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David Latt

David Latt

Posted: November 23, 2008 02:50 PM

Pundits, Get Used to It, Obama's Ahead of the Curve


During the Cold War, pundits who wanted to sound knowledgeable about the leadership of the Soviet Union waited breathlessly for the Kremlin's May Day Parade in Red Square. Then they could analyze the photographs of the reviewing stand where all the political and military leaders stood as the parade of mobile weapons and brigades of soldiers marched by. In hopes of figuring out what the Soviet Union would do in the coming year, they analyzed nuances: new medals on the chests of military officers, which political leaders stood next to one another, or who was absent from that year's parade.

We're experiencing our own May Day Parade punditry as the media speculates about the incoming Obama Presidency. In Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room, on the op-ed pages of every newspaper in the country, on the Nightly News, and on the internet, the hints and leaks from the Obama transition team are seized upon like scraps falling from the table. Each tiny morsel is turned into a meal as Democratic and Republican pundits are asked to explain what this or that could mean in an Obama Presidency.

Was picking Hilary Clinton for Secretary of State a good or a bad choice for Obama? Is he relying too much on Clinton veterans? Will he be too centrist for his leftist supporters? And on and on and on. Some commentators like David Brooks, once shrilly partisan, have now struck a more positive, hopeful note, but they have no more to go on than anyone else. David Brooks analyzes the college credentials of Obama's prospective Cabinet members hoping to make something out of their Harvard-Yale affiliation.

Ultimately even though the pundits chatter like their Kremlinologist brethren decades ago, they will just have to wait until President Obama works things out.

What comes across about Barack Obama so far is that he is a pragmatic visionary. He doesn't appear to be an ideologue as was his predecessor. Unlike George W. Bush, he has seemingly rejected governance by fiat and presumption. By his YouTube addresses and his friendly interactions with the press, he has sent a signal that he wants to be a President who will lead by engaging the public and the press. He has said repeatedly that in his pursuit of practical solutions, he needs everyone's help if America is going to achieve a visionary transformation and move past these current crises.

I would say all this definitively, based on my analyses of his 60 Minutes interview, but I don't want to be accused of being an Obamaologist.

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