Thursday, November 17, 2011

QT: Drew Weston Again on Obama

I don't want to belabor a point, but I think that Drew Weston has again found a serious weakness in President Obama's decision-making regime. One senses a lack of strong, forceful leadership from the president. My hopes were buoyed by his adoption of a new stimulus program to go to Congress, but everything seems to be languishing. I do believe that the American electorate, as it so often does, foisted its hopes onto Obama in a way that he never justified, nor did he discourage. Indeed, every politician has to hope for such a magical time. However, the downside is that difficult decisions need to be made, and those difficult decisions define the decision-maker at each turn. Thus, a blank slate can no longer remain blank, and some hopes can no longer be projected onto that person. Obama is bright and has good instincts, but I share a sense that he lacks the fighting characteristics that made someone like FDR a great president.

Johan Huizinga on History

I'm listening to David Brooks's The Social Animal (quite fun), and he throws in this quote from the great Dutch historian Johan Huizinga about the feeling he received from engaging history:

A feeling of immediate contact with the past is a sensation as deep as the present enjoyment of art; it is an almost ecstatic sensation of no longer being myself, of overflowing into the world around me, of touching the essence of things, of through history experiencing the truth.

In my own modest way, I understand what Huizinga says. The stories of history often engross me, and they have since I was a little guy. Not just "what happened?" but more a matter of "what's going on here?", something deeper than--although dependent on--narrative. Perhaps call it narrative plus. I think great novelists can capture it, and I suspect that great novelists and great historians have much in common (hat tip to John Lukacs). Anyway, an interesting quote (found @ p. 233 of Brooks book).