Now that the auto company bailout, Blagojevitch, and pictures of Meryl Streep in a wimple have distracted the nation, it's time to consider the old battle between pragmatism vs ideology, as it manifests itself in the shaping of Barack Obama's Cabinet. Ta-Nehisi Coates' post covers a lot of things: the by now threadbare comparisons betwee Obama and Lincoln's Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin and Mr. Goodwin can wish themselves a very merry Christmas); the connection between "centrism," "bipartisanship," and Beltway insiderdom; and the "fetish" we make of pragmatism. He's not completely correct: his reading of Lincoln's views on race don't account for the subtle evolution of his thinking. Relying on Lincoln's to our ears dispiriting reluctance to admit social equality between black and white in 1858 and his 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, not to mention Lincoln's request to assembled black leaders to seriously consider a proposal to take freed black slaves to Liberia -- one of the few really dumb ideas Lincoln ever told anyone, which Coates doesn't mention -- shortchanges how delicately he looked past his own prejudices in his private letters and public statements.
Even the comments section maintains a fairly high level of intelligence.