Question for Obama

Congratulations to Barack Obama for apparently beating the Clinton machine and apparently becoming the Democratic presidential nominee. But here is a question: You are promising to usher in a national unity, post-partisan regime. So what bone are you going to throw to conservatives? How are you in any way different from just a regular liberal?

I asked this of an Obama supporter that I am related to, and he said, after thinking for awhile, “Well, he isn’t going to demonize you so much.” Uh, that would be nice, but is there anything else? “His foreign policy,” the point being that traditional conservatives are not so interventionist and nation-building as the Bush administration has been and that Obama would return to that more conservative model.

Can anyone else offer a picture of what a post-partisan administration might look like? Or is this mere rhetoric or, more dangerously, the promise of a cult of personality in which the nation is unified by its devotion to a charismatic leader?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I think both Obama and the media are naive, if not disingenuous, to believe that this affair between the two of them would last long into an Obama administration.
    In time, his enthralled reporters would have to ‘fess up to his gaffes and his inexperience (often outright ignorance), if not the true nature of his politics. They’d stop covering for him once his errors exceeded his rhetoric-to-the-contrary.
    Ask Hillary Clinton how fast they turn around.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I think both Obama and the media are naive, if not disingenuous, to believe that this affair between the two of them would last long into an Obama administration.
    In time, his enthralled reporters would have to ‘fess up to his gaffes and his inexperience (often outright ignorance), if not the true nature of his politics. They’d stop covering for him once his errors exceeded his rhetoric-to-the-contrary.
    Ask Hillary Clinton how fast they turn around.

  • Anne of Green Gables

    All that comes to mind is the novel “1984″ by George Orwell. To be partisan means that people take sides. I think to be “post-partisan” would mean that the time for partisanship is past, and there are no longer “sides” to be taken because everyone is in agreement. How could this possibly be accomplished? Orwell imagined one way through his invention of Newspeak. (How can citizens disagree if there are no words with which to formulate disagreeable thoughts?)

  • Anne of Green Gables

    All that comes to mind is the novel “1984″ by George Orwell. To be partisan means that people take sides. I think to be “post-partisan” would mean that the time for partisanship is past, and there are no longer “sides” to be taken because everyone is in agreement. How could this possibly be accomplished? Orwell imagined one way through his invention of Newspeak. (How can citizens disagree if there are no words with which to formulate disagreeable thoughts?)

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    It seems to me that for Obama, partisanship actually means race. When he talks about bringing us together, he means black and white. Ideas don’t come into it at all. Chances are that, as a postmodernist, he considers ideas and principles merely emanations of basic racial attitudes.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    It seems to me that for Obama, partisanship actually means race. When he talks about bringing us together, he means black and white. Ideas don’t come into it at all. Chances are that, as a postmodernist, he considers ideas and principles merely emanations of basic racial attitudes.

  • Carl Vehse

    Powerlineblog’s “Obama gets whiplash” has a good question:
    Can someone explain why it is, exactly, that Barack Obama is not a laughingstock?

  • Carl Vehse

    Powerlineblog’s “Obama gets whiplash” has a good question:
    Can someone explain why it is, exactly, that Barack Obama is not a laughingstock?

  • Geremy

    One way to remove partisanship is to remove those who disagree with you. He’s already told us what we can and can’t say about him, his wife, his acquaintances, his pastor—I can only imagine the list gets longer if he actually won the presidency and the punishments would be greater, especially if his liberal friends also gain larger control of both houses of congress.

  • Geremy

    One way to remove partisanship is to remove those who disagree with you. He’s already told us what we can and can’t say about him, his wife, his acquaintances, his pastor—I can only imagine the list gets longer if he actually won the presidency and the punishments would be greater, especially if his liberal friends also gain larger control of both houses of congress.

  • Anon

    Worst case scenario(tm) time:

    Barak Hussein Obama is of the Dailey Chicago Machine. He is not the naive innocent he portrays himself as being.

    His ideas are of a draconian government dictating what we may drive and even our food portion sizes.

    He has promised to force homosexual ‘marriage’ on America.

    In the WCS, you could see Christian schools and homeschooling outlawed under Patriot Act provisions, and pastors sent to prison under hate crimes laws – those pastors who have the backbone to preach the whole counsel of God, including regarding homosexuality, and who refuse to perform the sacrilege of homosexual ‘marriage.’ Those pastors who compromise will likely be let alone.

  • Anon

    Worst case scenario(tm) time:

    Barak Hussein Obama is of the Dailey Chicago Machine. He is not the naive innocent he portrays himself as being.

