David Brooks writes a column today in the NY TIMES puzzling over whether Obama has the "determination" required of a "war president." [Am I the only person who thinks that Brooks looks like one of those fat-faced smug little boys, all dressed up in a suit and being fussed over by his mother, who is being pushed forward to ask the four questions at a seder?] The subject, of course, is Afghanistan, and Brooks longs for a Churchill [whom he references] who will doggedly pursue wars to "victory." As columnists often do, he attributes these thoughts to unnamed "military experts," but the opinions are transparently his. [Brooks, of course, like almost everyone else pontificating about matters of war and peace, has never spent a day in uniform, and wouldn't know which end of a rifle to put the ammunition in, but that does not stop him from speaking with calm self-assurance about sending other people into harm's way.]
This set me thinking about what the so often invoked Founding Fathers wanted in a president. By a delicious irony, Obama actually comes very close to what those slave owners had in mind -- someone who seeks to work cooperatively with Congress, who takes a limited and modest view of the title "Commander in Chief," who shuns "entangling alliances" and focuses his energies on the domestic needs of the country. Brooks acknowledges condescendingly that Obama is "intellectually sophisticated" and "is capable of processing complicated arguments and weighing nuanced evidence." But, Brooks says, what really matters is whether Obama possesses "tenacity, the ability to fixate on a simple conviction and grip it, viscerally and unflinchingly, through complexity anjd confusion."
Now, let us think. What recent president exhibited that trait, so much more important, accoridng to Brooks, than mere intellectual sophistication and the ability to weigh nuanced evidence? Ah yes, I remember -- George W. Bush.
If it weren't for the crossword puzzle and Frank Rich, I would cancel my subscription.