In the Arena

The Presider

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This, from Andrew Sullivan, is a very smart take on the early differences between Obama and his immediate predecessor:

At times, Bush’s indifference to the system around him bordered on a kind of political autism. And so one of the oddest aspects of Bush’s presidency was his tendency to declare things as if merely saying them as president could make them so. The model was clear and dramatically intensified by wartime: the president pronounced; Congress anemically responded; the base rallied… 

Now look at Obama. What the critics misread in his Inaugural was its classical structure. He was not running any more. He was presiding. His job was not to rally vast crowds, but to set the scene for the broader constitutional tableau to come to life. Hence the obvious shock of some Republican Congressman at debating with a president who seemed interested in actual conversation, as opposed to pure politics.

I’ll have more to say about Obama’s first week in office in my print column tomorrow.