“Obamaism is taking form”

Just copying/pasting this Roger Cohen column. Read!

 When an officer was commended to his attention, Napoleon is reported to have inquired: “Is he lucky?”

Luck is half the game. It’s no good having it and being incapable of using it. On the other hand, great striving may come to naught without luck. My sense is that President Barack Obama is a lucky man.

His early political breakthroughs in Chicago, and then in his campaign for the Senate, were helped by the implosion of his opponents, often in sex scandals. His election to the nation’s highest office became inevitable when his Republican rival went on walkabout as the economy collapsed. And now, quite suddenly, his presidency has been lifted from its troubles by the liberating Arab revolutions of 2011.

For a politician nothing matters quite as much as being able to move the spirit. Years may go by, history appear to stand still. Then, in the space of weeks, history accelerates, great events cascade upon each other, and the leader able to embody, define and propel them forward becomes forever identified with this transformative tide of hope.

In June 2009, Obama declared in Cairo: “I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from people; the freedom to live as you choose.”

Obama’s Mideast policy then veered this way and that. He struggled to find a consistent tone on Israel — and still does. He struggled to convince Muslims of the sincerity of his outreach.

So it’s hard to trace any direct strategic line between the Cairo speech and the revolutionary events that led to his wonderful 2/11 summation of the fall of Egypt’s despot, Hosni Mubarak: “We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.”

And yet, and yet! It has to be said that Obama intuited something, or so it now appears. He got lucky.

When, in celebrating the Egyptian people’s peaceful triumph, he quoted Martin Luther King on this great awakening of Arab peoples determined to assert their dignity and gain their freedom, he looked a president in full, a man ensconced on the right side of history.

By contrast, the American right has found itself tied up in knots, wondering how to disentangle the words “freedom” and “Arab,” the first demanding its hard-wired allegiance, the second demanding its Israel-dictated skepticism. Pity the poor Republican newbies, once so full of certainties, confronted by a nuanced world!

This is an uprising of Arabs, by Arabs, for Arabs. It started with a tiff over a fruit cart in a small Tunisian town to which no American policymaker has ever paid a minute of attention. Much of its historic importance lies precisely in its indigenous nature, now a wellspring of Arab pride.

Obama has managed to seize this moment without stealing it. Yes, there were wobbles. But he was fast to hail Tunisians fighting for their rights, he pushed the Egyptian transition through influence over the army, he restrained the violent initial instincts of the ruling al-Khalifa family in Bahrain, and now he is pressing hard to oust Libya’s lunatic tyrant, Muammar el-Qaddafi.

If this is the overdue collapse of a rotten American-backed order in the Middle East, it is also one that suggests the postmortems on American power are once again premature.

The Arab spring continues to unfurl at great speed. There are big risks. One is a Libyan vacuum. But there are also immense possibilities now that Arabs can gather, organize and direct their lives, rather than blame others for their powerlessness. I believe 2011, in its passage from Arab rage to Arab responsibility, can be the true antidote to 2001.

For that to happen, Obama will have to keep harvesting fortune, being at his best when the pressure is greatest. European nations that freed themselves from Communist tyranny in 1989 had the safe house of the European Union to aspire to. How can the West help forge the new regional safe house of emergent Arab democracies? Obama must bring the best minds to bear on that question and a related one: How to coax Israel from its paralyzing siege mentality into seizing this moment to seek peace?

Obamaism is taking form. Its themes are nonviolence, youth-driven social media as engines of change and limiters of autocratic brutality, and the universality of those rights listed in Cairo. I am feeling more hopeful about the world than at any time since 2001. The authoritarian decade, led by China and Russia, has run its course. And the most powerful man in the world happens to be a lucky man.

Machiavelli wrote: “I believe it is probably true that fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do, leaving the other half or so to be controlled by ourselves.” Obama has “controlled” his luck — and I suspect he will ride it now to a second term.


145 thoughts on ““Obamaism is taking form”

  1. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    +############### ++++ +++++###########++

    FIRED UP…!!

    READY TO GO..!!!

  2. Finally someone giving him credit for starting this sea change of democracy. it will take Rachel to put this together. Great read BWD.

  3. Thanks for posting this excellent article. I had read it earlier this morning and was hoping you’d see it and comment on it. One tiny quibble: it’s Roger Cohen, not Richard.

    Love all the work you do here, BWD.

  4. I must disagree with this column. Obama didn’t get lucky. He is blessed. And his Cairo speech DID have something to do with the uprising in Egypt. Obama was anointed by Almighty God for such a time as this.

  5. I dunno how lucky he is to have so many issues that have been simmering for decades (some, at least) explode now on his watch. The near collapse of the world financial system and the American auto industry. Corrupt lack of oversight in the MMS leading to BP’s well blowout. The complete, utter, total intransigence of the Republican party. The strange inability of the media to report on the accomplishments of the administration and the consequent accusations of failure to communicate. The conspiracy to destroy the union movement in the U.S.

    Oh, I forgot. Two wars in Asia and Bibi Netanyahu.

    Who’s lucky is us that he’s managing to cope pretty damn finely with all this.

  6. That’s a great article. Thank you for sharing with us. I love the part about the Republicans getting twisted up in knots trying to detach the word freedom from the word Arab.

    I am so glad that our President had the good sense to get out of the way of change in the Middle East. Yeah, he was lucky these events occurred on his watch. But more than lucky, he was wise in his approach.

    Who is really lucky is the Middle East that our President was Obama and not McCain. McCain would have bungled this beyond all measure.

