January 22, 2009
4. Words, words, words
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, though starkly different men, both viewed the presidency as pre-eminently a decision-making job. Clinton often waved away speech drafts bloated with lofty language by saying: Words, words, words.
Obama seems to have a different view of the presidency. He thinks that the right decisions can be reached by putting reasonable and enlightened people together and reaching a consensus. He believes his job as president is to educate and inspire, largely matters of style.
He knows he is good with words. He knows he has great style. So thats why he projects exceptional confidence in his ability to do the job.
We dont know yet how justified Obama is in his self-confidence or how naive.
But he is almost certain to face many tests, probably imminently, in which the test will be Obamas ability to act quickly and shrewdly and not merely describe his actions smoothly or impress people with nuance. And an unlike a governor who must decide whats in a budget and what gets cut, or whether a person to be executed at midnight should be spared Obama has not made many decisions for which the consequences affect more than himself.
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