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Monday, February 14, 2011

Why another politics blogger?

I have talked with and recieved feedback from some of you. Thanks for reading. As I’ve thought about the blog over the weekend I realize that I need to give more context for what I am trying to do on the blog.

I have titled the blog “Defending Obama” because what really got me to start writing a blog in the first place was a frustration with commentators on the left, and especially on the right, who I believe misunderstand or under-appreciate aspects of Obama’s presidency. I don’t mean this blog as a mindless, automatic defense of Obama, but I do come to this moment in history with a number of commitments and convictions that usually put me on the side of Obama given the political context today. There are three ways that I think my writings about Obama will be different from much that is being written about him.

1)   Awareness of Obama’s engagement with Niebuhr. Because there has been so much controversy over the basic question of “is Obama a Christian?”, the nature of Obama’s Christian reflections have been ignored or underappreciated. I am very much in agreement with David Brooks, who is one of the few national commentators to take seriously the influence of Richard Niebuhr on Obama. Like Obama, Niebuhr does not fit neatly into labels like realist/idealist or American exceptionalism/American decline.

2)   Awareness of Obama’s engagement with Lincoln’s style of politics. While much has been made about the superficial comparisons between Lincoln and Obama, not nearly enough work is being done to compare Obama’s style of governing with Lincoln’s.  While I am not a Lincoln scholar, I am well read in Lincoln and I see a lot more of a relationship between his prudential style of governing and at least Obama’s attempt to lead with prudence.

3)   Awareness of evangelical and Catholic social teachings and a willingness to consider how those teachings overlap with Obama’s policies.

I hope you will stick with this blog over time and give me feedback as I go along.

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