    And lets please continue to remember that the ‘revolution’ that took place in Egypt was begun by grassroots organizers at least two if not more years ago. All our President did was give a speech. The Egyptians did all the work.

  7. This is my favorite opinion piece of March 2011, so far. Nice touch – that luck stuff – good way to handle things without looking like you’ve just complimented the President (that was only a little snarky, because Roger Cohen did compliment him). Anyway, I feel it’s brilliance on PBO’s part, but at least somebody’s moved it up a notch to luck from the point of non-stop bashing.

  8. Good Morning Everyone

    So good to read the positive story about Obama, hear about recovery in manufacturing and hear about the struggles in Wisconsin.

    I have a suggestion –
    to everyone who is lives in a state that is holding a protest for labor this weekend

    Before the rally – write or call your local media and ask them if they plan to cover the rally. Be pesty.

    We attended the SF rally in CA last Saturday and I have yet to see an article from MSM.

    This story by Alternet is great


    but it is not MSM.

    So pressure to cover the stories is a good thing.

  9. Calling it luck is not giving him any credit. I think Mr. Cohen needs to watch the 2008 election responses from around the globe to see the excitement Obama brought, and then listen to the Cairo speech again.

    Now this is about Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans and President Obama will be the first to say as much, but President Obama is all about empowering normal folks to be the change they want and talking about universal truths that every man and woman know to be true. Everybody is quick to say Obama played it wrong or should have did this instead of that both in Egypt and now Libya – if folks said he did something wrong and it went right, wouldn’t it then make sense to say he did something right other than saying he got lucky?

    I don’t hear critics saying “Obama was unlucky” when they percieve him to have made a wrong move.

  10. So true, The word luck i would remove an put blessed also, he is not done. Wait until he visits south America.

  11. Tien Le – Your last two sentences are understood and true.

    I’m thinking of all the other speeches, however, that changed the world. And (contemporaneously) what first popped in my head was the now-Governor Patrick-inspired remarks of President Obama on “Just Words?”

    And that made me smile.

  12. Call Al Jazeera. It’s really the only shot it will get covered. MSM is already bored with the story. The only time they’ll cover it now is if there is an incident or if the crowd size dwindles – than that will be big news.

    Walker keeps telling the Senators that the MSM will get bored and the protesters will go home once there is no coverage and then they win. It needs to be a bigger and bigger rally – gotta keep the faith.

    Walker is also hoping the federal budget standoff will knock their protests off the front page.

  13. you are right, they probably will be to busy looking for a interview with Charlie Sheen, that seems to be more important.

  14. Great article… but I agree that our president is not just lucky, he is also bloody BRILLIANT, and that his Cairo speech rocked the Arab world, and sowed the seeds of the present uprising, IMHO. Thanks for sharing this one, BWD!

  15. Good to hear that Cohen, for a change, is actually saying some positive things about PBO. He often doesn’t. He even stated he has optimism, though I disagree that the reason his Presidency is looking better has to do with current Middle Eastern Arabic matters (perhaps he was not paying attention to all of the legislative successes the Pres had with a rather conservative Congress – and thennnn there was that “Lame Duck” thang). HowEVer…..

    He, like a lot of others, is STILL having trouble with the actual ABILITY that PBO has. “Luck”. Allllll of what have been witnessing in the turning around of our country is due to “luck”. Really???????

    President Barack Obama, amongst other things, is a human, direct, walking, breathing and, dare I say it…? THINKING affront to the notion of white male supremacy. And, we are still gonna have some hiccups and indigestion (lonnng overdue) about this as we go forward. But, BWD and community, I s’pose we gotta start somewhere.

    As always, THANK YOU for your hard and EXcellent work. It is so VERY true that we all look forward to your daily postings. It is paying off, BWD. It honestly is.

  16. Well, at least it’s a positive article.

    I think he misses the mark in REALLY connecting the dots and REALLY understanding the formation of PBO’s character and world-view that has been in the making since he was a child. That world-view is what has enabled him to be the right man at the right time, moreso than “luck” (and trust me, I love luck!).

    The writer is trying to quantify something he doesn’t *quite* have a handle on. This is probably the best he could do without thinking more deeply on the topic. Not a bad effort.

  17. There is an element of “luck” throughout his career. Some may call it “blessed”. I don’t believe in either. I believe in this man’s astonishing brilliance. But, it’s nice to read a feel-good article that actually connect PBO to some major changes going on in the world right now.

  18. Great article, and I do agree it isn’t luck. Obama really does know what he is doing. Nothing is done by chance. He is thinking of all things not just the moment. At first I too was disappointed in things not moving fast enough, now I see the changes he is making have foundation. Not something that can be changed in the next breath by those who disagree. Again I am so thankful he is President!

  19. SR, you are exactly right about this. They just refuse to give him proper credit without pushing some back-handed compliment. But as jacquelineboomer indicated, they have to take small steps, going from outright bashing to calling him “lucky.”

  20. Agree St. Roscoe.. the whole ‘luck’ thing doesn’t sit well with me. This is man who makes his luck imo. And frankly to write about the revolutions in Egypt and Libya as ‘lucky’ for POTUS.. is in my opinion kind of icky.

    POTUS is about ‘self empowerment’. I really think thats what so many on the far right, the far left and the media fail to really get.. or choose to ignore. He ain’t about running the show, he’s about folks uniting and making choices.. he chooses to stay out of the way, except to lead by example- to continually point to the fact that: The moral arc of Justice is long- but it bends toward justice. I don’t think theres been anything lucky about these two years for President Obama- two wars, a country/world in economic disarray.. republicans run amok and the Professional left and media placing obstacles in his way day in and day out. This is a man with a plan.. implementing that plan and building bridges over under and around the obstacles. He’s trying to make a better world.. and he’s been asking folks all along to get in the mix, grab a mop and help him do it. In my opinion.

