Tuesday, December 18

:: Damnation Through Praise

As a fervent Hillary supporter, my heart sunk when I saw the title of David Brooks' New York Times column this morning: The Obama-Clinton Issue. God, no, I thought. I am just not equipped to handle a Brooks pro-Hillary column.

Luckily I could breathe a sigh of relief - the column is actually pro-Obama. But just as I feared would be the case for Hillary, Brooks' words are a classic example of the "with friends like these" principle. While I think Obama's campaign rhetoric leaves him open to this kind of, um, love letter, this is too much - the campaign version of cruel-and-unusual punishment.

Brooks praises Obama for his consistent, pensive, docile demeanor:

But Obama does not ratchet up hostilities; he restrains them. He does not lash out at perceived enemies, but is aloof from them… This is a worldview that detests anger as a motivating force, that distrusts easy dichotomies between the parties of good and evil, believing instead that the crucial dichotomy runs between the good and bad within each individual.

Obama did not respond to his fatherlessness or his racial predicament with anger and rage, but as questions for investigation, conversation and synthesis. He approaches politics the same way. […] He pursues liberal ends in gradualist, temperamentally conservative ways.

Oy. Brooks, short version: I'm for Obama because he seems unlikely to push back hard against conservatives.

As usual, I don't agree. I think Obama would push back hard against a number of conservative demands. Whether or not he has the ability to do so effectively - and more effectively than any other candidate - is in question.

Brooks, a compulsive science-molester, adds a note of wackiness to the procedings with one of his weird analogies:

The presidency is a bacterium.

It finds the open wounds in the people who hold it. It infects them, and the resulting scandals infect the presidency and the country.

Okay, big guy. Keep hitting that 'nog.

Happily, the column ends with a short, simple sentence that makes sense of it all:
"Bob Herbert is off today."


Anonymous said...

" I think Obama would push back hard against a number of conservative demands"

IF the Dems could retain Congress and the Senate, no pushing back would be required. The veto pen would be put down.

Nina Miller said...

Welcome, Tom B. You're right - it would be a Democratic House and Senate - I mean, if the Democrats can't retain the Congress, they won't take the White House, right?

Still, I can't get past this sense that the conservatives will still have a formidable base of power. For one thing, they dominate so much of the mainstream media - Murdoch, Fox, Glenn Beck, Chris Matthews, Lou Dobbs and so on.

I think conservatives would kick up so much fuss that Obama would have to worry about the same things the Clintons faced in 1993-94 (1) sheer inability to get their message out and (2) holding conservative Democrats. Senators Nunn, Breaux and others I've no doubt purged from my memory were as destructive as any Republican to parts of the Democratic agenda. They're gone now, but others may take their place when the pressure is turned up.