Obama a Centrist?

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I have long had that impression, in spite of his obligatory shilling for the Democratic Party and its candidates. Clarence Page thinks so too (at RealClearPolitics, reprinted from the Chicago Tribune), even as the junior Senator from Illinois is “mightily adept at pleasing the party’s liberal-progressive base.” “I think there’s a hunger right now for Americans to come together,” Obama told a reporter in the midst of this most at-each-other’s-throats season. He’s also an optimist, always a good selling point in circumstantially down-in-the-mouth but congenitally upbeat America; his forthcoming book (Crown, October 17) is shrewdly titled The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. (I’ve decided to use the blog to get me to read more — books, I mean — and this is one of the books I will read and review. Another is that “objective” history of Israel and Palestine that was mentioned in the comments somewhere during the Lebanon war.)

If, rather than simply buying Obama’s appealing presentation at face value, we pretend to be sophisticated and cynical and look at it as a smart politician’s selling strategy, it’s still encouraging. It means this particular smart politician is betting long-term on a backlash of revulsion against partisan warfare and a resurgence of the center.

Note: Obama’s book has not been released yet, but in pre-orders alone it’s #2,930 on Amazon today.

UPDATE: Booker Rising has a link to John McWhorter in the NY Sun, who argues that Obama’s main appeal is that he’s black — but not too black. In the comments at Booker, an interesting discussion breaks out over whether Obama did himself some good with the black community by marrying a dark-skinned woman.