  21. I’m not into foreign adventurism and hope beyond hope that the Libyan crisis does not escalate into war.

    I love this insight:
    Pity the poor Republican newbies, once so full of certainties, confronted by a nuanced world!

    I’d substitute “Republican newbies” for “ideologues and fundamentalists everywhere” who are indeed in an uncomfortable period of nuance and subtlety, which is a very poor match with the sort of moral certitude, righteousness, and “fix it now, it’s easy.”

  22. Great read BWD, it brought me joy.

    Hey guys, I’m on my way to South Africa for a couple of weeks, so look after POTUS and the country for me, and keep an eye on those crazy Republicans and the PLs :). I’ll check in and see what’s going on. Peace.

  23. He is showing why the Peace award was the proper award for a peaceful man.

  24. He’s extremely competent and is exhibiting the characteristics of what is to me, true leadership: showing people how we can empower ourselves and improve our lives by sticking together, with the crowd-sourced ideas stronger and smarter than those produced by any one individual. *That* is leadership. Because the changes will outlast one person, and will not be dependent upon one person. It is less satisfying in terms of people who kind of buy into a different style of leadership in which one person of strong will simply imposes that will ostentatiously this way or that. I definitely understand how and why that style of leadership can be compelling, but what President Obama is doing is going to have so much farther reaching consequences and already has delivered so much more in terms of domestic improvements than the other, more combative, style would be able to garner IMO.

  25. Why isn’t The UK mor involve, they wait until he makes a statement. really Libya is a ally to Italy, UK, France.

  26. I tend you agree with you BWD, that it’s neither “luck” or “blessing” that is primarily at play here, even though they have contributed to the overall package.

    Obama is intellectually gifted – that is true. But I know many, many intellectually gifted individuals who have done rather poorly in life. Obama appears to have worked hard at cultivating a special type of character – one that when combined with his intelligence produces this amazing and unique way of looking at the world, seeing the long view and big picture. Obama is not someone who has had a “happy dreamy” life, (absent father, drug abuse at an early age, identity issues, initial loss in congressional bid, nicotine dependence for most of adult life), but he seemed to used of all this relative “misfortune” as learning tools, not excuses for failure.

  27. Spot on. The truly conscious leader perceives the totality of everyone and everything, speaks his truth and never wanders into victim mode. Hence, what some call “luck” is what I perceive to be someone in true vibrational harmony – by choice, a far cry from simply “no-drama”.

    Just saw a headline on MSNBC, saying “Obama a “formidable” candidate for 2012″. Gee, ya think? I love what Howard Fineman said last week in reference to critics wanting him to go to WI: “Never get in the way of the enemy destroying themselves.”

    The day will come when the talk of the day will be complete wonderment at how so many failed to see just how “lucky” we were to have this President, exactly when we did. Thanks again for this daily opportunity for us to appreciate him NOW.

  28. I would take a risk and say love, integrity, and dedication are annointed by God. I believe the arch of history does bend toward justice. In my opinion President Obama fully and sincerely believes in the principles that directed Ghandi and Martin Luther King. He is not a pacifist but he does always move to a position of waging peace instead of war as soon as he can. The other important difference in our President is that absolutely no one is a means to him, everyone is an end.

  29. Hi gn and community,

    I agree that President Obama is all about self empowerment and joining with others to make it a reality. Bottom line: we need to exhibit our own leadership.

    Now I know times are tough for many of us, yet I fervently hope that all of you who can will contribute $75+ to OFA for their summer organizing training program. We got to get started on 2012; we are going to need a large and enthusiastic ground game to counteract the huge $$$$$ coming to the republicans in the wake of Citizens United.

    Thanks for reading; be blessed.

  30. Study Plan for 3/1/2011

    QUES: How’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?

    ANS: Very well thank-you.

    You will be tested on this question next week. Please study hard, or else you will fail the test.

  31. Aquagranny,

    You are a tireless force of good in your state, AZ. I’m so happy that you have something positive to report about your state.


  32. I love Africa. Have a great time and please give us some on the spot insight when you come back.

  33. I have felt such an amazing connection to those in the Middle East who have managed to transform their situation and to those who have yet to.

  34. Fearless????

    Issues incoherent statements from the comfort of her keyboard via facebook & twitter.

    Will not allow herself to be interviewed by a real journalist since infamous Katie Couric interview.

  35. I sent out a $50 check last week and will send more per your suggestion. Times are hard, but we are at a crucial moment in this country. Thanks!

  36. Going by the comments I will guess this is a good article and god knows this potus deserves all accolades. Unfortunately I stopped reading at the “lucky” business.

    President Obama is brilliant. He has both the brains of his academically studious dad and his equally academic yet emphatic, soulful, dreamer mom. Those combination created the most brilliant yet empathic president I have ever witnessed.

    Lucky are people like the court appointed former president Bush or the former half term governor from Alaska . The democratically elected president Obama worked his ass off for all he has achieved and nothing has been given to him certainly no luck.

  37. Luck is the secular definition of Blessed. It requires no acknowledgement of a deity but describes the same phenomenon.

  38. Funny – I went to leave a comment on Roger Cohen’s opinion page (brilliance vs. luck), and already comments are closed (after 90). The comments aren’t worth reading from my perspective and after a quick scan, although many were right on point.

