The Bridge

Garry Wills reviews the new book about Obama:

Obama’s strategy everywhere before entering the White House was one of omnidirectional placation. It had always worked. Why should he abandon, at this point, a method of such proved effectiveness? Yet success at winning acceptance may not be what is called for in a leader moving through a time of peril. To disarm fears of change (the first African-­American presidency is, in itself, a big jolt of change), Obama has stressed continuity. Though he first became known as a critic of the war in Iraq, he has kept aspects or offshoots of Bush’s war on terror — possible future “renditions” (kidnappings on foreign soil), trials of suspected terrorists in military tribunals, no investigations of torture, an expanded Afghan commitment, though he promised to avoid “a dumb war.” He appointed as his vice president and secretary of state people who voted for the Iraq war, and as secretary of defense and presiding generals people who conducted or defended that war.

To cope with the financial crisis, he turned to Messrs. Geithner, Summers and Bernanke, who were involved in fomenting the crisis. To launch reform of medical care, he huddled with the American Medical Association, big pharmaceutical companies and insurance firms, and announced that his effort had their backing (the best position to be in for stabbing purposes, which they did month after month). All these things speak to Obama’s concern with continuity and placation. But continuity easily turns into inertia, as we found when Obama wasted the first year of his term, the optimum time for getting things done. He may have drunk his own Kool-Aid — believing that his election could of itself usher in a post-racial, post-partisan, post-red-state and blue-state era. That is a change no one should ever have believed in. The price of winningness can be losing; and that, in this scary time, is enough to break the heart of hope.

4 thoughts on “The Bridge

  1. Amazing, Wills invents a theory, placation, based on almost nothing and builds a whole explanation, that makes little sense, for a president who talks rather than does. Obama reaction to Hillary’s victories in the primaries was not placation. He invented racism and stuck it, with help of the Repubs and MSM, to a blameless couple. No surprise that the Repubs call him a socialist, this is what he did.

    Obama has such a short history in politics before the senate stint, that the only theory about it is empty.

  2. Why would Obama’s attacks on the Clintons, labeling them racists, lead to anyone thinking he was a socialist?

    He’s a manipulator, charming conman, bamboozler. And as that he is very Repub-like: They excel at projection, trying to paint their opposition with all their own worst traits. Obama went on and on about Hillary’s rope-a-dope tactics, but he was the one doing it all along. He would occasionally say something to hint at, to suggest, he might not be all that his speeches suggested, but, on the whole, he was invested in allowing the public to paint him as they wanted him to be. It was how he got votes.

Comments are closed.