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Obama As Reagan, Take Two

I'm not sure how many of you have seen the latest print issue of National Review, but I think it's pretty telling, in a somewhat unintentional way. The cover image is a not-especially flattering photo of Hillary flanked by Bill, above the headline: "Please Nominate this Woman Couple." Then, just below that, is a smaller headline to another piece, which reads, "No, Nominate Obama--Seriously."

The thought I had when I saw this was: "Okay, the cover story explains why Hillary would be an easier candidate to beat in the general, and then they have a smaller piece arguing the opposite--that Obama would be the better match-up." But then I turned to the actual Obama article (seemed less familiar) and discovered that my interpretation of the second cover-line was completely wrong. The author, John O'Sullivan, doesn't argue that Obama would be easier to beat. He argues that both Obama and Hillary are very likely to win in November. And that, given this likelihood, he'd much rather have Obama as the nominee than Hillary. (It's actually a pretty interesting piece--well worth your time, though I don't think it's available free online.)

It struck me as kind of a telling window onto the conservative psyche at this point...

P.S. One of the arguments O'Sullivan makes is the following:

[T]he mere fact of an Obama presidency would change America and the world's view of America--just as the mere fact of a Polish Pope undermined Soviet rule in Eastern Europe. It would demonstrate that the promise of America--of opportunity for everyone--is real and being progressively realized. It would undermine anti-Americanism abroad and the querulous politics of racial grievance at home. It would give Americans a better opinon of themselves, rather as Reagan did, and perhaps launch U.S. politics on a new trajectory.

You often hear a version of this same argument from Obama's liberal supporters of course, and, as a result, it's easy to forget that there's a strain of conservatism (some would just call it "conservatism," at least as practiced by Reagan and to some exent Bush) that's very much preoccupied with symbolism. And not in a trivial way, but as part of an idealistic belief in the importance of projecting our values abroad. I guess it's not surprising that these conversatives would be favorably disposed to Obama. Or at least to the idea of an Obama presidency...

--Noam Scheiber