Here's the Prez's self-evaluation, aggressively promoted by his spokespersons and by the man himself:
I like that; after all, whatever else I may be, my sensibility is that of an historian. I don't really believe he can accept that he, too, is contingent flotsam -- but we all are.
Elsewhere in the piece, I was taken aback to come across this theological morsel from Obama:
I know Obama is some kind of Christian. Given his historical bent and intellectual turn, I guess I should not be surprised by that (Calvinist?) assertion. But for all the professed religiosity of the contemporary United States, there are very few of us for whom a recognition of "original sin" would be anything more than an affirmation of a tribal allegiance to some (pretty awful?) branch of the faith. We don't talk "sin" much. When we do, we usually mean sexual peccadilloes, not statements about our understanding of the nature of our species. But there Obama goes with this and in context it is no throwaway line.
What shocked me most in Remnick's interviews was this:
What? He'd can't mean that. Runaway climate change portends a far greater crisis than Lincoln or F.D.R. ever imagined. Their adversaries and enemies were bad men; we now face planetary disruptions our social systems are causing and which we only begin to understand. Humans have always been able to be confident that however much we changed societies, the planet would not alter, at least not much or very rapidly. This is no longer true.
This sure looks like a crisis to me. The Prez is too sharp not to understand that. He may not believe he can do anything about it, but even if that is so, he still owes us the truth. Or so I think.