[lit-ideas] Obama

  • From: JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 19:10:18 EDT

I'd really like to see him in the contention...
Julie Krueger
<<Barack Obama should run for president. 
He should run first for the good of his party. It would demoralize the  
Democrats to go through a long primary season with the most exciting figure in  
party looming off in the distance like some unapproachable dream. The next  
Democratic nominee should either be Barack Obama or should have the stature 
that  would come from defeating Barack Obama. 
Second, he should run because of his age. Obamaâs inexperience is his most  
obvious shortcoming. Over the next four years, the world could face a genocidal 
 civil war in Iraq, a wave of nuclear proliferation, more Islamic extremism 
and a  demagoguesâ revolt against globalization. Do we really want a 
forty-something in  the White House? 
And yet in his new book, âThe Audacity of Hope,â Obama makes a strong  
counterargument. He notes that itâs time to move beyond the political style 
of  the 
baby boom generation. This is a style, he said in an interview late Tuesday,  
that is highly moralistic and personal, dividing people between who is good 
and  who is bad. 
Obama himself has a mentality formed by globalization, not the S.D.S. With  
his multiethnic family and his globe-spanning childhood, there is a little 
piece  of everything in Obama. He is perpetually engaged in an internal 
 between different pieces of his hybrid self â Kenya with Harvard, Kansas 
with  the South Side of Chicago â and he takes that conversation outward into 
âPolitics, like science, depends on our ability to persuade each other of  
common aims based on a common reality,â he writes in his book. He distrusts  
righteous anger and zeal. He does not demonize his opponents and tells 
that he does not think George Bush is a bad man. 
He has a compulsive tendency to see both sides of any issue. Joe Klein of  
Time counted 50 instances of extremely judicious on-the-one-hand-on  
the-other-hand formulations in the book. He seems like the guy who spends his  
first 15 
minutes at a restaurant debating the relative merits of fish versus  meat. 
And yet this style is surely the antidote to the politics of the past several 
 years. It is surely true that a president who brings a deliberative style to 
the  White House will multiply his knowledge, not divide it. 
During our talk, I reminded Obama that at some level politics is about power, 
 not conversation. He pointed out that heâd risen from nothing to national  
prominence in a few years so he knew something about acquiring power, but he  
kept returning to his mode, which is conversation, deliberation and  
The third reason Obama should run for president is his worldview. At least in 
 the way he conceptualizes the world, he is not an orthodox liberal. In the 
book,  he harks back to a Hamiltonian tradition that calls not for big 
government, but  for limited yet energetic government to enhance social 
mobility. The  
contemporary guru he cites most is Warren Buffett. 
He has interesting things to say about the way culture and economics  
intertwine to create urban poverty. He, conceptually, welcomes free trade and  
the U.S. may have no choice but to improvise and slog it out in Iraq.  
The chief problem in his book is that after launching off on some interesting 
 description of a problem, he will settle back, when it comes time to make a  
policy suggestion, into a familiar and small-bore Democratic proposal. Iâd 
give  him an A for conception but a B-minus for policy creativity. 
Obama, who is nothing if not honest about himself, is aware of the problem,  
and has various explanations for it. And what matters at this point is not his 
 platform, but the play of his mind. He is one of those progressives, like 
Gordon  Brown in Britain, who is thinking about the challenges of globalization 
outside  the normal clichÃs. 
Coming from my own perspective, I should note that I disagree with many of  
Obamaâs notions and could well end up agreeing more with one of his 
But anyone whoâs observed him closely can see that Obama is a new kind of  
politician. As Klein once observed, heâs that rarest of creatures: a 
phenomenon that lives up to the hype. 
It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again  
so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether youâre liberal or  
conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.  >> 



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