Is Obama a Radical or Reconciler?

Or Niebuhrian waffler?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2008 1:11 PM CDT
Barack Obama speaks during a foreign policy meeting in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama may be on the brink of the presidency, but many still wonder whether he’s a closet radical, Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post. He carries a liberal Illinois legislature record, associations with Ayers, Alinsky, Wright, and ACORN, and an “elitist disdain for bitter, God-clinging conservatives,” Gerson notes. But in reality, Obama seems to see himself as “a reconciler of opposites,” and “transcender of stale debates.”

Obama’s had no problem compromising liberal positions or embracing religion, and in the debates “his entire manner douses inflammatory charges of extremism.” Obama says his favorite philosopher is Reinhold Niebuhr, who said man was an “ironic creature,” fallible in his every pursuit. If Obama has a downfall, it may not be extremism, but Niebuhrian waffling. “Sometimes events call for courage and clarity,” Gerson writes, “not a sense of irony.”