Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Politics Of Mush

David Brooks smartly analyzes the difference between Barack Obama’s politics and Hillary Clinton’s, recollecting their very distinct styles at Iowa’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner in November:

But Obama sounded like a cross between a social activist and a flannel-shirted software C.E.O. — as a nonhierarchical, collaborative leader who can inspire autonomous individuals to cooperate for the sake of common concerns. Clinton had sounded like Old Politics, but Obama created a vision of New Politics. And the past several months have revolved around the choice he framed there that night. Some people are enthralled by the New Politics, and we see their vapors every day. Others think it is a mirage and a delusion. There’s only one politics, and, tragically, it’s the old kind, filled with conflict and bad choices.

You do not have to be a fan of Hillary Clinton to say, “How the heck does Obama-speak work in the real world?” It’s nice for ideas to bubble up from below, indeed we have an institutionalized system of such bubbling in America called “federalism” (which I imagine Obama is not too fond of). However, when push comes to shove, presidents have agendas, fight with and cajole Congress, occasionally go over their heads to the public, and eventually settle for what they can get. In all that, there is not much room for people to come together in a nice fuzzy group hug. That is, after all, what elections are for: to debate the issues and, if the race has been focused on real issues, invest the winner with a mandate to take the country in a certain direction.

I may be hopelessly old-fashioned, but after the election there won’t be a lot of space for “autonomous individuals to cooperate for the sake of common concerns.” If the good people of Ohio or Texas can figure this out, more power to them. If there are more people who have a “huh?” reaction, I suspect Hillary Clinton will do just fine.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.