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Strong and Wrong?

The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson says that Barack Obama shows that an American president can be a combination of “strong” and “wrong”. He remarks: “President Obama possesses a certain kind of strength, which I had underestimated. His reserve is not passionless. During the health-care debate, Obama has been tenacious, even ruthless. Following the Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts, he reacted with anger and ambition, not conciliation. He rejected a ‘skinny bill’ out of hand. He was willing to employ and defend any method -- budget gimmicks, special deals, procedural tricks -- to achieve his goal. His methods were flexible -- the legislation violates some of his own campaign pledges on health-care reform, including the imposition of an individual mandate -- but his determination was firm. When push came to shove, he shoved. In the process, Obama has joined the pantheon of progressive presidents. Some of them, such as the ruthlessly cheerful Franklin Roosevelt, were politically dominant. Others ended as political failures: Woodrow Wilson, cold, cerebral and unloved; Lyndon Johnson, passionate, prideful and broken. But each tested the limits of executive power, changed the relationship between citizens and the state, and inspired generations to love or disdain. Obama now belongs in this company.”
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