    Don’t know why I bothered, but if a million people could toss their 2 cents in, it might make somebody in at least the print media notice. But 90? Not so much.

  39. I read this article and found it to be a knife in the back. Luck? No, it’s political skill. Luck is what Bush had–born into that family of power and $, a father having his hand in the CIA, friends who circled around him and no talking of his escapades. Bush took advantage for years of the 9/11 incident–to the max; then there was that whole UN escapade of WMDs, mission accomplished. I don’t personally like someone who writes backhanded such as this fellow.
    Hey, the Judge ordered the WI capital to be opened. The Union petitioned this a.m. Also, Milwaukee city attorney opined in a letter to Walker that his program was unconstitutional, to have the state AG check. BTW, State AG is Republican. Like Bush and Gonzalez. Remember that?

  40. Great post! Anyone who thinks it was all “luck” that this Prez kept us from a serious depression, gave us the beginning of viable health care, rescued our auto industry, made an oil Co clean up it’s own mess,etc. plus dealt with serious world issues while totally keeping his cool is not ‘thinking’ at all.

    I think if PBO was a wrinkled old white guy they would be talking about his “skill and intelligence.” Because he is a (very cute, imo) young black guy, it just has to be “luck” not the fact that he really knows what he is doing.

  41. I take what you guys are saying and lean towards Saint Roscoe’s analysis, but I really have had some days in which I wondered if God loves President Obama a little more than the rest of us, so I can understand those who disagree and consider the POTUS lucky and blessed. I just think that he has some outstanding characteristics which, due to his humility, fly under the radar.

  42. Apparently the same one my bookstore lives in. Yesterday I took my son to the only bookstore in our town.. we go frequently as he is an avid reader.. and of late they’ve been giving him advance reader copies to ‘review’. Last week I made a comment to the clerk there about the Sarah Palin book being front and center.. yesterday Palin’s book had been joined by the current books of Bush and Beck.. so right as one walks in the door, they’re greeted by the likes of those three. Now in this town- thats “cool”.. because folks here see those three as heroes. But it disgusted me and frankly I questioned why there wasn’t some balance, possible a liberal author or two? The clerk’s response: Oh there aren’t any good liberal writers.. the only liberal writer is Al Gore (stated with a yucky frown). I said: Omg, most GOOD authors are liberal.. and to consider Palin a good writer- someone who can’t even hold a job, Bush- the guy who wrecked our country for 8 years.. and Beck a racist- to be ‘good writers’… is ludicrous. He just looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Maybe I have. I’m just getting completely fed-up with how folks remove themselves morally anymore from the horrific behavior of other folks- long as they can make a dime off it, or as long as it’s not negatively touching their lives personally. Anyhoo.. rant over 😉

  43. The jackals are gathering. Press Secretary Jay Carney press briefing should be starting shortly.

  44. More encouraging news

    A story about how Microsoft is supporting military retraining for vets, also a video of a wonded warrior (13 minutes but the end is very touching).

    I have always been impressed by how much FLOTUS and POTUS have done for the military.


  45. Very excellent post!

    There has been a lot said about PBO playing chess. I have always seen him as a very skilled poker player. Poker does require some luck and anyone can win with all the right cards. The real skill is in winning when you get dealt a crap hand. “It’s knowing when to show’um, when to fold’um, when to walk away…”
    He plays his cards just right, imho.

    As for all of us, you are so correct that we also need to step up to the table and get in this game. I’ll ante. I’m so totally in!

  46. I’ll reluctantly agree to the idea of the current occupant of the White House being a beneficiary of luck as long as we’re using that classic definition of luck: preparation meeting opportunity.

    President Obama has a deep, intuitive sense of timing and judgement. His game is poker. He knows when to hold them, when to fold them and when to walk way.

    He doesn’t show fear or favor to the whims of the moment as his fiercest detractors within his party and outside of it do. He stays true to himself and a takes the long view.

    In the the line of work that he is in, staying centered is a hard-won emotional intelligence that does not provide instant gratification but almost always pays off, then when it does friends and foe alike call it luck.

    But blind luck is an inadequate explanation for every favorable outcome that has come his way.

    Like his predecessor to the senatorial seat, Carol Mosely-Braun was lucky and benefited from the scandals going in Washington at the time to became a historic senator from Illinois. Yet their career paths took very different directions due to how they leveraged their historic opportunities.

    Like Rev. Jesse Jackson, his Presidential candidacy was derailed by a racially charged moment, but their career paths took very different different directions, in part by how they rose to their unfortunate occasions.

    Whether it’s the race speech, or in the middle of the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression, or in the middle of decision to save General Moters. He has an uncanny sense of the larger picture rather than just the moment he is in, and operates from that vision. And it happens over and over.

    Rather than mere luck, that sounds like a habit of good sense based on following what’s true, rather than what’s politic; unconventional insight vs. conventional wisdom. In my opinion, we’re the lucky ones.

  47. Heh.. I’m okay with that: God loves him more, lol.

    I absolutely agree with this gn:

    I just think that he has some outstanding characteristics which, due to his humility, fly under the radar.

    Which is why he needs us… to not only speak out about his outstanding characteristics, but also to inform the public of all that he’s accomplishing, and not by luck, but by perserverance and hard work and common sense.. and his own brand of brilliance. I object to the whole luck concept as it puts me very much in mind of the whole attitude of lack of responsibility. POTUS is a person, imo, that looks ahead of the immediate step, the ‘reaction’ to a situation.. he thinks, he plans, he discusses.. he decides. He’s got leadership down to a science, imo. No bluster, no chest beating.. and luck is a mere factor as are many things.. but I think the greatest of these factors- is a smart man, being very smart, very thoughtful and very decisive… and utter calm, rational sense. I think the luck bothers me in that its seems a bit of patronizing toward POTUS.. once again taking power away from who he is.. and his capabilities. Maybe I’m being too sensitive here, lol.

