Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wills on Remnick on Obama

New Yorker editor David Remnick's new biography of Obama, The Bridge: The Life & Rise of Barack Obama (2010) (just released) is reviewed in the NYT by Garry Wills. Remnick's Lenin's Tomb is an excellent book on the collapse of the Soviet Union that I enjoyed very much, and the New Yorker probably still has the best writers in its stable as any magazine—print or electronic—in the world, so all of that speaks well for Remnick's credentials. As for Wills, the author of Nixon Agonistes (a great book), Reagan's America, The Kennedy Imprisonment, as well as other biographical pieces, we have a writer who has considered and understood American political leaders in a way that very few can match. This combination makes for a very worthwhile review. Wills, in his typical way, finds the irony in Obama's traits that brought him to the top (such as conciliator) but which may prove his undoing (or at least great limitation) as president. Read it and come to your own conclusion. I see Wills' point, but I remain hopeful that Obama's capacity for change and adjustment may seem him through to further successes. If Obama can take himself beyond what got him there, he has the potential to become a great president.