The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama book review

Obamas second book is almost as good as
the first. But only almost. Long parts are
somewhat boring policy statements. Policies that
doesn’t seem all that new, or exciting.
Something we have heard a million times before, and
where we have turned somewhat cynical.

That said his framing of our world
does seem to be right on the money.
It starts with Reagan – that he doesnt endorse
(I assume he cant as a democrat). – Nevertheless,it does sound
like a ringing endorsement:
Reagan spoke to the longing for order,
our need to believe that we are not simply subject
to blind, impersonal forces but that we can shape
our individual and collective destinies, so long as we
rediscover the traditional values of hard work, patriotism,
personal responsibility, optimism and faith.

It is also good to hear – and obviously necessary:
That the behaviours that express our mutual regard for one another
should be: Honesty, fairness, humility, kindness,
courtesy and compassion.
If you have the basics rights. It cant be all wrong.

And you dont feel manipulated when you read this.
His remarks about Clinton. E.g.
Clinton could seem frightening coldhearted (allowing the
execution of a mentally retarded death row inmate to
go forward on the eve of an important primary).
Candidates signify their values by stopping at a black church,
go on a hunting trip, to a NASCAR race and read in
a kindergarten classroom.
informs us that he understands the need for something genuine
Obamas promise to follow his mothers guiding principle,
when dealing with other prople : “How would that make
you feel”. Also holds a lot of promise in all its
His remarks on values are obviously true. And does
need some attention in this day and age:
Our values are where we put our time, energy and money.
If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values,
if we aren’t willing to make sacrifices to realize them,
we should ask ourselves whether we believe in them at all.
Do we want nothing more than be rich, thin, young, famous,
safe and entertained?
Then it is understandable why debt is handed down to the
next generation and why millions languish in powerty.

Certainly high spirited. And faith based.
In Obamas words:
When democrats abandon the field of religious discourse,
ignoring the debate on what it means to be a good christian,
muslim or jew – others will fill the vacuum. Which is
bad politics (if you are a democrat).

Is it enough in capitalisms periodic gales of creative destruction.
In a world of natural disasters and wars?

It is all we got – obviously. The rest, time will tell.

The small anecdotes you get as you read the book
makes it worthwhile. E.g.
White couples who toss me their car keys as I stand
outside a restaurant waiting fro the valet, police cars
polling me over for no apparent reason.
And you wonder how these people will feel
realizing that they treated the future president that way?

March 12 2008.


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