Well, not quite, but... this will now be the third time in less than a year that I have had to speak supportively of an editorial piece by Mr. Brooks. Today's entry is called, simply, "McCain and Obama." (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/opinion/08brooks.html?ref=opinion)
The basic premise of Brooks' column today is one that I agree with. He states, "The central issue in this election is the crisis of leadership," and he points out correctly that Barack Obama and John McCain are candidates in their respective parties that are answering the call of that crisis. "Both ask their audiences to serve a cause greater than self-interest."
Indeed, as astoundingly backward as the policies of George W. Bush have been, his greater failing is that he has is too immature emotionally, limited intellectually and ego-bound psychologically to be a true leader. Whereas Mr. Bush is (sadly) best known for ridiculously self-referential quotes like "I am the Decider," the key word in any Obama speech is "you,” says Brooks. True. True.
Where I disagree with David Brooks, however, is in his implied conclusion that the differences between Obama and McCain are more about style than substance. He frames it euphemistically like this: "One man celebrates communitarian virtues like unity, the other classical virtues like honor." I think a more realistic way of describing the differences between Obama and McCain would be to say that one man is part of a progressive, forward-looking movement into a more enlightened, cooperative future for the world, while the other man is stuck in a world-view that is essentially adversarial, confrontational and self-righteous. As Mr. Obama has himself said, this election is not about black or white, male or female, liberal or conservative, but rather about old ways versus new ways of approaching governance. So, while I concur that both Barack Obama and John McCain are true leaders in their basic characters, what matters as much as having those leadership qualities is where the leader intends to lead to.