Thursday, April 26, 2007

Obama, Gospel and Verse

Wow...  Think for a moment how our current President would answer this question (a blank stare), or how Hillary would (I honestly don't know, but not like this):

Out of the blue I asked, "Have you ever read Reinhold Niebuhr?"

Obama's tone changed. "I love him. He's one of my favorite philosophers."

So I asked, What do you take away from him?

"I take away," Obama answered in a rush of words, "the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ... the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism."

I suppose Brooks is right that some might think this is vacuous, but I sure don't:
When I asked him to articulate the central doctrine of his foreign policy, he said, "The single objective of keeping America safe is best served when people in other nations are secure and feel invested."

That's either profound or vacuous, depending on your point of view.

April 26, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Obama, Gospel and Verse

Sometimes you take a shot.

Yesterday evening I was interviewing Barack Obama and we were talking about effective foreign aid programs in Africa. His voice was measured and fatigued, and he was taking those little pauses candidates take when they're afraid of saying something that might hurt them later on.

Out of the blue I asked, "Have you ever read Reinhold Niebuhr?"


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