POLITICS

Obama The Visionary Minimalist

12/11/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Some public officials are minimalists. They do not like to reject the fundamental commitments of their fellow citizens. On environmental questions, sex equality, national security and economic policy, they try to bracket our deepest disagreements. They seek to obtain a consensus on what to do -- not on why to do it.

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Obama is something new in American politics -- and not just for the obvious reasons. He is a visionary minimalist. This is a key both to his extraordinary campaign and to his unique promise. It even helps explain his conception of public service.

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