He's simply in another intellectual league from the near drop-out John McCain. Not in a hundred years would John McCain offer anything like the following analysis, whether you agree with it or not. He simply is not smart enough. Period. In this, he shares common ground with his new model, Geroge W. Bush. Stupidity is a serious deficit for a president....
Obama also may have the most sophisticated understanding of the U.S. Constitution and how the Founders structured this complex system of checks and balances to protect individual liberties and to compel reasoned debate.
A Harvard-educated lawyer who has lectured on the Constitution, Obama devoted a chapter in his memoir The Audacity of Hope to a discussion of how constitutional principles apply to today’s political challenges.
In the chapter, Obama doesn’t do what many politicians do, cite the Constitution to support some favored position. He views the Constitution instead as an ingenious device that compels debate and compromise, while protecting individual liberties.
“The answer I settle on – which is by no means original to me – requires a shift in metaphors, one that sees our democracy not as a house to be built, but as a conversation to be had,” Obama writes.
“The genius of Madison’s design is not that it provides us a fixed blueprint for action, the way a draftsman plots a building’s construction. It provides us with a framework and with rules, but fidelity to these rules will not guarantee a just society or assure agreement on what’s right. It won’t tell us whether abortion is good or bad, a decision for a woman to make or a decision for a legislature. Nor will it tell us whether school prayer is better than no prayer at all.
“What the framework of our Constitution can do is organize the way by which we argue about our future. All of its elaborate machinery – its separation of powers and checks and balances and federalist principles and Bill of Rights – are designed to force us into a conversation, a ‘deliberative democracy’ in which all citizens are required to engage in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality, persuading others of their point of view, and building shifting alliances of consent.
“Because power in our government is so diffuse, the process of making law in America compels us to entertain the possibility that we are not always right and to sometimes change our minds; it challenges us to examine our motives and our interests constantly, and suggests that both our individual and collective judgments are at once legitimate and highly fallible.”
Obama continues: “The historical record supports such a view. After all, if there was one impulse shared by all the Founders, it was a rejection of all forms of absolute authority, whether the king, the theocrat, the general, the oligarch, the dictator, the majority, or anyone else who claims to make choices for us. …
“It’s not just absolute power that the Founders sought to prevent. Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or ‘ism,’ any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course, or drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad.
“The Founders may have trusted in God, but true to the Enlightenment spirit, they also trusted in the minds and senses that God had given them. They were suspicious of abstractions and liked asking questions, which is why at every turn in our early history, theory yielded to fact and necessity.”