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The postpartisan partisan

Obama as Christian realist

Prior to his election in 2008, Barack Obama declared that Reinhold Niebuhr was one of his favorite philosophers. This affirmation led several prognosticators to elucidate various features of the early Obama presidency in Niebuhrian terms. Indeed, his mode of governance betrays a marked Niebuhrian slant and sometimes—as in his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize—a Niebuhrian vocabulary. That is to say, the president seeks to recognize and embrace both the idealistic and realistic poles of Christian action. He understands Christian realism as Niebuhr defined it—a recognition that politics is inherently tragic.


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