Politicians, especially presidents, have a habit of asking voters for their patience. Voters can be capricious in return in extending that forbearance. It doesn't matter if it's war, the economy, or another vexing bother, if things aren't going well presidents ask us to be patient. Too often, such requests are nothing more than a dodge, a feint to put off paying some political price or other. At times, though, the appeals for a measure of national fortitude are entirely rational and justified. Sometimes effecting change in our government — even change that seems like common sense — can be difficult. There are many reasons for this, but often, the checks and balances that the framers specifically built in to make our government slow to move by design are at the root .
But patience isn't always easy. If it were, it wouldn't be much of a virtue now, would it? (Breathing and eating, by contrast, are usually easy but rarely described as virtues). So patience may be a virtue, but in politics, it all depends upon the leader in whom we invest our collective tolerance. In other words, will our patience be rewarded?
George W. Bush asked for, and tested, our patience often. But with two mismanaged wars, the bungled Hurricane Katrina recovery, missteps and lapses of all sorts, Bush rarely delivered.
Barack Obama, too, has sought a level of patience more than once as signs loom that many are growing impatient with his leadership. While not as angry as the disquiet on the right, even the president's erstwhile allies among the left have become restive. On one level, agitation on the left is fully understandable as there is so much to be done, and the current Democratic dominance clearly presents the strongest opportunity to do so. On another level, though, impatience among progressives may be ill-timed and may be hampering Obama unnecessarily. Case in point: the president was hammered from the left for months, accused of supporting draconian policies regarding secrecy and national security not much different than Bush's'. The administration indicated those policies were still a work in progress — stay tuned — but many progressives wouldn't give Obama any benefit of the doubt.