Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama on Niebuhr

Fifteen months ago I found out that Barack Obama was not only familiar with Reinhold Niebuhr but held him in high esteem. I blogged about it the time with a few remarks of my own. I'm leaving it archived where it now is, but here is a link if anyone is interested. I'm vain enough to think what I said is worth revisiting.

Well-read politicians are not remarkable. Reading and talking is what they do. It is the main part of their job description. But most politicians read and study to salt away information to advance a political agenda. They not only have to know what they like, they also have to know all the details of ideas they oppose in order to defeat or compromise them in the political arena.

Few read for introspection. Introspection is an alien impulse for most leaders. In their formative years, of course, all have to figure out what they believe about this or than in order to get their sea legs on the ship of leadership. Most biographies of great leaders catalog their intellectual underpinnings as they began a rise to the top.

At the time I was writing his chances of winning the nomination looked poor. It's now in the bag, which is another reason I'm leaving the original post in place. I urge newcomers to the Obama phenomenon to take a look.

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