Posts Tagged ‘David Bromwich’

USA | David Bromwich har skrivet en essay om Barack Obama som nog får anses vara en av de bästa om presidentens politik så här långt.

Harper's Magazine - June 2015

“One of the least controversial things you can say about Barack Obama is that he campaigned better than he has governed”, skriver professor Bromwich.

Obama har under sin tid i Vita huset, enligt Bromwich, valt att följa ”minsta möjliga motståndets väg” så fort en konflikt uppstått på både det utrikespolitiska som på det inrikespolitiska området.

Bromwich skriver i Harper’s Magazine:

Any summing-up of the Obama presidency is sure to find a major obstacle in the elusiveness of the man. He has spoken more words, perhaps, than any other president; but to an unusual extent, his words and actions float free of each other. He talks with unnerving ease on both sides of an issue: about the desirability, for example, of continuing large-scale investment in fossil fuels. Anyone who voted twice for Obama and was baffled twice by what followed — there must be millions of us — will feel that this president deserves a kind of criticism he has seldom received. Yet we are held back by an admonitory intuition. His predecessor was worse, and his successor most likely will also be worse.


In March 2015, in the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession. It is one thing to know about yourself that in the gravest matters you follow the path of least resistance. It is another thing to say so in public. Obama was affirming that for him there could not possibly be a question of following the path of courageous resistance.


During Obama’s first year in office, the string of departures from his own stated policy showed the want of connection between his promises and his preparation to lead. The weakness was built-in to the rapid rise that carried him from his late twenties through his early forties. His appreciative, dazzled, and grateful mentors always took the word for the deed. They made the allowance because he cut a brilliant figure. Obama’s ascent was achieved too easily to be answerable for the requirement of performing much. This held true in law school, where he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review without an article to his name, and again in his three terms as an Illinois state senator, where he logged an uncommonly high proportion of noncommittal “present” votes rather than “ayes” or “nays.” Careless journalists have assumed that his time of real commitment goes further back, to his three years as a community organizer in Chicago. But even in that role, Obama was averse to conflict. He was never observed at a scene of disorder, and he had no enemies among the people of importance in the city.

He came to the presidency, then, without having made a notable sacrifice for his views. Difficulty, however—the kind of difficulty Obama steered clear of—can be a sound instructor. Stake out a lonely position and it sharpens the outline of your beliefs. When the action that backs the words is revealed with all its imperfections, the sacrifice will tell the audience something definite and interesting about the actor himself. Barack Obama entered the presidency as an unformed actor in politics.

In responding to the opportunities of his first years in office, Obama displayed the political equivalent of dead nerve endings.

Mer: Lyssna på en längre intervju med David Bromwich på KERA med anledning av hans essay i Harper’s.

Tidskriftsomslag: Harper’s Magazine, juni 2015.

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