  48. Excellent Fired-Up.. this I can agree with..great insight.. and I like this:

    luck: preparation meeting opportunity.

  49. Eggs Zactly to this:

    Allllll of what have been witnessing in the turning around of our country is due to “luck”. Really???????

    President Barack Obama, amongst other things, is a human, direct, walking, breathing and, dare I say it…? THINKING affront to the notion of white male supremacy. And, we are still gonna have some hiccups and indigestion (lonnng overdue)

    Well stated Blackman, thank you.

  50. He also picked a terrific wife who seems to understand the value and importance of POTUS’ emotional stability, and thus cloistered off family life from the demands of the office, providing a refuge whether POTUS realizes that he needs it or not from day to day. That is a very intelligent thing for FLOTUS to do. Imagine if POTUS had chosen someone less laid back; I think that FLOTUS’ simple ordering of homelife has significant benefits to this country, amongst the many other things which she does from her own office.

  51. You are spot on! I too love your comment. I am always a lurker and I love most of the comments here.

  52. Thanks Pamela, I’ve been sending $10. month for two months now and will continue through the elections at least.

  53. How exciting Starm.. I hope you’ll come back and share your experiences with us.

  54. I’ll tell you what bothers me: that clerk told me previously that he’s a teacher here in town. Good grief- now you know why I have got to leave this place, lol.

  55. Tien, I do agree that the people deserve credit for these changes, but if the president had not decided to stand behind the protesters than I am not so sure as to what would have happened.

    We have supported these dictators for decades. We know there was some divisiveness between the state department and PBO.

    In my mind, it is revolutionary that PBO decided to stand with those looking for change. Obama could have stood with Mubarak or just stayed out of the struggle in Egypt.

    Obama broke the long pattern of supporting rulers rather than the people.

  56. Agree that FLOTUS is key here, she too exemplefies Leadership.. two fine people who managed quite thoughtfully to find and keep one another and create a balance that also benefits this country.. even those who don’t realize the benefits.

    I would add VP Biden to that mix in another way: another supportive, stable enabler to POTUS’ leadership.. and a fine leader in his own right… no wishy-washy noodle is our VP ;).. and yet doesn’t need the limelight- another great balancer to President Obama.

  57. Indeed there is an element of luck, but I also believe in the concept of fate. I truly believe Obama was meant to be here at this time of great upheaval.

  58. There is one word I would add to the analysis and that is: authenticity. Barack Obama is both brilliant and authentic. His political agenda has always rested on a number of unshakeable values. His policies are subject to fierce and often vitriolic attacks, but behind all the din, the man remains the same. His core of decency and trustworthiness cannot be successfully assailed. Luck implies a certain amount of gamesmanship, of moving with the currents of a changing world. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is the unmovable center, carefully guiding the nation through the storms.

  59. Great rant! I am so happy that you STOOD and spoke your mind. That garbage needs to be confronted every time.

  60. I don’t object it, and I’d like to think that indeed there’s a reason why him and no one else. But i always tend to look for more earthly explanations. Maybe he’s lucky, maybe he’s a godsend, and maybe he’s simply a true genius. Whatever it is, I’m glad to be living in a time where i can actually watch this man operating. It’s a sight to behold.

  61. “he plays his cards just right”. I agree.. no matter the hand he’s been dealt- he uses whats been given him to further a better world for ALL of us.

  62. Luck is not a negative. It does not decrease what the president has accomplished.

    I am going with GN on this. I believe this was indeed meant to be PBO’s time. There are many brilliant, incredible people, who deserve glory, but most of them at best become a footnote. Obama came to us at a time in which his steadfast hand was needed.

    Indeed it does seem as if God loves PBO a little more, or perhaps God just recognized the president’s potential.

  63. Thanks AG.. it wasn’t a hit with my 11 year old son, lol. He felt I was too hard on his “friend” the bookstore clerk.. which stuck in my craw a bit.. but I think thats part of being his age – I explained to him why I thought I needed to speak out. I’ll say this though: It will have done no good, these folks here are oblivious and unconcerned about the rest of the world generally speaking. When I moved here 8 years ago, I said it’s like an island unto itself- they really are very much about memememe here (ND)- at least that has been my unpleasant experience.

  64. Totally agree with that GN! Michelle is a woman of great courage, accomplishment and compassion. She is a tremendous role model for our young women. She loves her husband and her family and it shows in everything she says and does.

    Her compassion is great enough to reach out to every family in America. There is nothing contrived or “fake” about what she is doing as FLOTUS. She really cares and is committed to making lives better for children and families. This positive energy shines through every thing she does.

    How wonderful it is to have a real loving family in the WH, at a time when we most need to be inspired. This country is both “lucky” and “blessed.”

  65. LOL, needs a remedial course in kindergarten to relearn: sharing fairly, playing well with others.

    Folks, raise your hand if you’ve never paid $25M in a penalty settlement to the federal government for stealing oil from federal and Native American lands?

    /Charles, put your hand down, immediately:


    In May, 2001, Bill Koch [one of the two other Koch brothers who is not involved in what Charles and David are doing] and Koch Industries announced a legal settlement of all their disputes, effectively putting an end to the two-decade family feud. The settlement calls for Koch Industries to pay $25 million in penalties to the U.S. government for improperly taking more oil than it paid for from federal and Indian lands. About a third of it goes to Bill Koch or bringing the lawsuit.



