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Obama’s “In It to Win”

Has President Obama given up on being bipartisan? New Yorker editor David Remnick, author of the new Obama biography “The Bridge,” thinks that while the President’s political personality “aims toward conciliation,” he’s “not some kind of pie-eyed idealist.” Charm is a useful tool, says Remnick, but Obama’s in it to win.

In his latest Big Think interview, Remnick also talked about what might happen if today’s political rancor in the U.S. really gets out of hand—going for so far as to compare the extremism what happened in Israel under Yitzhak Rabin: the far right stirred things up so much that the political atmosphere became, literally, murderous.

What can we expect from the stalled Mideast peace process? Remnick believes that the more unwilling Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to make a leap of history, the more dangerous it’s going to get. Unfortunately, he says, there’s a feeling among many right-wing Israelis that the status quo—a massive security fence that has cut down on terrorism and achieved a “rough security” that they can live with—can last. “It’s given the illusion … [that] they can have their cake and eat it too,” says Remnick.

Former New Yorker editor Tina Brown’s upstart Daily Beast often has twice as much traffic as, but Remnick says he’s not so worried. “Any website that’s built around news and what’s going on now and five minutes later and aggregating and churning what’s going on in the moment, is inevitably going to get higher traffic.” Is there a future for the New Yorker and its old world journalistic feel? Remnick says yes, because The New Yorker exists to create long form journalism, which he thinks will continue to have an important place.


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