You seem to be saying that only Hillary can take us beyond Baby Boomer politics because only she’s lived through it. But Obama’s argument is that he represents a post-Baby Boomer politics, and that he’s not bogged down, like Hillary, in those old conflicts.
I think the whole idea of Baby Boomer politics is the problem. That concept. I’m very disappointed in that. There’s no such thing. You cannot enter this moment and make a new departure unless you understand what you’re departing from. And that’s what she understands. She’s not proposing some sort of vaporous, virtuous new thing that she’s going to conjure out of thin air. American political life doesn’t work that way. She’s not going to go “presto, change-o, everything’s different.” We all know that’s fantasy.
So you don’t find Obama’s meta-arguments against “politics as usual” particularly convincing?
You cannot have a president who doesn’t like politics. You will not get anything done. Period. I happen to love American politics. I think American politics is wonderful. I can understand why people don’t. But one of the problems in America is that politics has been so soured, people try to be above it all. It’s like Adlai Stevenson. In some ways, Barack reminds me of Stevenson.
There’s always a Stevenson candidate. Bradley was one of them. Tsongas was one of them. They’re the people who are kind of ambivalent about power. “Should I be in this or not… well, yes, because I’m going to represent something new.” It’s beautiful loserdom. The fact is, you can’t govern without politics. That’s what democracy is. Democracy isn’t some utopian proposition by which the people suddenly rule. We’re too complicated a country for that. We have too many interests here. You need someone who can govern, who can build the coalition and move the country forward. MORE