Reading Obama

Reading Obama

Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition

Book - 2010
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Derided by the Right as dangerous and by the Left as spineless, Barack Obama puzzles observers. In Reading Obama , James T. Kloppenberg reveals the sources of Obama's ideas and explains why his principled aversion to absolutes does not fit contemporary partisan categories. Obama's commitments to deliberation and experimentation derive from sustained engagement with American democratic thought. Reading Obama traces the origins of his ideas and establishes him as the most penetrating political thinker elected to the presidency in the past century.

Kloppenberg demonstrates the influences that have shaped Obama's distinctive worldview, including Nietzsche and Niebuhr, Ellison and Rawls, and recent theorists engaged in debates about feminism, critical race theory, and cultural norms. Examining Obama's views on the Constitution, slavery and the Civil War, the New Deal, and the civil rights movement, Kloppenberg shows Obama's sophisticated understanding of American history. Obama's interest in compromise, reasoned public debate, and the patient nurturing of civility is a sign of strength, not weakness, Kloppenberg argues. He locates its roots in Madison, Lincoln, and especially in the philosophical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, which nourished generations of American progressives, black and white, female and male, through much of the twentieth century, albeit with mixed results.

Reading Obama reveals the sources of Obama's commitment to democratic deliberation: the books he has read, the visionaries who have inspired him, the social movements and personal struggles that have shaped his thinking. Kloppenberg shows that Obama's positions on social justice, religion, race, family, and America's role in the world do not stem from a desire to please everyone but from deeply rooted--although currently unfashionable--convictions about how a democracy must deal with difference and conflict.

Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2010
ISBN: 9780691147468
0691147469
Branch Call Number: 973.932092 KLOPPENBERG
Characteristics: xviii, 302 p. ; 23 cm

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StarGladiator
Jun 03, 2016

Oh, heaven help us! There's always somebody from Harvard explaining to us little people why our jobs must be offshored, or why our president thinks in such a sophisticated fashion - - yet somehow these same cocky nimrods don't seem to know that Obama's mom's last employer was Development Alternatives, Inc., a CIA front organization, or that his first several appointments, Timothy Geithner, had a father at another CIA front organization who awarded foundation grants to Obama's Mom to study in Indonesia during the overthrow of Sukarno [instigated by the CIA], a most bloody period for the people there, or that another appointment, Diana Farrell [queen of jobs offshoring at McKinsey], had several parents also in the CIA, and that Obama reappointed Robert Swan Mueller III as FBI director, grandnephew of one of the three fired top CIA people - - fired by President Kennedy - - Richard Bissell, CIA's deputy director of plans, and that Mueller's wife's maiden name is Cabell [one of the other two fired CIA types was Gen. Charles Cabell], et cetera, et cetera.
Yup, the president's thinking is all soooooo sophisticated so that we little people require another Harvard stooge to explain everything to us poor devils - - everything but the truth!
[Now, will every college graduate please ponder this clown author's thesis: that because of what one studied in college, one must robotically and maniacally adhere to it! As if everybody recalls every tediously boring book studied in school, for cripes' sakes!]

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floy
Feb 15, 2012

Although other books have attributed Obama's tendency toward compromise to either the necessity of politics or to his own personality/psychology, this book shows how consistent such behavior is with the political and legal philosophies he read about and talked about in his classes in college and beyond. In other words, he's compromising because he truly believes that a democracy mandates compromise. The author is extremely detailed about the theories & theorists Obama studied in college, both as an undergrad and as a law student. It is so detailed that I confess, I grew a bit tired of it and didn't finish the book. However it is a scholarly book, well-researched, and with its heart in the right place. The author obviously respects President Obama a great deal.

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