James Forsyth James Forsyth

A time for choosing for Obama

To my mind, no commentator has better understood Obama and what he represents than David Brooks which makes Brooks’ column today particularly interesting. Here’s the key question that he poses:

“Barack Obama is a potentially transformational figure. In political style and intellectual outlook, he is unlike anything that has come before. On matters of policy substance, however, he’s been pretty conventional. The policies he offered during the campaign matched those of just about every other Democrat.

So an important question for the Obama presidency is this: Will his transformational style eventually lead to transformational policies, or will his conventional policies eventually force him to shelve his transformational style?” Brooks goes onto say, rightly, that Obama faces a moment of decision over the stimulus. He can either pass it on a pretty much party-line vote in the Senate as well as the House, maybe picking off the odd Republican or two with funding for special projects. Or, he can go and tell the Democrats’ Congressional leadership that it is a new time in Washington and that he wants a focused bill that draws on the best ideas from both sides of the aisles. The course he takes will determine the tone and the opportunities of the next four years.

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