Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What the hell is "Niebuhrian modesty?"

Before I comment on the Global Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (THAT will happen upon the President's arrival next week and will be predicated upon his reception there...will (the press) be icy or relatively rabid or perhaps just lukewarm)...anyway, before that, I must MUST ask exactly WHAT is "Niebuhrian modesty?" "What the hell?" Well, thank you, Buck...let me explain...

I have received numerous critiques of my postings and aside from the usual, "well, it's just a blog," or "I don't read political stuff," or "you suck," the major complaint is that it's difficult to follow my theme(s). I plead guilty by reasons of ignorance to those indictments (I'm still learning), however, after reading newspaper column after column after column, I KNOW it," ain't cuz I use big woids."

David Brooks of the New York Times wrote a column yesterday which for the most part was favorable to the President...not so much for anything "glowing," but for the usual (more or less) fact that he wasn't George W. Bush. There wasn't much earth shattering...much like my posts...except that Brooks has a few more readers than me.

What jumped out at me, from reading the column (which was entitled "Afghanistan strategy reveals complexity of Obama's leadership), was when Brooks described Obama's style as "cloaked in what you might call Niebuhrian modesty." WHAT??!!?? No, that wasn't Buck; that was me this time...and I don't think I would EVER call ANYTHING "Niebuhrian."

Other newshounds (I hesitate to call them journalists), made similar comments following the President's speech at West Point in which he called for additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan. However, none of them used the term "Niebuhrian modesty." Hey, maybe it'll become the new "gravitas," (the term which came in vogue after it was used by EVERY news organization as they tried to describe what Bush lacked in his presidency).

But Brooks didn't stop there, he went on to, of course, make sure his readers did not misinterpret his use of the term as indicating that President Obama was ambivalent...even though, to be fair, don't you think he had the right...I mean, placating the right while tossing a bone to the left so as not to be abandoned...NOT that the left would ever abandon him)...

Fast forward to the last two sentences of his, it wasn't "I love Obama," or "Obama rules." The sentences read quite simply, for us to "embrace the complexity," and "learn to live with the dispassion." How does that relate to "Niebuhrian modesty?" Well, I would advise, ala Laugh-in (for those of you who remember Rowan and Martin), you to "look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls," but you'll probably have to (just) do like I did...and google it...

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