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« More Ersatz Chinese Proverbs | Main | The Limits of Confucian Revival in China »

May 14, 2010


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Agreed, very much Sun Tzu. With Machiavelli as his prime minister in Rahm. ;^)

Powerful, indeed, though.

Great analysis. Provides good food for thought. I would certainly agree that I can't think of a US president that embodies Taoist principles.

I don't know. The daodejing passage you quote seems like pure spirituality to me. The relaxed immersion in whatever it is you face, no matter how horrific, exciting or yawn-inspiring. Water ebbing in all those places.

Obama may very well approach life this way. A family friend who spent inauguration night at the White House seems to think so. In the end, who really knows?

Looking from the outside, the ultimate level of being the daodejing passage addresses is many steps removed from what anyone can tell about the spiritual approach (if any) Obama takes to policy or appointments. Especially when viewed through the dark glass of what gets reported in the idiotic media.

It is completely possible that Obama approaches his administration from both Sunzi's and Lao (and Zhuang) zi's perspectives. These perspectives are not mutually exclusive. At least neither Laozi nor Zhuangzi would think so. Water flows even into legalistic spaces. Sunzi and Hanfeizi may think otherwise.

I suspect Obama picked Elena Kagan because she is an old friend who shares a common mentor -- Abner Mikva. They know each other very well and he trusts her. Obama's motivation could simply be to do a good job while doing something nice for a deserving friend. That's practically Confucian.

Bill Verick!
Wow, it's been a long time since the Steep and Brew in Madison...
Yes, you're right. Daoism is prone to absorption by various other schools of thought, Sun Zi included. And I, too, think Obama is closer to Mencius than just about any other ancient thinker...

Puppet,pawn and hireling can't decide its own move ...

Obama: 'I Have Met Israel And It Is "Us"'

By Robert Dreyfuss

10 July, 2010
The Nation

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