Tuesday, May 06, 2008

David Brooks on Clinton and Obama

David Brooks is frustrating. Sometimes, as in this editorial, he is spot-on brilliant in his assessments. Other times he seems like a GOP talking head.

Yesterday he took a good look at Clinton and Obama and what defines each one's political persona.

Combat and Composure

Here is the key quote for me:

This contrast between combat and composure defines the Democratic race. The implicit Clinton argument is that politics is an inherently nasty business. Human nature, as she said Sunday, means that progress comes only through conquest. You’d better elect a leader who can intimidate. You’d better elect someone who has given herself permission to be brutal.

Obama’s campaign grows out of the longstanding reform tradition. His implicit argument is that politics doesn’t have to be this way. Dishonesty and brutality aren’t inevitable; they’re what gets in the way. Obama’s friend and supporter Cass Sunstein described the Obama ideal in The New Republic: “Obama believes that real change usually requires consensus, learning and accommodation.”

That’s regarded as na├»ve drivel in parts of Camp Clinton.

Campaign issues come and go, but this is a thread running through the race. One believes in the raw assertion of power, the other the power of communication.

Like Bush and so many other politicians, Clinton appeals to the basest of human instincts - power and fear. We've had enough of that approach. Or at least I have.

Obama appeals to our better angels - hope and communication. It's a new way of doing things, and I for one would love to give it a chance.

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