Obama drives David Brooks crazy. He praises Obama for his "pragmatism," commitment to open debate (Fox news?), and "moderate temper"--while condemning him for seeming to become "like the sovereign on the cover of [Thomas Hobbes'] 'Leviathan'-- the brain of the nation to which all the cells in the body and the nervous system must report and defer."
President Obama has shown himself to be a fine administrator, but he erred in trying to make himself the irreplaceable man in nearly ever sphere of public life. He erred in not sensing that even a pragmatic government could seem imperious and alarming.
This is the error of a pragmatic man? Sounds more like the ideological fanatic that Hobbes strove to contain but instead spawned.
UPDATE: A sidebar on the Brooks article contains a brief symposium on the first complete Hebrew translation of the Leviathan. It also has the striking Leviathan frontispiece Brooks mentions. One contributor mentions that only recently "complete Hebrew editions of Locke, Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill have appeared for the first time -- each restoring material about the Bible and religion that earlier Israeli translators had elided." What these commentators miss is that Hobbes founded two traditions--the liberal one that the state exists to protect individual rights and the totalitarian one that the sovereign defines all legitimate activity.