Friday 21 Sep 2018 | 06:47 | SYDNEY
Friday 21 Sep 2018 | 06:47 | SYDNEY

The Reaganism of Barack Obama


Sam Roggeveen


23 July 2009 16:11

I'm writing a review of The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War. It's by James Mann, author of the well-received Rise of the Vulcans, about George W Bush's war cabinet. For now, let's just say I'm far less impressed with this book than was John Roskam from the Institute of Public Affairs.

While doing some background reading for the review, I happened on the following passage from my favourite Reagan biography, Edmund Morris' Dutch. I thought it was rather redolent of Obama:

Since salubrity is an important aspect of American power — we do not like our leaders to look unhealthy, as Richard Nixon discovered —  and since Reagan's physical impact is so potent, we might ponder its larger implications. This perfectly functioning body...moves, or rather glides, toward every obstacle with neither hesitation nor hurry. It is driven by a strange will consisting mainly of paradoxes: aggression without hostility, ego without vanity, superiority without snobbery, and that moral passion Reagan describes as 'a clean hatred.' Unlike Woodrow Wilson or Jimmy Carter, with their killer smiles and passion to preach, he has no contempt for the ungodly, nor does he have Theodore Roosevelt's bulldozer determination to move in a straight line. He advances by simply not noticing obstructions. Thus, when one deflects him, he assumes he has changed course voluntarily, and if it rolls out of his way, shows neither surprise nor gratitude.