Erik Larson

Jan 14, 2009

Obama, Pragmatist?

President Elect Obama had dinner at conservative columnist George Will’s house, where David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Paul Gigot of the WSJ, and other conservative luminaries accompanied him.

On the cable news yack-and-attack today, Obama’s latest “post partisan” move seemed to prompt some crinkled brows from the likes of Hardball’s Chris I’ll-yell-until-you-answer-me Mathews, and Keith Olbermann from Countdown fame (also an occasional, but pretty good, sports analyst for ESPN).

Olbermann in particular made me chuckle a bit, covering this latest from Obama. I think he needed more time to digest, actually, because he seemed to be asking his viewers both “Why didn’t Bush do this?” and “Why in the heck did Obama DO this?”. (In other words, meeting with the opposition is good, and why meet with the opposition?)

Ahh, yes. I think people covering the Hill don’t yet know what to make of Mr. Obama. Pragmatism and a willingness to get past petty partisan quibbles left Washington long ago. Certainly, President Bush’s famous — now notorious — claim to be “a uniter, not a divider” has become the subject of jokes; Washington is more divided now than ever. I’m hopeful that our new President is quietly, pragmatically uniting the country with political skill and intelligence even as the partisans around him continue reading from yesterday’s script. He just might pull it off.