Barack Obama, failed conservative

Toward the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term, a 22-year-old college senior wrote a letter to his girlfriend. The letter itself is a typical specimen of its kind — confused, half-educated, ponderous, almost painfully earnest — and, despite what some have argued since, it is instructive not as literary criticism but because it tells us something about its author, who would later become the 44th president of the United States:

Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—[T.S.] Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance.



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