I really like Barack Obama - anyone who reads this blog knows that. And it's not just his ideas that are so attractive; his style is just stunning. I'm no starry eyed kid; I've been around the block with many candidates who looked better than they turned out to be. But in this case, it feels like the more you look the better it gets. It's scary, in fact, because it can't be true - there are sure to be grim and discouraging moments and long dry periods. Even so, there is so much room for hope. I wanted to share a couple of moments that add to that hope as we look forward in these very scary times.
First, last week's issue of the New York Time Magazine included a piece by Ron Suskind, author of A Hope in the Unseen, called Change. You really should read it, but for now consider this story that Valerie Jarrett told Suskind as evidence that I'm not delusional to be so excited about the basic qualities of this man.
It was in Iowa, just a year ago. Obama was way behind Hillary Clinton. The heavyweights were called in, 200 members of Obama’s national finance committee. The money people. Many had given mightily. And now, it seemed, nothing was working. Obama said that before they all gathered to pass judgment, he wanted them — all 200 — to meet his grass-roots field team in Iowa.They did, then gathered in a room at an Iowa arts center. The room was tense. Obama explained that day that they were running a different kind of campaign, a real grass-roots campaign, one that grew from the bottom up, from the dirt, and that it takes time for those roots to take hold. And the heavy hitters nodded; yes, they understood that idea, but it wasn’t working. The polls were the proof. They showed Clinton with a double-digit lead. And Jarrett can remember how Obama looked at them, hard-eyed, everything on the line. “ ‘Did you think I was kidding when I said this was the unlikely journey?’ ” Jarrett recalls him saying. “‘You thought this would be simple? No, change is never simple. Change is hard.
“ ‘Listen, I know you’re nervous,’ he went on. ‘But if you’re nervous, I’ll hold your hand. We’re going to get through this together. And if we win Iowa, we’ll win this country.’ ”
Jarrett said: “He turned their emotion around. He made sense of it. He told them why we were there and what was within our grasp. And people became jubilant. You never heard cheering like that. That was the turn, where it happened.”
To me that says it all. There's lots more in the piece though; I just read it last night and was just knocked out by it.
Then, thanks to RoadKill Refugee, who always seems to find things no one else has noticed, I came upon this remarkable interview between Obama and my old boss Bryant Gumbel. Again, everything that is revealed seems positive. Wise, funny, unpretentious - a man, as so many have observed, who is comfortable in his own skin; a man who doesn't have to prove anything to anybody.
Make of these what you will - but amid all the staffing speculation and bailout talk, school choice, puppy shopping and Inauguration gossip, this is a look at what appears to be some of the real stuff behind this person we've chosen to lead us for the next four years.