February 10, 2004
I'm no big fan of the feel-good politics of this local Chicago magazine (it's hard to take seriously any periodical that publishes an article about how the tantric teachings of some new age yahoo "can open the door to enlightenment and sacred sexuality"), but their interview with Barack Obama is really excellent. Mostly because they let him do the talking. Clearly the interview is an attempt to extract his moral vision, and Barack knows that he is playing to a particularly idealistic audience. But watch how he handles this question that tries to paint him into an ultra-liberal corner:
CC: Do you believe it's possible to stay true to your values in the current climate?
BO: I don't want to sound over idealistic, you know, politics is compromise, politics is power, politics is self-interest. But politics is also vision and it's also principle and it's also values. And those are ingredients, hopefully, in equal measure, that make up the debate and I don't think it would be healthy to send a politician to Washington who doesn't know how to negotiate or can't count votes. But I also think it's not particularly healthy if politics is viewed as only a business and not a mission.
I'm not one easily moved by campaign rhetoric, but the deft balance of practicality and idealism in that answer is admirable. I've yet to hear any of the other candidates speak so eloquently about the responsibility of an elected official.