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Since taking the helm of The New Yorker in 1998, David Remnick has returned the magazine to its profitable glory days. A graduate of Princeton University, he began his journalistic[…]

Obama wants to win. He’s “not some kind of pie-eyed idealist.”

Question: rnHow has the story of Barack Obama evolved since the beginning of this rnyear?

David Remnick: It’s always useful, rnjournalistically, to remember the kind of sine curve of defeat and rnvictory. I remember just a couple of months ago, we ran a cover that hadrn four panels and Obama in three of them is walking across water in rnradiant light like you know, the great biblical figure. And in the rnfourth panel, he falls in the water. This is the nadir of the healthcarern debate. It looked like he was quite possibly was going to lose, there rnwas already talk about how horrible November elections were going to be rnfor the Democratic party, and then he turns it around. And he won. He rndidn’t win a bipartisan victory, by any means. In fact, the main rnpoliticking had to be within the Democratic party to put it over. But rnall that said, he won an enormous victory and the momentum of the rnpresidency changed. How long that will last, will it have any bearing onrn what happens in November? Well, as those reports always say, we’ll waitrn and see.

Question: Has he given up on trying to be rnbipartisan?

David Remnick: Even though Obama’s rnpolitical reflex, his political personality aims toward conciliation, rnit’s certainly what made him a political animal as early as law school. rnIt’s how he got to be the President of the Law Review, by drawing in rnconservatives as well as liberals, it’s how he succeeded. He’s not a rnfool. He sees reality. He sees the partisan divisiveness in the rnCongress. He wants to win. This is not some kind of pie-eyed idealist. rnLook at the health care bill, that bill contracted and was shaped over rntime in ways he may not have wanted, but he wanted to win. He did not rnwant to walk out of there a gallant loser. Conciliation is also not a rnstrategy that will necessarily work with pretty stubborn international rnforces. Conciliation, or charm, is not something that’s going to work rnwith Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or any other political force of that like.

There’srnrn also a toughness to him. It’s not toughness that obstreperous and rnswaggering, but he’s capable of it.
Recorded on April 9, 2010