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Obama As Reagan, Take Three

Another day, another article by a conservative about how Obama reminds them of Reagan. This one's by Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine Law School--a key figure in conservaive legal circles, active in the Federalist Society, etc. (The last piece I flagged appeared in National Review under John O'Sullivan's byline.)

The thing is, I think they're actually onto something. Writes Kmiec:

Now, don't think me daft, but when Obama gave his victory remarks in Iowa calling upon America to "choose hope over fear and to choose unity over division," he was standing squarely in the shoes of the "Great Communicator." Notwithstanding all of Bill Clinton's self-possessed heckling to the contrary, Obama was right--Reagan was a "transformative" president. Reagan liked to tell us he was proudest of his ability to make America feel good about itself. He did. Catholic sensibility tells me Obama wants it to deserve that feeling. …

However hard-working, intelligent, and policy savvy she may be (and she is), Clinton seldom inspires even the so-called "social justice" Catholics or reveals that rare gift of empathy that defined Reagan and that one glimpses in Obama. Say what you will about not preferring style over substance, modern leadership requires both, especially now when the international community—whose help we need to arrest terrorism—seldom gives us the benefit of the doubt.

I do think a lot of voters liked Reagan because he made them feel good about America rather than out of any particular affinity for his policy agenda. Obama seems to inspire similar feelings, even though he comes from a comletely different place ideologically. (Interestingly, both men ran for president after a prolonged period of malaise, which may have created an appetite for these feelings.)

Anyway, I wouldn't underestimate the power of this stuff in a general election.

--Noam Scheiber