Last Week, Today: Why David Brooks Misses Barack Obama

Election analysis:

A helpful guide to navigate political discussion — or public debate — at the water cooler or over dinner: “How to Take a Stand While Turning the Other Cheek.”


In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama 39% to 36% in New Hampshire. Yesterday, Bernie Sanders won 60% of the votes, compared to Clinton’s 38%. That’s a big deal. But FiveThirtyEight believes Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be panicking. Iowa and New Hampshire are predominantly white, and the rest of the states are much more racially diverse, which is good news for Clinton, who leads Sanders by 40 percentage points nationally among non-white voters. Sandra Bland’s mother is going to campaign with her next week, and the Congressional Black Caucus is going to formally endorse her.


One of the most important results was Jeb Bush’s narrow victory over Marco Rubio, who was expected — until his faltering performance during Saturday’s debate — to place a strong, third-place finish like he did in Iowa. For more context, read McKay Coppins’ on the longstanding “anxiety of Marco Rubio” and Jon Ward’s chronicles of just how much Bush has been taken by surprise and the humiliation he needs to recover. 

1. Why David Brooks misses President Obama

“Now, obviously I disagree with a lot of Obama’s policy decisions… But over the course of this campaign it feels as if there’s been a decline in behavioral standards across the board. Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss.”

In light of that, check out Obama's remarks during his mosque visit, in which he told Muslim-Americans “you fit in here… you’re part of America too,” as well as hisspeech during the National Prayer Breakfast, in which he quotes 2 Timothy and explains that “Jesus is a good cure for fear."

Michael tweeted that Obama's prayer breakfast speech (which echoed hisconversation with Marilynne Robinson) was one of his strongest, saying that "the President displayed today the power of pluralism. He spoke without caveat of his faith in Jesus AND included stories of other faiths. He showed that you can be who you are & embrace diversity and inclusion. Lessons to be learned for both liberals and conservatives from that."

2. Are women “betraying” their gender by voting for Sanders over Clinton?

First, it was a viral, all-caps rant by Courtney Enlow about the liberal backlash against Hillary Clinton and how liberal voters judge Clinton more unfairly than they do Sanders. Then it was Madeleine Albright reminding young women during a Clinton rally in New Hampshire that there is a “special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” followed by Gloria Steinem, a leading figure of the feminist movement,implying that young women are flocking to Bernie because that is where the “boys are.” Needless to say, the response by many women, young and old, to these remarks has been fierce. It is a fascinating window into the current tensions within today's feminist movement.

3. Sunday School Extremism in the United Kingdom? 

Evangelical groups are concerned over the United Kingdom's efforts to combat Islamic extremism, as the state is trying to apply an “even-handed” approach to tighten regulation of all religious education, including Sunday schools and bible camps. The goal is to promote “British values” in all public schools. 

4. Both GOP and LGBT Groups Criticize Gay Rights Bill in Indiana 

A bill to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation was withdrawn from the Indiana Legislature due to opposition from Republicans who opposed expanding rights on the basis of sexual orientation, and even some Democrats who criticized the bill’s omission of transgender people and exemptions for faith groups. As Michael noted, this is “zero-sum, winner-take-all politics in Indiana.” 

5. The Video that Everyone is Talking About

Beyonce’s song and music video, Formation, is “nothing less than a primer in recent African-American history,” covering Katrina, Black Lives Matter, beauty standards, MLK Jr., and even slavery. For an unusual Ash Wednesday homily, read Broderick Geeer’s thoughts on how we ought be in “formation” during the upcoming Lent. 

Thank you for reading. 

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