I can’t believe David Brooks wrote the greatest column on Barack Obama everrrrrrr.

Friday, October 17th, 2008 @ 6:42 pm | Barack Obama, Politics

Well, the best one I can remember. Is it me, or is Brooks having a really hard time wearing his rightwinger hat lately? He tried massaging Sarah Palin after the debate…and apparently went home, looked in the mirror, and hated what he saw. I really have no idea, but I will say that the man, while having peddled some of the stupidest shit in the world over the years, is capable of defying expectations. The scales fall from the eyes:

Some candidates are motivated by something they lack. For L.B.J., it was respect. For Bill Clinton, it was adoration. These politicians are motivated to fill that void. Their challenge once in office is self-regulation. How will they control the demons, insecurities and longings that fired their ambitions?

But other candidates are propelled by what some psychologists call self-efficacy, the placid assumption that they can handle whatever the future throws at them. Candidates in this mold, most heroically F.D.R. and Ronald Reagan, are driven upward by a desire to realize some capacity in their nature. They rise with an unshakable serenity that is inexplicable to their critics and infuriating to their foes.

Obama has the biography of the first group but the personality of the second. He grew up with an absent father and a peripatetic mother. “I learned long ago to distrust my childhood,” he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.” This is supposed to produce a politician with gaping personal needs and hidden wounds.

But over the past two years, Obama has never shown evidence of that. Instead, he has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day.

There has never been a moment when, at least in public, he seems gripped by inner turmoil. It’s not willpower or self-discipline he shows as much as an organized unconscious. Through some deep, bottom-up process, he has developed strategies for equanimity, and now he’s become a homeostasis machine.

Not exactly a soundbite there, but voters know what it is and they like it.

He doesn’t have F.D.R.’s joyful nature or Reagan’s happy outlook, but he is analytical. That’s why this William Ayers business doesn’t stick. He may be liberal, but he is never wild. His family is bourgeois. His instinct is to flee the revolutionary gesture in favor of the six-point plan.

This was not evident back in the “fierce urgency of now” days, but it is now. And it is easy to sketch out a scenario in which he could be a great president. He would be untroubled by self-destructive demons or indiscipline. With that cool manner, he would see reality unfiltered. He could gather — already has gathered — some of the smartest minds in public policy, and, untroubled by intellectual insecurity, he could give them free rein. Though he is young, it is easy to imagine him at the cabinet table, leading a subtle discussion of some long-term problem.

Brooks does pause to imagine how an Obama presidency could fizzle…basically by Obama turning into somebody he isn’t, but concludes as Obama intends him to feel:

We can each guess how the story ends. But over the past two years, Obama has clearly worn well with voters. Far from a celebrity fad, he is self-contained, self-controlled and maybe even a little dull.

This is the sound we have been hearing for a long time from conservatives…real, intellectual conservatives, who appreciate the fact that while Obama is liberal on policy, he is conservative in temperament and intellect. Thus he stands poised to rewrite the narrative on how liberal positions are reached, and who holds them. This is Obama’s power, the power to turn the tide of thinking in America, to allow people who have been conditioned to think they must vote Republican to reconsider what it is they really believe in. He gives conservatives reason to stop hating the man, and truly debate the ideas.

McCain hasn’t gotten that memo yet. Hopefully (DON’TCOUNTYOURGODDAMNCHICKENSYET), he will on Nov. 4th.

-jb

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