The Obama Question: A Progressive Perspective

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9781442215375: The Obama Question: A Progressive Perspective

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 was hailed by many as a historic event and by some as the end of the Reagan era in American politics. But conservatives have condemned Obama from the beginning of his presidency, and many progressives charge that Obama has betrayed the causes that he espoused in 2008.

This book offers a brilliant critique of Obama's presidency and a powerful case that progressives should not give up on Obama. Gary Dorrien, described by Princeton philosopher Cornel West as "the preeminent social ethicist in North America today," argues that Obama is a figure of "protean irony and complexity." Obama has been a bitter disappointment in many ways, Dorrien contends, yet Obama also has historic achievements to his credit that are too often discounted.

Dorrien emphasizes the importance of Obama's story to his career and devotes chapters to the economic crisis, the health care reform debate, war and foreign policy, banking regulation and the federal budget, and the case for a progressive politics of the common good. Ultimately, Dorrien says, the Obama question is whether or not Obama's presidency will mark the end of the Reagan era—when giant corporations and the wealthy got whatever they wanted, military budgets soared, and American politics was ruled by the fantasy of tax cuts paying for themselves.

Dorrien argues that there is still time to redeem the hope of the 2008 election, bringing an end to the Reagan era. The Obama Question will stand as an insightful evaluation of a tumultuous presidency long after the next election has passed.

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About the Author:

Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and professor of religion at Columbia University, is the author of 14 books. He frequently lectures to universities, conferences, civic groups, and religious communities.

Review:

Gary Dorrien’s noted gifts for critical analysis, rigorous argument, and beautiful writing are on full display in this important book. He examines the complete Obama from Hawaii to the White House, exploring Obama's mind, policies, and politics—and contending persuasively that progressives must not give up on Obama or the nation’s common good. (Ronald Stone, author of Prophetic Realism and Moral Reflections on Foreign Policy in a Religious War)

An incisive and original account of the well known challenges and largely unrecognized achievements of the Obama presidency. Dorrien has produced a masterwork of political and ethical analysis that compels us as citizens to take up the essential work of sustained, constructive political engagement. A must-read for this election year and beyond! (Sharon Welch, provost at Meadville Lombard Theological School)

This book is not a fawning, worshipful recounting of Obama's first three years as President. Not by a long shot. Because Dorrien does not hold back on criticizing areas where he sees Obama having fallen short, his conclusion emanates all the more forcefully. . . . [t]his book makes a powerful overall argument. (Ian Reifowitz, Daily Kos)

In the Obama Question: A Progressive Perspective, Gary Dorrien offers insight into how the candidate of hope and change was transformed into the president of cope and adapt, while simulataneously making the case for Obama's second term. (Columbia Magazine)

Dorrien (religion, Columbia Univ.) critically assesses the complex and contradictory nature of President Barack Obama's leadership. At the beginning of his book, Dorrien lays out his personal preferences for the reader by indicating that he is a supporter of the Obama administration. The core focus of this study is to explore Obama's political relationships with those progressives that have become disappointed with his policies as president. Dorrien is much more sympathetic to the administration and takes the position that progressives must not become purely blinded by Obama's failures when assessing his performance in office. Instead, he reminds them that there are major accomplishments that Obama has achieved in such a short amount of time. This book will appeal to a general audience and to political pundits engaged in day-to-day water-cooler discussions about US politics and the Obama administration....Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE)

With the same thoroughness that Dorrien earlier brought to the study of American Christianity...he brings an Episcopal priest's perspective and appreciation for social justice to his analysis of the president's first term....The Obama Question puts into words the frustration many liberals feel with the obstructionism of the Republicans since Obama took office. Dorrien offers come hope that the president's most creative and courageous efforts facing down, to use John F. Kennedy's words, 'tyranny, poverty, disease - and war itself' may yet meet or exceed the early expectations of so many who believed him. (America: The National Catholic Review)

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