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Barack Our Savior?

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Reading Philip Weiss's blog for the last month or so, I've come to love Obama. I've gone from being a Ron Paul devotee to an Obama fanatic. Instead of googling "Ron Paul" every morning, I now start my day with a "sort by date" google search for Obama. Quite the ideological leap, you say? Well not according to Boston University professor of international relations Andrew Bacevich, who argues in this article from The American Conservative that, of the three candidates, Obama most closely resembles a small-government, non-interventionist paleoconservative.

And yesterday hot tears spurt from my eyes as I watched Obama say in this hour-long interview with Google that while the problem of the 20th century was the problem of the color line, the problem of the 21st century is the problem of understanding and coming to terms with the Other.

What other mainstream politician even knows this term, "the Other"? But then again, what other politician has met with the late Edward Said? How'd he get this enlightened? Or, more importantly, how did someone this enlightened make it this far in politics? Is his enlightenedness even real? Is "enlightenedness" even a word? Can a politician be too enlightened? We all remember how much good Woodrow Wilson's urbane cultivation did us-- or was his brand of mushy idealism altogether different from Obamian enlightened-ism? Is it a good thing to have a President who's read Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler? Has Obama read Kristeva and Butler? Have I even read Kristeva and Butler?

The more we learn about this enigmatic figure, the more questions arise, both about him and ourselves.

Yet despite all of these good signs, Obama still remains something of a wild card. There are those progressives on the left, like writer Philip Weiss, who are confident that an Obama presidency would lead to significant changes in foreign policy; but then there are those on the nationalist, libertarian-leaning right, like Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, who see all three candidates-- Obama included-- as likely to continue with the neoconservative policy of never-ending interventions, which, according to Scheuer in this interview, will most likely prove fatal for both the U.S. and Israel, not to mention for the Muslim world.

So my question is this: Whose appraisal of Obama is correct, the nationalists or the progressives? Can we expect any real change with an Obama presidency, especially with regard to U.S. policy in the Mideast?
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Ryan is a researcher of Japanese literature currently investigating the influence, for better or worse, that the importation of Western realism had on modern Japanese literary history. He keeps a blog -- -- that is in (more...)
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