Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Gerson on Obama

A characteristically nice turn of phrase:

Looking back over recent months, there is a common thread in Obama’s response to both the Wright revelations and his "bitter" gaffe. In his Philadelphia speech on race, Obama talked of "the anger and the bitterness" of Wright’s oppressed generation. He referred to "a similar anger" existing within "the white community" that politicians have routinely exploited on issues such as crime and welfare. America, in this view, is beset by anxiety and fear and resentment and racial stalemate, which can be overcome by Obama’s broad understanding and audacious hope.


Obama’s political approach is wearing poorly. Obamaism seems to consist of the belief that the candidate transcends the understandable but confused anger of black and white Americans. And so Obamaism requires an unfavorable comparison of the American people to Obama himself.

Discussions - 4 Comments

I am not sure that it can be overcome by Obama...certainly it might not be capable of being overcome by Socrates. Nor is it perhaps likely that your own students are willing to concede an unfavorable compasion between what they know and what you do. I know that often times I am not...Aristotle's opening to the Nichomachean Ethics is more chastening and offensive than is often times acknowledged...and yet Obama does have a deep faith in the american people...he is just saying that his deep faith is somewhat contingent upon Jefferson's arguement that the art of government consists in the art of being honest. Furthermore he says that there are a lot of institutional and corporate interests that benefit from manipulating people...hiding the "great principles of right and wrong" with fabricated consent. Like Aristotle he is sceptical that we can always transcend our environment...which is why he sees a moral duty and a shared public interest in a government doing what it can to educate and liberate people from self-incured tutelage. "I pondered the fact that, according to his own autobiography, Senator Byrd had received his first taste of leadership in his early twenties, as a member of the Raleigh County Klu Klux error he attributed--no doubt correctly--to the time and place in which he'd been raised."(Audacity of Hope)

"Senator Byrd's life--like most of ours--has been a struggle of warring impulses, a twinning of darkness and light. And in that sense I realized that he really was a proper emblem for the Senate...the Senate's role as a guardian against the passions of the moment.."

That is for Obama the Senate and the true teachings of Madison and Jefferson reflect both a great hope for the american people and also a certain acceptance of human nature...but the ideal polity towards which we need to progress is one not focused only upon private happiness but public happiness, this requires not just the social contract that FDR stiched together but a recognition that public happiness is public virtue wrote large. Obama might dream of a day when the Senates role as guardian against the passions of the moment are no longer necessary, while not naive enough to believe that we are there yet, he nevertheless believes it is a proper function of government, society, culture and individual americans to aim towards this goal.

Obama has been largely immune from criticism on policy grounds because HRC is courting the same left-wing activist element of the Democratic Party that Obama is courting.

By Labor Day it will be clear how unsuitable Obama is for the presidency on the personal level. Then McCain will go to work on the fact that Obama is a true-blue liberal of the most doctrinaire sort.

This election is the Democrats to lose but they are hell-bent on losing it against a mediocre Republican.

"Maybe I am too steeped in the myth of the founding to reject it entirely. Maybe like those who reject Darwin in favor of intelligent design, I prefer to assume that someone is at the wheel. In the end the question that I keep asking myself is why, if the Constitution is only about power and not about principle, if all we are doing is making it up as we go along, has our own republic not only survived but served as a rough model for so many of the successful societies on earth?"

"The answer I settle on--which is by no means original to me---requires a shift in metaphors, one that sees our democracy not as a house to be built, but as a conversation to be had."

"What the framework of our Constitution can do is organize the way by which we argue about our future...Because power in our government is so diffuse, the process of making law in America compels us to entertain the possibility that we are not always right and to sometimes change our minds; it challenges us to examine our motives and our interests constantly, and suggests that both our individual and collective judgments are at once legitimate and highly fallible."

And so Obamaism requires an unfavorable comparison of the American people to Obama himself.

Yes. But that is liberalism, not Obamaism. Unless we want to consider Obama "liberalism made flesh", in keeping with the whacky religious fevor surrounding him.

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