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Obama’s Truth

by Charles R. Kesler

It may not be true, but it’s still absolute

More than any Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt, Barack Obama in his writings and speeches has worked out an impressive interpretation of American history that culminates in modern liberalism. It also culminates, not incidentally, in him. As a writer, Obama’s strength is telling tales, and his story of America mixes together social, intellectual, and political history. It begins and keeps contending with the Founding with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He tries to tell a new story about the country that acknowledges, and then contextualizes, traditional views in ways that are meant to be reassuring but that point to very untraditional conclusions.

In The Audacity of Hope, his second book, in a chapter titled “Values,” he quotes the Declaration’s famous sentence on self-evident truths and then comments:

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