Thursday, 26 February 2009

The 44th-to-be meets the 43rd

I am enjoying The Audacity of Hope. It cannot have been easy for Obama to find truthful but nice things to write about his predecessor, but he attempts, initially with success, to do so. Here he is describing his early visits to the White House:

"Both times I had found the President to be a likeable man, shrewd and disciplined but with the same straightforward manner that had helped him win two elections; you could easily imagine him owning the local car dealership down the street, coaching Little League, and grilling in his backyard—the kind of guy who would make for good company as long as the conversation revolved around sports and the kids."

Admirably, Obama restrains himself from adding "...and thus well qualified to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth". But he goes on:

"There had been a moment during the breakfast meeting, though, after the backslapping and the small talk... that I witnessed a different side of the man. [He] had begun to discuss his second-term agenda... the importance of staying the course in Iraq and renewing the Patriot Act, the need to reform Social Security and overhaul the tax system, his determination to get an up-or-down vote on his judicial appointees—when suddenly it felt as if somebody in a back room had flipped a switch. The President's eyes became fixed; his voice took on the rapid, agitated tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty. As I watched my mostly Republican colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring..."

Delicately done.

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