JIM LEHRER: Now, David...Moving right along. You were at a special dinner with -- you and a few other right-wing fanatics... went to this off-the-record dinner at George Will's house.
I'm not going to ask you what was said. But what was the feeling that came out of that, from you? How did you feel?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, he was carried in by cherubs with Oprah Winfrey spreading rose petals at his feet.
DAVID BROOKS: And he said, David, which sort of wine would you like me to turn your water into? That was...
JIM LEHRER: I see.
DAVID BROOKS: No, I -- we can't talk about what happened. But I will say a couple of things.
The one thing that comes across -- first of all, the one thing I will say is, it's a bunch of conservatives, mostly, and him. There was no sense that there were ideological sides. It was just a bunch of people sitting around talking about policy.
And there was no sides. And then I think the things that comes out of the whole series of interviews he did -- he did one with conservatives and the next day with liberals, and then The Washington Post editorial board, and I think...
JIM LEHRER: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: But the thing that comes out, a couple things. One is the intense pragmatism of the guy.
I really think he's a Democrat. And Mark will be fine with him. But he really is empirical. And I think he sees himself as a very empirical person, data-driven, no grand philosophy of what the role of government should be, just what works.
And, second, I think a real sense of stability and order, which will be of comfort to conservatives. And he's emphasized this quite a lot this week, that we are going to be spending a lot of money over the next couple of years on the stimulus package.
But, over the long term, he's aware of the deficit, the possibility of fiscal imbalances. And he's very serious about Social Security and Medicare reform, entitlement reform, to get the long-term budget in line. And, so, if he's really going to be serious about entitlements, if he's going to get a commission that will help us solve it, then he can spend a lot of money in the next year or two -- I don't care -- because that's the real fiscal issue.
And -- and he stressed that this week in his public interviews, that he really wants to take care of that issue.
Barack Obama will assume that just and rightful authority at on Tuesday. After a dinner with him that I attended last week, as we said our goodbyes, I overheard one of my fellow conservatives say softly to the president-elect, “Sir, I’ll be praying for you.” Obama seemed to pause as they shook hands, and to thank him more earnestly than he did those of us who simply — and sincerely — wished him well.
The incoming president is the man of the moment. He deserves good wishes and sincere prayers. But I’ve found myself thinking these last few days more about the man who has shouldered the burdens of office for the past eight years, George W. Bush.
Kristol’s op-ed is worth the read, btw, focusing as it does on 43 and NOT 44. But we digress... my point is Kristol was at Will's house for the dinner and seems impressed. More, from today’s Financial Times (
On his last night of freedom – so to speak – Barack Obama on Monday chose to host a dinner for John McCain, the man he defeated last November after a rancorous campaign. Monday night’s forgive-and-forget banquet followed an equally eyebrow-raising dinner last week at the home of George Will, the conservative columnist, whose guests included Bill Kristol, the viscerally anti-Obama neo- conservative.
In the build-up to probably the most feverishly awaited inauguration in history, the president-elect has been assiduously courting conservative enemies. Most supporters of Mr Obama accept the logic of winning over as many Republicans as possible in order to get maximum support behind the emergency bank bail-out and fiscal stimulus that he needs to push through Capitol Hill in his first few weeks.
In contrast to George W. Bush, whose political “boy wonder”, Karl Rove, said the support of 51 per cent of Americans was all they needed to accomplish their agenda, Mr Obama wants to build a bigger tent that enables Americans to transcend partisan differences.
The only people left scratching their heads are the liberals, who thought the incoming president was one of their own. Instead of appealing to the “better angels of our nature”, as Abraham Lincoln did in his inauguration speech in 1865, many want Mr Obama to take the fight to the conservatives, whom they believe got America into a mess.
Which, of course, is precisely the WRONG thing to do, assuming we… the American people… want our gub’mint to actually DO something, rather than continue the political posturing that’s gotten us exactly nowhere over the last few years. There’s a reason Congress’ favorable public opinion ratings are the lowest in history, and it ain’t due to the wonderfulness of our culture-warriors carrying their flags into battle. Yet some on both sides of the aisle want to perpetuate the madness.
I’m NOT saying conservatives should roll over and buy everything The One is selling… far from it. We should remain the “loyal opposition” and oppose policies and legislation that are in contravention to our core values, e.g., fiscal responsibility, small government, a strong military. What I AM saying is similar to what Maggie Thatcher told President Reagan all those years ago about Mikhail Gorbachev: “This is a man we can work with.” Put another way: becoming “the party of NO” like the Democrats did during Dubya’s first six years in office ain’t exactly smart, yanno?
The initial indications about The One being a politician Republicans can work with are good. After all, one would be hard pressed to find someone who was more anti-Obama than Mr. Kristol. In the mainstream, that is, we both know there are nuts on either side of the wire, Gentle Reader. I’m cautiously hopeful about The One… and I think he’s gonna be a whole helluva lot easier to work with than those old culture warriors on the left… like Algore or John Frickin’ Kerry. The trick will be convincing the old culture warriors on the RIGHT this is so, tho.
Never forget: politics is ALL about compromise. T’was ever so.