    You guys should read the whole thing; this is from the year 2000 and provides analysis of Koch Industries; warning: it’s really ugly. Amazing that he’s trying to play the victim!

  66. BWD, maybe it is just us who are “lucky and blessed” to have this man, at this time, leading our country.

  67. Small lol, almost teenagers do get embarrassed by parents displaying emotion or controversy in public and it gets worse as the kiddos get older but by 20 or so he will tell you how much he admires your courage etc.

    Keep STANDING and keep telling your son why you do this. “As the twig is bent, so the tree grows.”

    I do have great sympathy for you as I also live in a place like you describe. The walls here are adobe and very hard at times.

  68. You are so right, Sherijr, he’s not only an affront to narrow minded misconceptions about black men, he also refuses to fit any of the other pigeonholes they try to put him in. It’s easier for Cohen to call the president lucky than to try to stretch his own ordinary mental framework to understand him.

    I remember hearing that one professor at Harvard who had the young President Obama as a student in his class, said that he demonstrated an “incandescent intelligence” –a quality I’m sure is extremely rare at Harvard or anywhere else. Combine that with brilliant interpersonal skills, an abiding sense of humility, an extraordinary ability to focus and plan, a deep serenity, and–what can I say?–an “incandescent charisma and you’ve got someone who out thinks and out classes everyone in sight. Hack columnists, lazy reporters and ordinary pols not only don’t get it, they can’t keep up.

  69. I saw a brief interview with poor charlie Sheen. It was like watching a train wreck. He looks terrible, makes no sense and should be hospitalized for his own good, not trotted out like a trick pony for ratings points.

    Our MSM sucks shitty lemons!

  70. It is ugly but then so many of these “titans of industry” are very ugly when you see what they believe and what the are inside.

    Thanks for the links.

  71. I love that article and I think that President Obama is the right man at the right time. America you did good!

  72. OK, what I really dislike about this is the “luck” thing. It reminds me of the quote various attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Goldwyn & Gary Player: “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

    Once again Obama is held to that Black “standard.” White people work hard for their accomplishments, Black people are “lucky.” You can see this in the sports pages. White players have to work hard. Black players have natural talent.

    Barack Obama had to work hard for everything before and after being elected POTUS. In the hands of another president, the past two years could have been a record of foreign and domestic catastrophe. The fact that it has been nothing of the kind isn’t because of “luck.” Failure may be blamed on “luck” but success comes from intelligent work.

  73. McCain would have blown it. W. would have blown it. they would have shot off their ignorant mouths without thinking of the consequences. We’d probably be sending the military.

    So it’s not luck. It’s how a leader responds to difficult situations. WE are the ones who are lucky that our president is Barack Obama.

    If only 45% of Americans would wake up. Like the MI citizens who think they would fare better under Romney than Obama. What the hell is the matter with people?

  74. Lucky??? no!!!!!, not luck but rather intelligence. That idiot along with many other hatters cannot allow themselves to accept the fact the PBO is brilliant,highly intelligent,patient and really gets it. But he is right POB will be re-elected by a huge margin. We are back on our feet(USA) and i owe this to PBO”s brilliance,intelligence and patience.

  75. I’m now living in the Land of Lincoln, and I’m “following” a gentleman from Ohio who has an “HonestAbrahamLincoln” page on Facebook. He is reconstructing Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural journey – in the voice and time of Lincoln. Today, he wrote:

    “I have been hearing from others that in your present day 2011, that Democrats in the state of Wisconsin and Indiana are in hiding due to a vote they wish to avoid about workers. Before you condemn them too harshly, I must admit I and my fellow Whigs did the same thing on December 5, 1840 in Springfield. We literally jumped out of the window when the doors were locked behind us … it was over a debate about a state bank in Illinois … “

  76. I think what really bothers me with the word luck or lucky to describe what the President has accomplished is that it somehow implies that he didn’t work to achieve anything. I’ve heard people talk about affirmative action this same way. They say that the only reason many people are successful is due to affirmative action, in this way they negate the intelligence and hard work that that individual put into his/her achievements. I’ve always thought that affirmative action or luck or anything, only gets you to the Door of Opportunity, one needs to open the Door with hard work and using the gifts of Intelligence,Kindness,Empathy..ect,to turn that opportunity to success.

  77. I read that somewhere else and it made me laugh so hard at my inner visual of old Abe, long legs and stovepipe hat climbing out a window to stand against a vote for a bank. What a concept!

    The times, they do not change but we can laugh and keep on STANDING UP!

  78. Perhaps the American President, still being the most prominent leader in the world, carries with him a zeitgeist, an intangible, multidimensional ambience that extends its tentacles across the globe. All experiences are, after all, just the tip of the iceberg pushing up onto the surface from the depths of a vast array of factors which gave them birth. As Lyra Kilston writes: “. . . thought precedes action (or should), so carving out space for the impossible might spark radical change.”

  79. Yes, and old Abe had a great sense of humor! He needed it (just as PBO does!).

  80. What I want to see right now is President Obama standing up for labor and collective bargaining just like he said he’d do during the campaign. Up until now he has been AWOL. Barack Obama is harder on his friends and easier on his sworn enemies than any president I have ever known. When oh when is he ever going to realize that about 40% of the population are basically Fascist bigots who would never vote for a black man under any circumstances. There is no use trying to appeal to these people. They HATE President Obama and everything he does to placate them only makes them hate him more. He needs to kick some serious ass and the sooner the better!