    His ideas are of a draconian government dictating what we may drive and even our food portion sizes.

    He has promised to force homosexual ‘marriage’ on America.

    In the WCS, you could see Christian schools and homeschooling outlawed under Patriot Act provisions, and pastors sent to prison under hate crimes laws – those pastors who have the backbone to preach the whole counsel of God, including regarding homosexuality, and who refuse to perform the sacrilege of homosexual ‘marriage.’ Those pastors who compromise will likely be let alone.

  • Bruce

    The best construction I can put on Obama, in my most optimistic mood, is to think of him as a black Jimmy Carter, who will eventually see the MSM turn on him as they did on Carter, and who will fumble his way through four long years of economic stagnation.

    In my more pessimistic moods? What they said above, maybe worse.

    As to “what a post-partisan administration might look like”, who in a federal republic would want such a thing? And how long would it last? We have a partisan form of government, and it protects us from our more base instincts, both sides of the aisle, so to speak. I glory in the food-fight of Small R republican politics. Three branches of government all looking over each other’s shoulders is sheer brilliance. I want an administration that will do its job as one third of the balance.

  • Bruce

    The best construction I can put on Obama, in my most optimistic mood, is to think of him as a black Jimmy Carter, who will eventually see the MSM turn on him as they did on Carter, and who will fumble his way through four long years of economic stagnation.

    In my more pessimistic moods? What they said above, maybe worse.

    As to “what a post-partisan administration might look like”, who in a federal republic would want such a thing? And how long would it last? We have a partisan form of government, and it protects us from our more base instincts, both sides of the aisle, so to speak. I glory in the food-fight of Small R republican politics. Three branches of government all looking over each other’s shoulders is sheer brilliance. I want an administration that will do its job as one third of the balance.

  • fw

    not post partisanship exactly.

    I think his aim is actually the exactly christian ideal of a civil public discourse that is honest (no mischaracterizations, sincere apologies where needed….) and not ad-homen attacks .

    These are the standards that we in fact I assume try to live by here on this blog in our comments. Please call me on anywhere where I come up short by the way here….

    out of that I think that he hopes that real issues will be discussed in a way that looks for common ground rather than in a way that comes up with a few buzz words that shock and distract and label complex things in simplistic ways. I would like to believe that we americans have FAR more common ground than we have things that separate us. I can see this from afar. distance helps. I live in brasil now. we as americans, look far more unified from the outside looking in. This is a really good thing!

    on Senator Obama´s website his discussion on faith and government is an excellent place to see how he frames issues whether one agrees with the points he makes or not, the basic approach is explicitly and completely a christian one ethically. His thought processes and how he works through important issues is something important to consider for this candidate and all others. Obama presents more detail than McCain in this respect on his web site.

  • fw

    not post partisanship exactly.

    I think his aim is actually the exactly christian ideal of a civil public discourse that is honest (no mischaracterizations, sincere apologies where needed….) and not ad-homen attacks .

    These are the standards that we in fact I assume try to live by here on this blog in our comments. Please call me on anywhere where I come up short by the way here….

    out of that I think that he hopes that real issues will be discussed in a way that looks for common ground rather than in a way that comes up with a few buzz words that shock and distract and label complex things in simplistic ways. I would like to believe that we americans have FAR more common ground than we have things that separate us. I can see this from afar. distance helps. I live in brasil now. we as americans, look far more unified from the outside looking in. This is a really good thing!

    on Senator Obama´s website his discussion on faith and government is an excellent place to see how he frames issues whether one agrees with the points he makes or not, the basic approach is explicitly and completely a christian one ethically. His thought processes and how he works through important issues is something important to consider for this candidate and all others. Obama presents more detail than McCain in this respect on his web site.

  • fw

    curiosity:

    can anyone identify with a site where Obama has mischaracterized the position of his opponents and not followed with an apology or clarification?

    can anyone identify where Obama has made an ad homen attack on clinton or mcCain or edwards or his other competition?

    I would be very interested to see this.

    I already see where McCain has mischaracterized Obama´s willingness to use diplomacy. Mc Cain is a better man than that. I am surprised.

    Check out this clip by James Baker, former sec of state for G Bush I. He is pretty insistent on fox news that diplomacy and willingness to talk to enemies does not equal appeasement. This is a good example of the old attack politics that Obama wants to avoid even while he confesses that he has been himself complicit in the past.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2008/05/you_dont_just_talk_to_your_fri.cfm

  • fw

    curiosity:

    can anyone identify with a site where Obama has mischaracterized the position of his opponents and not followed with an apology or clarification?

    can anyone identify where Obama has made an ad homen attack on clinton or mcCain or edwards or his other competition?

