Yesterday I finished off Obama's book, the Audacity of Hope. (By the way, "barack" means "peach" in Hungarian). I am definitely impressed with a number of things about Obama and in particular his approach to politics. It's true he's relatively young and has risen very fast, but I think he would make an excellent President. Consider:
- The man is very intelligent: In the vast majority of law schools, your work is graded anonymously so if you end up at the top of the class, you earned it solely based on the quality of your work (no kissing up in office hours, no breaks from affirmative action, etc). Obama ended up at the top of his class at Harvard law school and then was elected out of all those brilliant people to be the head of the Law Review--the best of the best. This is an amazing achievement, one I would consider close to winning a Nobel prize, based upon how exclusive this club is.
- His approach to politics: This is why he gets the support of a registered Republican like me. After hearing a number of speeches and reading his book, Obama is onto something very important: he recognizes that the current political climate has been hijacked by extremists of the left and the right who absolutely hate each other and believe you'd have to be a moron to be a Republican or a Democrat. Although Bush Jr. also portrayed himself as a "uniter and not a divider" he's actually practiced a brand of "us vs them" ideology-driven politics that has not been healthy for the US or the world. To sum up briefly why I believe Obama's approach would be quite different is that he is not controlled by a simplistic ideology that focuses on achieving a few key things at all costs: (e.g. Tax Cuts are Good! The woman's right to choose is the most important thing in the world!) Of course, he does have specific policy proposals, and he is clearly a Democrat, but his approach is key: instead of focusing on the 20% of the issues that America is split exactly in half on, focus on the 80% of the issues that would actually get bi-partisan support.
- Management skills & support: Obama is a good manager and this is shown in how well he's handled his campaign. It's remarkable how well he's done overtaking Clinton--and he did it methodically, with a steady hand, unlike the erratic way Clinton has managed her own. Obama has used grassroots supporters in a very strategic way, somewhat like armies would be deployed across the country. He's also pretty tech-savvy and his website is quite good. Finally, it's also very impressive that most of his financial support has come from small donors--over a million people have contributed--instead of big lobbyists or special interests.
Allright, enough about politics and Obama. Agi and I went to the Budapest city library last week and picked up some good books. I've started in on a brief history of Russia and Agi is reading Jared Diamond's Guns Germs & Steel.