Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nero to succeed Marcus Aurelius!

I know I have been harsh on Barack Obama the President.  As President, Obama always came across to me as a souped up combination of Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.  He seemed to lack the inner drive to go out there and strike deals.  Sometimes,  I even think that this personality trait of his has also contributed to Democrats getting cleaned out not only from the White House and Congress, but--and more importantly--at the state level in the legislatures and governors offices all over the country.

As a person, Obama has been a model human being at the White House.  Like how Carter was, and continues to be after his presidency.  Kids all over the world can--and should--look up to the likes of Obama and Carter and tell themselves, "I want to grow up to be like them."

I am equally proud of the remarkable level of intelligence that Obama has always demonstrated.  An intelligence that is not abrasive nor audacious, but humble.  Kids all over the world can--and should--look up to him and tell themselves, "I want to grow up to be smart like him."

A reader, as much as he is a writer and an orator:
During his eight years in the White House — in a noisy era of information overload, extreme partisanship and knee-jerk reactions — books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.
Yes, the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.

What a contrast to the incoming president who has not for a nanosecond demonstrated anything about "the complexities and ambiguities"; in fact, he has taken to a whole new level the previous Republican president who made it clear that he did not do nuances and that he viewed the world as us-versus-them.

For Obama:
reading gave him the ability to occasionally “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes.”
To get into somebody else's shoes is what empathy is all about.

Not even the incoming president's fanatical bootlickers will think of their Dear Leader as capable of empathy!

Obama reads widely, including fiction:
He points out, for instance, that the fiction of Junot Díaz and Jhumpa Lahiri speaks “to a very particular contemporary immigration experience,” but at the same time tell stories about “longing for this better place but also feeling displaced” — a theme central to much of American literature, and not unlike books by Philip Roth and Saul Bellow that are “steeped with this sense of being an outsider, longing to get in, not sure what you’re giving up.”
In contrast, can you imagine the demagogue having anything substantive to say about Diaz or Lahiri?!  As one reader phrased it in his comments to the NY Times piece:
Like Blunder Woman Sarah Palin, Trumpty Drumpty always struggles to name a single book he's ever read.
Oh, I owe to another commenter at the NY Times the title for this post.


Ramesh said...

Whaaaat ???? You write such a gushing post on Obama after years of pillorying him ??

Democrats deserve what they got. They never embraced Obama - witness the amount of flak he got for not going with the public option in ACA. He was constantly ridiculed by the loony Left as a traitor.

History will judge Obama to be one of the finest Presidents you have had. As for him being a role model as a human being - there is no question at all.

Sriram Khé said...

Oh, I have disagreements in plenty, but those were about his policies. And I still do. I didn't care for the loony left. Mine were specifics. Like his expansion of the secret drone operations to kill foreigners (and American citizens too) ... his abandonment of Syria ... his waffling over the race issues ... his refusal to get into the tough negotiating with the GOP and instead merely delivering highfalutin speeches ... that's what I do as a serious observer of the political-economic arena. The first time around, I even commented to a few that Obama was Slick Willie without the sex (thankfully!) ... I didn't even vote for Obama, and registered a protest vote for Nader--because I believed that he didn't have executive/governing experience behind him. I think that the lack of that experience is also why he didn't do those tough negotiations with the GOP and often conceded even before the fight began ... Obama has presided over the worst ever Democratic losses in states around the country ...

But, I have always had immense admiration for the human being that he is. And an awesome achievement for him to have won the elections. And what a lovely family man with a wonderful wife ... I hoped that Hillary Clinton would win and then she would nominate him to the Supreme Court ...

In Obama's case--and even with W's case--it was not difficult at all to separate the man from the politics. But, with the incoming president, the man is even more deplorable than his politics are!!!

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