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Saturday, February 23, 2008
UPS is hiring:
When John Judis clears his throat, he shows up half the journalists in the country. But when he puts his back into it? Damn.
Looming over all of American history--but particularly the country's formative years--is the Biblical figure of Adam, the only person, according to the West's major religions, to have lived unburdened by what came before him. As literary critic R.W.B. Lewis wrote in 1955, in his wonderful book The American Adam, early generations of Americans became captivated by the idea that they could create a future without reference to the past. The revolutionaries who fought for America's independence saw themselves as breaking not only with the Old World but with history itself. "The case and circumstances of America present themselves as in the beginning of a world," Thomas Paine wrote in 1792. Thomas Jefferson believed the new nation should regularly renew itself, arguing that, if necessary, "[t]he tree of liberty must be refreshed ... with the blood of patriots and tyrants." But, as Lewis explains, it was after the War of 1812--after the United States had finally cut loose from Great Britain and other foreign entanglements--that the notion of a country unbound from the constraints of history really began to take root. Democratic Review--the magazine of a nineteenth-century progressive movement known as Young America--captured this sentiment in 1839, when it editorialized, "[O]ur national birth was the beginning of a new history ... which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only."The piece is about Obama. It's kind of, um, comprehensive.
Judis surprised me by saying he'd be "delighted," if a President Obama were to govern successfully. I really thought Judis was heading toward a more neutral and semi-cynical "surprised." I agree with Judis that a first priority domestic agenda item of ethics reform seems unlikely to inspire a transformational era. While I find it sad that Judis equates FDR and Reagan, if all a President Obama would have to do to surpass Reagan in bringing about the next "revolution" would be the Democratic analogue to slashing marginal tax rates, I'd be very hopeful. Perhaps a Vice President Clinton and her husband could dust off their reinvestment "grow the economy" plans.