Friday, December 04, 2009

Obama's Analytical Governing Style

New York Times columnist David Brooks presents an interesting contrast between the passionate Obama campaign and the analytical Obama administration:
Many Democrats are nostalgic for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign — for the passion, the clarity, the bliss-to-be-alive fervor.
I remember that fervor, but even in the midst of the enormous crowds, one could always see the cool underneath the passion. Brooks points to the lengthy review that led to the decision to deploy 30,000 more troops as an example of his cool governing style.
Obama, on the other hand, cloaked himself in what you might call Niebuhrian modesty. His decision to expand the war is the most morally consequential one of his presidency so far, yet as the moral stakes rose, Obama’s emotional temperature cooled to just above freezing.
I would guess he meant Reinhold, not Richard, Niebuhr. Reinhold Niebuhr was distinctly not a christian triumphalist, but thoughtful and measured in his musings about the role of Christianity in a secular society. Niebuhr is also known as the author of the famed Serenity Prayer, which a prominent skeptic now acknowledges. But I digress.
Brooks believes Obama's governing style is more suited to mid-course corrections than his predecessor could seem to navigate:
The advantage of the Obama governing style is that his argument-based organization is a learning organization. Amid the torrent of memos and evidence and dispute, the Obama administration is able to adjust and respond more quickly than, say, the Bush administration ever did.
Obama's speech on Afghanistan was not one of his most memorable, and contained no ringing calls to arms. As Mario Cuomo said, "You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose."


Anonymous Edmund Dohnert said...

As best I can tell, when it comes to Afghanistan, Bush the Lesser might as well still be president. In this case I don't see too much 'change I can believe in'.

I am beginning to think that Obama is not totally in command and may actually be afraid of the US military-industrial-congressional complex. Either that, or he has calculated that it is to his political advantage to appear hawkish so that he doesn't get hammered by the Republicans in the 2010 congressional elections and, more important, the 2012 presidential election.

Shades of LBJ in 1964? Very disappointing indeed.

5:40 PM, December 04, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:37 AM, December 05, 2009  

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