THE SPINE FEBRUARY 18, 2008
You probably remember Leon Wieseltier's Washington Diarist, "Forever Young," in the last issue of TNR. It is about Barack Obama and the avalanche of optimism his campaign has evoked in the American public. This optimism about America seems to have spread to Europe and Africa. "Avalanche" is my word, and it has negative connotations. The truth is, as you can see for yourself, that Leon's skeptical mind is in conflict with both Obama's disposition and his specific view on critical issues. I am not.
Neither is the New York Times' Roger Cohen whose column, "A Realist Called Obama," argues with Leon Wieseltier. But Cohen has to concede, as I do, that Wieseltier is correct that the Obama campaign is "light on fierceness," which is not a slight point. The Timesman also thinks that Obama's pledge to withdraw American troops from Iraq within 16 months is "rash."
Now Leon is not for Clinton, not at all. Still, Hillary Clinton is the anti-Obama. She will benefit at the polls and at the convention from any criticism that takes Obama down. The truth is that she is a cynic and no dreams come from cynics. An American dream is an American imperative.