Reading Obama, and getting it right!

I rarely if ever blog about politics – though I follow it avidly. I spend large parts of my day reading the news, keeping up with what is going on. Most of my news gathering happens online (the little TV I watch, usually the Daily Show, also happens online). And it is not that I am reticent to talk about my political views, not at all. It is just that I don’t see this blog as being the site for it.

Today, however, I will make an exception to the rule, prompted by a column by NYTimes columnist, David Brooks. As I have written before, I am quite ambivalent in my response to Mr. Brooks. I typically disagree with his political writings but I love his occasional forays into science, psychology and economics. So to read yesterday’s column (which was all about politics) and to agree with almost all of it was surprising. I think that in this column Mr. Brooks has given the best summary of how Obama is (mis)perceived by people on the right and the left, as well as a pretty nice encapsulation of who Obama really is.

This article, Getting Obama Right, is spot on. Here are some key quotes:

Liberals are wrong to call him weak and indecisive. He’s just not always pursuing their aims. Conservatives are wrong to call him a big-government liberal. That’s just not a fair reading of his agenda.

The fact is, Obama is as he always has been, a center-left pragmatic reformer.

In a sensible country, people would see Obama as a president trying to define a modern brand of moderate progressivism. In a sensible country, Obama would be able to clearly define this project without fear of offending the people he needs to get legislation passed. But we don’t live in that country. We live in a country in which many people live in information cocoons in which they only talk to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect. They come away with perceptions fundamentally at odds with reality, fundamentally misunderstanding the man in the Oval Office.

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