  81. Absolutely on point. Personally I am always suspicious when the word “luck” is bandied about to explain the accomplishments of people of color. To this date no one says Reagan was “lucky” when the Soviet Union disintegrated. He is fully credited with “AGENCY.

    Now as you rightly state, here’s a President who has steely resolve and grit to face all the muck that previous leaders have kicked down the road. And he is “lucky”?

  82. “Up until now he has been AWOL.”

    Sorry Jim, but this statement is factually incorrect.

    And President Obama got to be President BECAUSE he knows exactly what these “fascist bigots” that you speak of are about. If he wanted to “placate” them, he would not even run for President in the first place. I guess you are one of those people who believe that he got to be President by sheer luck?

  83. But the DECISION not to get in the way of the protesters is a very crucial shift in American foreign policy that has ALWAYS been meddlesome.

    This was not the first time Egyptian or any other Middle Eastern groups have tried to rise up against their corrupt leaders. But previous attempts died on the drawing board or in the streets because we heavy-handedly helped those corrupt leaders to crush the demonstrators when our interests were at stake — e.g. El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Congo, Kenya, South Africa during Apartheid etc…

    I can give you countless examples from sub-Saharan Africa where the US government & CIA actively supported the assassination of progressive leaders, and anti-government protesters.

    Today, the youth in the Middle East at least can trust that we will not impede their aspirations. That is a BFD.

  84. sherijr, I think you have summed up quite succinctly the ambience I was attempting to express in my remark above, which I will repeat here as I stand behind it:
    Perhaps the American President, still being the most prominent leader in the world, carries with him a zeitgeist, an intangible, multidimensional ambience that extends its tentacles across the globe. All experiences are, after all, just the tip of the iceberg pushing up onto the surface from the depths of a vast array of factors which gave them birth. As Lyra Kilston writes: “. . . thought precedes action (or should), so carving out space for the impossible might spark radical change.”
    Self-empowerment is a fine term for the ambience, whereas Bush’s zeitgeist was all about “us” dominating over “them”. No surprise 9/11 happened under his watch.

  85. Maybe they don’t know that the President is an award winning author? Poor things…

  86. You might want to listen to the President’s speech from yesterday, where he confronted the governors who have been vilifying the state workers. You may also want to listen to a speech he did at the beginning of the Wisconsin struggle, where he spoke about the plight of the Wisconsin workers, supporting their right to protest and be unionized.

    As for being AWOL – he’s been fighting for the middle class since he got into the Oval office.

    He never forgets that he’s the president of the entire country; not just those who agrees with him. He can’t simply fly off the handle and demonize the right wingers, no matter how good that may feel, because they rely on him being their president, too. And he always leaves a door open for them to come through and work with him – even when they are more interested in destroying him.

    His style has accomplished things that have been a century in waiting. I’d rather he be true to himself, and continue to be successful, rather than imitating the worst characteristics that may be momentarily satisfying, but ultimately unproductive and damaging.

  87. Hey wonderful,
    I just returned from there this past January. They are almost at the start of their Autumn over there so pack some warm clothes. Joburg? Cape Town, Pretoria? or where?

    Enjoy, and we’ll kept Pres. Obama nice and safe for you..

  88. Actually Cameron has been saber rattling threatening to fly military planes over there. It seemed he was trying some one-upmanship, which prompted the conservative UK Daily Telegraph to insult Pres. Obama yesterday and castigate the one “superpower” for “embarrassing tardiness”.

    The noise seemed so well coordinated with the neo-con letter signed by 40 war-mongering has-beens beating the military option drums. It was sickening.

  89. When I was younger, I felt that I was so unlucky because nothing good happened to me. As I got older (mid-twenties) I realized that I was very blessed and realized that I held a lot of negative thoughts and took too many things for granted. After I changed my frame of mind and appreciated all the small things in life that are free – a beautiful day, a close parking spot, finding a $ in the street, a good job – my “luck” changed with my attitude. President Obama has a positive attitude and always sees and thinks the best of people, even his enemies and frienimes.

  90. “…As for being AWOL – he’s been fighting for the middle class since he got into the Oval office….”

    W/o question, Jim Porter, what Theo67 has stated above, is true. But, you should check it out for yourself:

    Middle Class Task Force

    The Task Force is a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America. It is comprised of top-level administration policy makers, and in addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities. The Task Force will be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. The Vice President and members of the task force will work with a wide array of federal agencies that have responsibility for key issues facing the middle class and expedite administrative reforms, propose Executive orders, and develop legislative and policy proposals that can be of special importance to working families…


  91. I believe that President Obama is the sum of all the parts that have shaped him in his life. A mother who wasn’t afraid to step out of the box to empower people of Indonesia. His early life experience in Indonesia. Having a genius for a father even though he didn’t quit achieve his dreams. Being exposed in his worldview by his trips to every state in the union with his grandmother Going to Africa to find his other side. His awakening that “we are one”

    His grandparents each different. Pop who had the humor and Toot who stayed on focus to rise to being the first lady Vice President of a bank in Hawaii.

    The mixture of of genes that produced a brilliant person.

    His experience as President of Harvard Law Journal where different factions who refused to compromise and negotiate, with his suble suggestions, would come together with each having a smile on their face when they walked out the door.

    His experience as a community organizer and how empowerment of the people is the best gift you can give a person.

    Meeting Michelle and the dialogues I am sure they have had. Being surrounded by intelligent people of different backgrounds.

