Monday, January 19, 2009

Can Obama Do It?

Now you know when an article from the UK leads off with Churchill, you'd better pay attention! Kennedy is mentioned. I throw in Abraham Lincoln. Let's do it. We need some inspiration right now!

From Can Barack Obama fix it? Yes, he can, London Times, Andrew Sullivan, is all about emotional intelligence. For instance:

At several points in the gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster of last year [Obama] simply disappeared alone into a hotel room for a few minutes to gather his thoughts and restrain his feelings.

This is pure and simple EQ. In fact Abraham Lincoln said ...

"A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall ... If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend ... On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his actions, or to mark him as one to be shunned or despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart.... "

And there is some quote by Lincoln I can't find - though many have said it it many different ways about stopping to think before you speak. It's part of emotional intelligence.

Leading paragraphs from the article:
Magnanimity in victory: that was Churchill’s advice. And since his precocious victory last November, Barack Obama has walked that Churchillian walk. It is not common in politics, especially after a meteoric rise past every prejudice, every smear and every Clinton, but Obama has an old soul’s perspective and an intellectually secure man’s confidence. Perhaps he has too much confidence — except that every time his friends feared that in the campaign, he proved them wrong.

From the shallow brittleness of George W Bush to the supple strength of Obama is a revolution in temperament and style not seen since Jimmy Carter gave way to Ronald Reagan 28 years ago. It signals the kind of administration that now looms before us: a conciliatory, inclusive, pragmatic form of liberalism. It’s a liberalism eager to learn from the insights of conservatives, and it is pioneered by a president-elect shrewd enough to know that generosity of spirit means more leverage and influence, not less.

I was talking to a client the other day who lives in the UK and he said, with that British politeness and restraint that I love -- you know, without mentioning any names -- that America "needed a friendlier face." Look at the photo included with the above article (which has Barack Obama's name spelled wrong, but we'll be seeing that a lot).

In this article, Sullivan reviews Obama's domestic and foreign policies and their chances for success. We all wish the best for Obama and hope and pray that he can, as we await the Inaugural speech tomorrow, and the coming 4 years.

The article is sprinkled with those qualities which can make a leader effective, and qualities that we associate with emotional intelligence:
  • He shows every sign of meaning what he said (Intentionality)
  • leaving divisive, destructive froth behind
  • (During the past 16 years) the press learnt that cynicism was the only reliable guide to understanding politics and that world-weariness was the same as wisdom
  • (getting out of) an emotionally familiar and comfortable rut
  • Gave his chief rival and fierce competitor "the biggest job in his government"
  • Has asked some Bush appointees to stay on
  • Obama acts like a kind of antacid to the American stomach
  • He has walked through the churn of racial and cultural and religious polarisation and somehow calmed everyone down
  • Obama's speech re: Jeremiah Wright: "That Obama wrote and delivered it as he heard in his ears every racial stereotype that had pummelled his psyche for his entire life bespoke an emotional maturity that still shocks."
  • He even managed ... to suck the drama out of the Clintons
  • He never took the Sarah Palin bait (As I say over and over in my Handling Difficult People ebook -- don't take the bait!)
  • Doesn't charm like Clinton did or Bush tried to ... he appears to have no need to be loved by everyone in the room
  • Often finds it hard to disguise how tired he feels (emotional expression ... )
  • At several points in the gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster of last year he simply disappeared alone into a hotel room for a few minutes to gather his thoughts and restrain his feelings.
  • More of a strategist than a technician
  • Blend of pragmatism and realism
  • Has the unerring instincts of a conciliator
  • Has the rhetorical skills of a Kennedy or a Churchill
  • Willingness to give others credit
  • to approach issues with dispassionate pragmatism
  • shift by symbols and speeches the mood and tenor of an entire country
Well that's just a taste. Read the article in its entirety; it's a good one. It ends with

Even now, as the outlook seems so dark, and as the inheritance seems so
insuperable, three words linger in the mind.

Yes he can.

And two words echo back at me.

Can we?

Which leads me, your blogger to sigh and pray:

Let's hope so.

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