David Brooks: Run, Barack, Run

David Brooks, who rarely has a good word to say about a Democrat, is calling for Barack Obama to run for President in 2008:

Obama’s inexperience is his most obvious shortcoming. Over the next four years, the world could face a genocidal civil war in Iraq, a wave of nuclear proliferation, more Islamic extremism and a demagogues’ revolt against globalization. Do we really want a forty-something in the White House?

And yet in his new book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama makes a strong counterargument. He notes that it’s time to move beyond the political style of the baby boom generation. This is a style, he said in an interview late Tuesday, that is highly moralistic and personal, dividing people between who is good and who is bad.

Of course there’s the obligatory unsubstantiated insult of Democrats in the column:

Obama himself has a mentality formed by globalization, not the S.D.S. With his multiethnic family and his globe-spanning childhood, there is a little piece of everything in Obama. He is perpetually engaged in an internal discussion between different pieces of his hybrid self — Kenya with Harvard, Kansas with the South Side of Chicago — and he takes that conversation outward into the world.

How many had their “mentality formed” by the S.D.S.? Considering that it is the Republicans who are controlled by the extremists on their side of the political spectrum, it makes little sense to continue his common false claims that Democrats are related to the extremists on the left who have little to do with the Democratic Party. At least he has more favorable to say about Obama:

He has a compulsive tendency to see both sides of any issue. Joe Klein of Time counted 50 instances of extremely judicious on-the-one-hand-on the-other-hand formulations in the book. He seems like the guy who spends his first 15 minutes at a restaurant debating the relative merits of fish versus meat.

And yet this style is surely the antidote to the politics of the past several years. It is surely true that a president who brings a deliberative style to the White House will multiply his knowledge, not divide it.

During our talk, I reminded Obama that at some level politics is about power, not conversation. He pointed out that he’d risen from nothing to national prominence in a few years so he knew something about acquiring power, but he kept returning to his mode, which is conversation, deliberation and reconciliation.

Update: A common response to this column in the liberal blogoshere has been to argue against nominating Obama because people like David Brooks and Joe Klein are pushing him. While Obama has neither the experience or clearly stated positions to get my attention as a credible candidate yet, I do not agree with the counter-Brooks/Klein argument. Their opinion on a potential candidate does not alter my position either way. Any judgement of the quality of a candidate should be done based upon the person, not on what a couple of columnists have to say, pro or con. While I do not see Obama as Presidential material yet, we may have an interesting Warner vs. Obama race for the second spot on the ticket.

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