Friday, December 11, 2009

It seems our President is an Augustinian Democrat

This morning's speech by President Obama struck me as being the most Augustinian speech by an American politician that I've seen in my lifetime. It did confirm what I had suspected all along: That he was more moderate than either his most liberal supporters or his most conservative detractors thought. His acknowledgment of our fallen human condition, though not expressed in explicitly Christian terms, nonetheless shows that he understands that the hyper idealism that drives many on the left is not what shapes his understanding. Again, he's not the pacifist that either his most left-ward supporters had hoped or the hard right had feared and, I believe, secretly wished for too. The hard right, just like the hard left, both have an overly idealized vision of the world in which they each have the secret "key" to understand everything. This causes them both to see everything in starkly black and white, Manichean terms and also causes them to see the political "other" as an eternal enemy to be stopped at every turn. Thus, when I read or watch the far right in their interaction with Obama, they want him to be as far left as possible. This theme, or meme, gives energy to their cause. Anything that contradicts this is either ignored or seen as being one more example of his dastardly plan. It's typical conspiratorial thinking that predominates in the extremes of the left and right.
Well, this is turning into a post more about Obama's critics than about him. Suffice it to say I was very impressed by his speech today. It illustrated a nuanced understanding of the human condition that has been largely absent in most political discourse. If this speech reflects even a part of who the President is, than I'm very glad he's the man God has placed in power at this dangerous and troubling time. A realist with idealistic aspirations is not a bad combination.

1 comment:

povertyhill said...

i like much of what i heard of the speech; what i didn't hear apparently includes some trust in Progress (cap P), which is a type idealism unwelcome at my house. and what the heck does "“Let us reach for the world that ought to be,” he said, “that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.”" mean?!? as j. bottum of 1st things said last nite on the newshour, there appears to be some serious philosophical incoherence here...