The Blog

He Said It

2:31 PM, Aug 25, 2008 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Sean Wilentz, the Democratic party's house historian, likens his party's presidential nominee to none other than Jimmy Carter. And he doesn't mean it as a compliment:

Obama's liberal alternative to the post-Bush GOP to date has much in common with Carter's post-Watergate liberalism. Rejecting "politics as usual," attacking "Washington" as the problem, promising to heal the breaches and hurts caused by partisan political polarization, pledging to break the grip that lobbyists and special interests hold over the national government, wearing his Christian faith on his sleeve as a key to his mind, heart and soul-in all of these ways, Obama resembles Jimmy Carter more than he does any other Democratic president in living memory.

In other ways, Obama's liberal vision appears clouded, uncertain and even contradictory. During his four years in Washington, he has compiled one of the most predictably liberal voting records in the Senate-yet he presents himself as an advocate of bipartisanship and ideological flexibility. He has offered himself as the tribune of sweeping change-yet he also proclaims national unity, as if transformation can come without struggle. He has emerged as the champion of a new, post-racial politics, even though he has only grudgingly separated himself from his pastor of 20 years, who every week preached a gospel of "black liberation theology" that has everything to do with racial politics.

Wilentz supported Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries. What's that about "party unity" again?