I am still not persuaded, and I reject the main premise of the piece–that the person can transcend the policy1 –but Andrew Sullivan sure has me thinking. His piece on Obama is really worth the considerable period of time it takes to read and digest. He really got me going with two things. First:
…if you sense, as I do, that greater danger lies ahead, and that our divisions and recent history have combined to make the American polity and constitutional order increasingly vulnerable, then the calculus of risk changes. Sometimes, when the world is changing rapidly, the greater risk is caution. Close-up in this election campaign, Obama is unlikely. From a distance, he is necessary. At a time when America’s estrangement from the world risks tipping into dangerous imbalance, when a country at war with lethal enemies is also increasingly at war with itself, when humankind’s spiritual yearnings veer between an excess of certainty and an inability to believe anything at all, and when sectarian and racial divides seem as intractable as ever, a man who is a bridge between these worlds may be indispensable.
The other is from a speech by Obama himself, about his conversion to Christianity as a young adult (an experience I had not known about before; he was raised in a secular home):
But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard Godâ€™s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering his truth and carrying out his works.
Although I was standing before the ark, I know what the man means.
Still, I am not persuaded. I am getting closer. I am not quite there.
- Or, perhaps more accurately, I understand where this idea comes from–presidentialism itself, especially without either party lists or ranked-choice voting in the congressional electoral system–but that only points towards the underlying problem of the institutions themselves. [↩]