David Brooks contrasts the post-partisan styles of Obama and McCain, noting that for Obama post-partisanship seems more a matter of style than of substance. (Yup.)
In Norman, Oklahoma, a group consisting mostly of ex-Senators (as well as Michael Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel), released an anodyne statement calling on candidates to work toward establishing a government of national unity. The description of our challenges is, for the most part compelling, and that’s part of what contributes to our difficulty: in a nation that’s roughly evenly divided, everyone feels a sense of urgency about their solutions and is convinced that the other guy’s are the road to perdition. Telling us that matters are serious doesn’t change that and doesn’t provide a roadmap out of perdition. Bringing the nation together to solve common problems sounds good and makes those who call for it feel good, but we’re still obliged critically to examine the solutions folks offer.
Which brings me back to Brooks on McCain:
McCain’s campaign events are unpredictable. At Obama events, the candidate gives a moving speech while the crowd rises deliriously as one. McCain holds town meetings. People challenge him, sometimes angrily. And if they oppose him, McCain will come back to them two or three times so that there can be an honest exchange of views. Some politicians try to persuade their audience that they agree with them. McCain welcomes disagreement and talks about it.
A post-partisanship that welcomes disagreement and doesn’t conceal an agenda might just be what the doctor ordered.