Posts Tagged ‘republican’

Sunday Review

31/07/2011, 01:30:31 PM

Revivial: the struggle for survival inside the Obama White House by Richard Wolffe – reviewed by Anthony Painter

The American constitution is a wonderful construct for a nation of reasonable men and women. The problem is that the political representatives who currently populate the nation’s capital are not, in the main, reasonable people. There is an exception to this- the president. But how can you lead as a reasonable man in a political system stacked with checks and balances which allow unreasonable people to obstruct reasonable endeavour?

The answer as Present Obama has discovered since new intake entered Congress in 2011- with Republican control of the House of Representatives- is with enormous difficulty. It is like attempting to lead while restrained in manacles. And despite extreme restraint it is the president who will be called to account for the political madness that is now engulfing Washington as the battle over raising the debt ceiling reaches its insane climax.

Birmingham born Richard Wolffe’s Revival: the struggle for survival inside the Obama White House is the second book about this presidency from the de facto official biographer of the Obama White House. Renegade: the making of a president was the first in a series in which there will surely be more to follow. At the centre of the latest book is a discussion about the revivalist (idealist) instincts of the president versus the survivalist (pragmatic) instincts. I’m not sure that it is much of a spoiler to say that Obama ends up as both. Survival is necessary but not sufficient in the making a great president.

Familiar personalities drift into the story during the early months of 2010 which is the period on which the book concentrates. Those who remain from the campaign such as David Axelrod or return such as David Plouffe tend to embody the president’s revivalist trait while the survivalists tend to be Washington insiders such as Rahm Emmanuel. The president’s first chief of staff gets a bit of a rough ride. One of his colleagues says of Emmanuel: “It’s all tactics and no strategy. That’s something the president feels very strongly he’s missing. How do I get from here to where I want to go?” We are never quite told where that destination is. (more…)

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