Obama: "Calm in the swirl of history"

Dateline: Tue 03 Jun 2008

Tuesday's New York Times takes an insightful crack at unraveling just who Barack Obama is. Some of what is revealed matches up with what Betsy Olson, his chief operating officer and a former staffer for President Bill Clinton, said at a Women for Obama meeting in Greencastle.

Obama, Olson said, has a strong leadership style, but he is not an egotist or a narcissist in the classical sense, although of course every politician obviously must have a magnified sense of self. Obama believes, said Olson, in a bottom-up approach, which is one reason people are so loyal to him. It's never all about him. There's something else at work.

Also significant: when it comes to hiring aides, his one criteria: no drama kings or queens. That explains why his campaign runs so smoothly and effectively.

At any rate, the following clincher to the NYTimes article hit home (The context is the huge number of articles and essays that have been written about Obama, which he does not read):

"A reporter reads aloud from the novelist Darryl Pinckney's essay in The New York Review of Books. Mr. Obama, the novelist (Pinckney) writes, 'comes across as someone who stored away for future consideration practically everything that was ever said to him, and who had a talent for watchfulness, part of the extraordinary armor he developed at an early age.'

"Mr. Obama nods. That's intriguing. But he prefers his own riff, which not incidentally trains the eye not on him but on his crowds. "I love when I'm shaking hands on a rope line and", he mimes the motion, hand over hand, "I see little old white ladies and big burly black guys and Latino girls and all their hands are entwining. They're feeding on each other as much as on me."

He shrugs.

"It's like I'm just the excuse."

Here's the link to the entire article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/04/us/politics/04obama.html

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