This president of the United States is a man from many worlds. Barack Obama has long cast himself as a transcender of tribes. “Born and raised between opposing dogmas, between cultures, between voices,” as the novelist Zadie Smith has written, he seems to take pride in acknowledging the truth in multiple ways of seeing.
And so he pursues the liberal goal of widening health care access, but relies on private insurers and frames it as a question of budgets more than justice. He sustains and intensifies George W. Bush’s “war on terror,” while at the same time refusing to call it a war on terror and speaking more gingerly about America’s role in the world.