Friday, November 28, 2008


As much as I liked Dreams from my Father, I think The Audacity of Hope is even better. An American politician in the mainstream talking (relatively) straight about our role in Indonesia's late-60s bloodbaths? An inspiring rhetoritician who never resorts to ad hominem attack or vacuous appeals to authority? A guy who writes about fatherhood and family values without making me want to puke?

I'm more convinced than ever that we elected the right man, and I write that even though this book proves without doubt that Barack Obama is politically and socially far more conservative than I. Still--his thoughtfulness, his pragmatism, and his powerful sense of empathy make me willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when we disagree.

And I'll say it again: the guy can write. I get pleasure just from his prose style. He's thoughtful, cautious, and can sum up thorny problems with elegance. Here's how he handles my current number-one concern:

It's not a question we ask ourselves enough, I think; as a country we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit. We wouldn't tolerate schools that don't teach, that are chronically underfunded, understaffed, and underinspired, if we thought that the children in them were like our children.

I totally agree the problem is as basic as that, and I believe more than ever that Obama was elected to restore our sense of civic duty to one another. The Audacity of Hope contains a wonderful chapter on race, and has charming portraits of Senate elders resonate with a keen perception of character and delivered with folksy charm. Throughout Obama is self-deprecating and full of love for his country and its denizens of all stripes--racial, religious, political, etc. Only someone with a deep knowledge of our history could so easily put his own struggles and achievements and thoughts into the context of our current political landscape. Definitely worth a read, especially after 8 years laboring under a president who can barely read books, let alone write them.


fernie said...

Oh please! I just went and threw up all my food I ate at your house.

Nyarlathotep said...

I'm glad conservatives don't need to read or think about things in order to be disgusted by them. Thoughts don't matter--facts don't matter--only how people talk and look is enough to make judgments.