Another Bi.... to think about

Over at TPM, George Lakoff has a few ideas about how to hear Obama's national address this evening (2/24/09). His notion of Obama and bi-conceptualism makes some interesting claims about Republicans (and Democrats)."The third crucial idea behind the Obama Code is biconceptualism, the knowledge that a great many people who identify themselves ideologically as conservatives, or politically as Republicans or Independents, share those fundamental American values--at least on certain issues. Most "conservatives" are not thoroughgoing movement conservatives, but are what I have called "partial progressives" sharing Obama's American values on many issues. Where such folks agree with him on values, Obama tries, and will continue to try, to work with them on those issues if not others. And, he assumes, correctly believe, that the more they come to think in terms of those American values, the less they will think in terms of opposing conservative values."Biconceptualism lay behind his invitation to Rick Warren to speak at the inaugural. Warren is a biconceptual, like many younger evangelicals. He shares Obama's views of the environment, poverty, health, and social responsibility, though he is otherwise a conservative. Biconceptualism is behind his "courting" of Republican members of Congress.

The idea is not to accept conservative moral views, but to find those issues where individual Republicans already share what he sees as fundamentally American values. He has "reached across the aisle" to Richard Luger on nuclear proliferation, but not on economics."Biconceptualism is central to Obama's attempts to achieve unity --a unity based on his understanding of American values. The current economic failure gives him an opening to speak about the economy in terms of those ideals: caring about all, prosperity for all, responsibility for all by all, and good jobs for all who want to work."I think Obama is correct about biconceptualism of this sort -- at least where the overwhelming proportion of Americans is concerned. When the President spoke at the Lincoln Day dinner recently about sensible Midwestern Republicans, he meant biconceptual Republicans, who are progressive and/or pragmatic on many issues."Whole thing here (wonkish as Paul Krugman would say):http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/02/24/the_obama_code/#more

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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