Mark Lilla’s review of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism is something to behold.
Lilla starts with a quick evisceration of the conservative mythology surrounding Barack Obama. He moves on to a measured assessment of the expectations that reasonable people — “centrist Democrats like me” — have about the president, and expresses a genuine curiosity to hear measured assessments from reasonable people on the other side:
…when Kesler begins his book by dismissing those who portray the president as “a third-world daddy’s boy, Alinskyist agitator, deep-cover Muslim or undocumented alien,” the reader is relieved to know that I Am the Change won’t be another cheap, deflationary takedown.
Then he says this:
Instead, it is that rarest of things, a cheap inflationary takedown — a book that so exaggerates the historical significance of this four-year senator from Illinois, who’s been at his new job even less time, that he becomes both Alien and Predator.
That last emphasis is mine.
The rest includes an intermission, a reference to “Hegelian bacillus” and a Woodrow Wilson-Hegel love child, and a closing story about Maimonides. Read it all here.
- Michael Moats