David Brooks was delighted by the response he received when he popped the Reinhold Niebuhr question to Barack Obama a week or so ago. “I love him.” Obama said. “He’s one of my favorite philosophers.” Needless to say, Brooks was impressed. “So I asked, What do you take away from him?”
“I take away,” Obama answered in a rush of words, “the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away … the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism.”
more from TNR here.