Introduction: A Counterfactual Presidency

Introduction: A Counterfactual Presidency

Introduction: A counterfactual presidency

IF F. SCOTT FITZGERALD was right that the mark of a first-class mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at once, then understanding the Obama administration must require something akin to genius.

The competing narratives that accompany the past few years might bring on whiplash. Is Obama too liberal, too activist, too eager to drive the nation toward some sort of socialist paradise? Or is he too moderate, too conciliatory, too willing to sell out his base? Is he too eager to be a “movement leader” rather than a politician—or is he too far down in the partisan muck his campaign promised to transcend?1 His administration was attacked both for its efforts to expand the size and ...

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