Monday, October 27, 2008

Barack Obama, Forever Sizing Up

A nice profile of Obama and his life story.  Thank GOODNESS we're finally going to have a President who thinks logically about difficult issues!

When it comes to making decisions, Mr. Obama’s impulse for control translates into a kind of deliberative restraint. He has always required time to mull: As a community organizer, he spent his evenings filling journals, trying to sort out the day’s confusion. During his seven years as a state senator, he used the time driving between Springfield and Chicago for contemplation; when staffers suggested that a candidate for the United States Senate should have a driver, Mr. Obama resisted, saying the driver might intrude. Hence Mr. Obama’s fluster when he misses his daily gym time. “That’s when he can get his mind straight,” said Jim Cauley, his campaign manager in the United States Senate race.

Mr. Obama resists making quick judgments or responding to day-to-day fluctuations, aides say. Instead he follows a familiar set of steps: Perform copious research. Solicit expertise. (What delighted Mr. Obama most about becoming a United States senator, he told an old boss, was his access to top scholars: he was a kid in the Princeton and Stanford candy shops.) Project all likely scenarios. Devise a plan. Anticipate objections. Adjust the plan, and once it’s in place, stick with it. In part, this approach explains how Mr. Obama won in the primaries: he exploited the electoral calendar and arcane differences in voting methods, and while Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton continually tried out new messages, Mr. Obama modified his only slightly, even when some supporters urged more dramatic change.

Like all other campaigns, Mr. Obama’s is imbued with its leader’s personality: it is a tight, centralized structure, run by a tiny group that permits no leaks. On the trail, Mr. Obama has struggled with the unpredictable questions and irritating time limits of presidential debates. He does not always react swiftly to unexpected shifts. This summer, Mr. Obama had just finished a perfectly planned tour of Europe when Russia blitzed into neighboring Georgia; he took several days to settle on a position. After Mr. McCain’s surprise selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Obama campaign seemed to struggle to react.


Barack Obama, Forever Sizing Up

Published: October 25, 2008

From his days leading The Harvard Law Review to his presidential campaign, Barack Obama has always run meetings by a particular set of rules.

Everyone contributes; silent lurkers will be interrogated. (He wants to “suck the room of every idea,” said Valerie Jarrett, a close adviser.) Mention a theory and Mr. Obama asks how it translates on the ground. He orchestrates debate, playing participants off each other — and then highlights their areas of agreement. He constantly restates others’ contributions in his own invariably more eloquent words. But when the session ends, his view can remain a mystery, and his ultimate call is sometimes a surprise to everyone who was present.


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