    I would be very interested to see this.

    I already see where McCain has mischaracterized Obama´s willingness to use diplomacy. Mc Cain is a better man than that. I am surprised.

    Check out this clip by James Baker, former sec of state for G Bush I. He is pretty insistent on fox news that diplomacy and willingness to talk to enemies does not equal appeasement. This is a good example of the old attack politics that Obama wants to avoid even while he confesses that he has been himself complicit in the past.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2008/05/you_dont_just_talk_to_your_fri.cfm

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree with Bruce above. What a Lutheran hope for politics you have. Limited ability to do anything in any sphere is my pure hope for every politician. Our choices all around suck big-time for president! Whoever gets elected will hopefully make huge mistakes and get lost in the paperwork.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree with Bruce above. What a Lutheran hope for politics you have. Limited ability to do anything in any sphere is my pure hope for every politician. Our choices all around suck big-time for president! Whoever gets elected will hopefully make huge mistakes and get lost in the paperwork.

  • Don S

    I, too, agree heartily with Bruce. Tension in government, as in books and movies, is a good thing! Whenever government takes an action (unless it is de-regulating or reducing taxes, an unfortunately extremely rare event), it is necessarily reducing someone’s liberty and likely acting unconstitutionally (meaning outside of its enumerated limited responsibilities under the Constitution). Checks and balances between the governmental branches, and partisanship between the two major political parties, prevents much mischief.

    “Post-partisanship” appears to mean, to most liberals/democrats, that Republicans give up and let them rule. “We can all agree, as long as you agree with me”.

  • Don S

    I, too, agree heartily with Bruce. Tension in government, as in books and movies, is a good thing! Whenever government takes an action (unless it is de-regulating or reducing taxes, an unfortunately extremely rare event), it is necessarily reducing someone’s liberty and likely acting unconstitutionally (meaning outside of its enumerated limited responsibilities under the Constitution). Checks and balances between the governmental branches, and partisanship between the two major political parties, prevents much mischief.

    “Post-partisanship” appears to mean, to most liberals/democrats, that Republicans give up and let them rule. “We can all agree, as long as you agree with me”.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@11), sure. Only to “liberals/Democrats”. Right.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@11), sure. Only to “liberals/Democrats”. Right.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    We’re post-partisan for the most part out here in Utah, and let me tell you it is no political paradise (or spiritual either). We are so united with the Religious Right on policy out here that its scary. It really hurts the clear proclamation of Law and Gospel, too.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    We’re post-partisan for the most part out here in Utah, and let me tell you it is no political paradise (or spiritual either). We are so united with the Religious Right on policy out here that its scary. It really hurts the clear proclamation of Law and Gospel, too.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 12, it is largely liberals/democrats who argue that we should be “post-partisan”. Post-partisanship equates to relativism, which is not a conservative viewpoint.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 12, it is largely liberals/democrats who argue that we should be “post-partisan”. Post-partisanship equates to relativism, which is not a conservative viewpoint.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S, (@14) “I’m a uniter, not a divider”.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S, (@14) “I’m a uniter, not a divider”.

  • Richard Lewer

    Most of the things that the candidates promise are things that are the province of the Congress and not of the President. If they are really serious about their promises, why don’t they just stay in Congress?

    Or to put in another way – since they are all in Congress and they are such great leaders, why haven’t they already gotten it done?

  • Richard Lewer

    Most of the things that the candidates promise are things that are the province of the Congress and not of the President. If they are really serious about their promises, why don’t they just stay in Congress?

    Or to put in another way – since they are all in Congress and they are such great leaders, why haven’t they already gotten it done?

  • Don S

    tODD, you prove my point. Bush has actually been quite a liberal president and has met liberals more than halfway on many, many domestic big government programs. But……democrats are only interested in post-partisan unity if they’re the ones running it. They will demonize all republicans to the end of time, no matter how moderate or reasonable he/she may be. Look what they’re doing to McCain! Amazing to me.

  • Don S

    tODD, you prove my point. Bush has actually been quite a liberal president and has met liberals more than halfway on many, many domestic big government programs. But……democrats are only interested in post-partisan unity if they’re the ones running it. They will demonize all republicans to the end of time, no matter how moderate or reasonable he/she may be. Look what they’re doing to McCain! Amazing to me.


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