Thursday, October 02, 2008

Obama: The Liberal Reagan

As I've noted several times, Obama is the liberal Reagan...down to the temperament. Here is something that Joe Klein just wrote about Obama's temperament:

I've also gotten the sense, in the times I've interviewed and chatted with him, that calm is Obama's natural default position. He is friendly, informal, accessible...and a mystery, hard to get to know. He doesn't give away much, doesn't — unlike Bill Clinton — have that desperate need to make you like him. His brilliant, at times excessive, oratory is an outlier — the only over-the-top, Technicolor quality he has.

Compare this to some of what was written about Reagan:

He was a riddle impervious to all who tried to catch him in an introspective moment. Even his wife Nancy was puzzled. "You can get just so far to Ronnie, and then something happens," she told his biographer Lou Cannon.

While their most fervent admirers would no doubt be outraged by the comparison, Obama and Reagan show similarity after similarity. Both were outsiders to the political establishment. Both combined a calm demeanor with dazzling oratory (though Obama still has a ways to go to catch up to the Great Communicator). Both represented hope and change to a weary, frightened nation who felt that they were going in the wrong direction.

As a capitalist, the prospect of a liberal Reagan scares the hell out of me, but if that's what it takes to turn around our standing in the world, then I've got to put country first. If President Obama does half the good that Ronnie did, I'll be satisfied.

Related story: My Reagan Moment.


Paul said...

"but if that's what it takes to turn around our standing in the world, then I've got to put country first."

Isn't that really like putting our country last?

This is what gets so many conservatives upset - this idea that America has to be like the rest of the world, that it can be no greater than the greatest of the other countries... it's all moral-relevance. We have to dumb ourselves down, let go of our strong belief that this is the greatest country on earth, so as to not make 'little johnny country' feel bad and be mad at us.

We all understand that this is an interconnected world. And we all understand that working together in this world is important. But giving up our greatness in order to have friends doesn't get us any friends... all the other countries are jealous of our standing in the world and the only thing they want is the final destruction of our country - and the rise of their country in the world.

This whole idea that we should 'go along to get along' is hogwash. We're the leaders of the free world, and when we act like it, the world is a better place. Ask Reagan.

Paul said...

oh, and just to be clear - I know you're talking mostly personality in the beginning... but I am talking about a 'liberal Reagan' - raise taxes, weak on defense, socialist welfare ideas, leftest judiciary and on and on ... all so we can have 'friends' around the world. It's not worth it. And I'd politely ask that everyone put country first, like the real Reagan.

Alex said...

Acting like a leader can look stunning or can look foolish - and it all depends if people are actually following you.

Theodore Nordsieck said...

To be somewhat less abrasive than paul,

what benefit for the US do you see in "our standing in the world"?

Chris said...

Paul, Theodore:

I admit to tweaking the McCain campaign for their (largely failed) slogan. But I am deadly serious about the fact the USA needs to be more intelligent about the exercise of soft power.

We are the strongest and richest country in the world, and I have no desire to see us become a nation of cringing, self-loathing apologists.

Yet it is also true that one can show grace in the exercise of power, rather than taunting those in a weaker position.

The real model for this is George H. W. Bush, who was an exemplar of the intellectual/internationalist wing of the old Republican coalition.

Bush 1 was a master of diplomacy; he won a worldwide mandate to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, and even get the rest of the world to chip in and pay for the conflict.

That's real leadership--eschewing the cheap high of defiant action in favor of real results.

I hated Chirac (that cheese-eating surrender monkey) and Schroeder as much as anyone, and I wish that Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin would be eaten by wolves. But we're the greatest country in the world, not a 3rd-grader. We should make decisions based on facts and what's good for our country, not based on whether someone hurt our feelings.

That doesn't mean kowtowing to other countries. But it does mean treating everyone with respect, even those who don't deserve it, emphasizing similarities rather than differences, and reclaiming the moral high ground.

I love America, which is why I want to see it restored to its traditional standing as the shining beacon of good in this world.