Marcus: Obama "is now practicing politics as usual."
Prior to his inauguration, perhaps Obama should have assigned some elementary reading of William James to the Beltway commentariat. In it, these grievously unschooled students of philosophy would have learned that pragmatism, for sure, enfolds reason and persuasion -- yet all three are in no way antithetical to "politics as usual," assuming the politics of pragmatism suddenly warrants the politics of usual-ness.
The absolute essence of political pragmatism is the wary avoidance of doctrine, inflexibility, and preconceived courses of action. At its core lurks the fox -- not the hedgehog -- who, under a cover of general principles, lies willing to instantly recalibrate and refashion.
How so many among the commentariat got into their stenographic little heads the notion that Obama's pragmatism of 2011 must be indistinguishable from Obama's pragmatism of 2009 is, as far as I can tell, merely a product of poor educational breeding.