    All the above helped make him as a human being that could inspire others in the Cairo speech speaking to them with respect and recognizing basic human rights all aspire to.
    Raising the light within to actually take his words and give that final push of “You can do it” to those youth who were already connected and had the same dreams. He stepped back and wow, the dominos started to fall.

    Republicans can’t figure this man out when he hands over his goals and asked them to put the pieces of the puzzle together. They have never been challenged like this before. They don’t even now who Obama is? The haven’t figured him out yet.

    The problem is the press can’t figure him out either. They learned how to act under Bush and Obama is light years ahead of JWB. I read the press briefings and can’t understand the ignorance of these reporters They don’t get it. Jay Carney has to repeat his responses in so many different ways and there they are the next day asking ridiculous questions and listening to the same answers they didn’t learn the day before.

    He is a very unique man whose time has come at this particular point in history when we needed him most. When the world needed him most.

    I can’t imagine any other human being as President who could handle all these crises one after another. He has a good team but the decisions rest with him.


  93. Thanks BWD for all you do in bringing us information. With regard to the President being lucky, I beg to defer with Mr. Cohen. The President is a God fearing man, a man protected and annointed by God. Look what this President has gone thru, at every step of the way he has been dehumanized, disrespected and hated by right wing republicans/conservatives, and yes, even “christians”. Yet he continues to prevail… and he has beaten them at their own games. The president’s intelligence is second to none, he harbors no hatred towards anyone… he is leading this nation and consequently this world in the right path, and the haters cannot stand it. Take a careful look at the President’s accomplishments. Its mind boggling. What he has done in two (2) years is astounding!!! But the “opposition” will give him no credit….How dare a man of color so capable, so competent, so smart, so caring for his fellow men, so loved and respected around the world, except in the country of which he is the chief executive. BUT God is in control…He is protecting, guiding and watching over President Obama. All we have to do is watch His power at work and rejoice in the President’s success. Let us all continue to pray for our President and let the campaign for 2012 begin!!!

  94. Add to that the health care system in crisis, the immigration problem, climate change, and finally the transformation of the Arab world.

    You’re right. We’re the lucky ones.

  95. Meanwhile…

    Wisconsin Senate GOP Leadership Confiscates Paychecks of Missing Dem Senators’ Staff Members

    “Staff members of the 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats who skipped town 11 days ago rather than vote on an anti-union bill will now have to get their pay authorized by the Republican leader.”

    “Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Monday that he would take over the duties of reviewing and approving Democratic staff members’ timesheets. The Senate’s organizational committee run by Republicans approved the change giving Fitzgerald the authority rather than the Democratic senators.”

    “Fitzgerald is also not allowing Democratic lawmakers or their staff members to use Capitol copiers, saying there has been some “highly unusual usage” of the machines in recent days. Fitzgerald is also no longer allowing senators’ paychecks to be directly deposited. Instead, they are being held at the Capitol.”


  96. You should suggest three books by liberal writers, that could be displayed, for balance.

    Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein is a good read.

  97. Cohen seems to grudgingly give President Obama credit for the actions he took. Instead he gives most of the credit to the President’s luck. Although Cohen highlighted positive things about the President, I kept wondering why he was mainly framing the President’s successes as primarily a result of him being lucky.

  98. Very well said Observerinvancouver! It seems to me people in the MSM, as well as the anti-Obama leftists, always find a way to deny credit to President Obama for any of his accomplishments. As I read Cohen’s column I kept wondering why he was so focused on telling us how lucky President Obama is. It is as if he just couldn’t believe that Obama’s actions, other than his luck, had anything to do with the dramatic changes taking place in the MIddle East.

  99. There is really no way of proving or disproving whether President Obama is lucky, blessed, or not. My problem, and hear I agree with Saint Roscoe, is that crediting Obama’s successes to luck devalues his actions. I can’t recall any of the accomplishments of the other presidents being attributed to luck, except for the fundamentalists who believed that George W. Bush was chosen by God. Nevertheless, It was rewarding to see a MSM pundit write a positive column giving the President credit for what may turn out to be the most revolutionary changes in Middle East politics.

  100. Aquagranny;

    As always, you hit the nail on the head with your statement: ‘I think if PBO was a wrinkled old white guy they would be talking about his “skill and intelligence.”‘ I think that’s what bothered me about Mr Cohen’s column, which was for the most part very positive and complementary about the President. Focusing mainly on the President’s fails to appreciate his “skill and intelligence,” which have been absolutely crucial to the way he has responded to the current crisis in the Middle East.

  101. Luck??? Huh, he can’t be serious?

    Way before the Cairo speech, the author should have carefully listen to President Obama’s Inauguration speech, what he said about the Arab World.

    Obama Is Sworn In as the 44th President (January 21, 2009)

    To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

    To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

    To those…To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

    To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

    And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

    Lucky? This President already knew early on, how to deal with the Arab World>

    He must have forgotten that, a brilliant mind doesn’t equate to LUCK, rather a strategy in the making….. and it’s finally working.

    When would this journalist give this President full credit, without beating around the bushes? Hope to get lucky one day to read all about it…lol


  102. Well said Kelly. I read the article. If you judge it by the level of negativity that has dominated the MSM treatment of President Obama, Cohen’s article was indeed a good article that seemed to be praising the President. Unfortunately, Cohen’s praise was mainly about Obama being lucky while he said very little about Obama’ actions.. Other than quoting the inspirational passage from the President’s Cairo Speech, I just did no see any praise about the President’s firm and disciplined response to the fast moving events in the Mid-East. The fact that he was so disciplined to focus on rescuing all Americans from Libya has completely gone unnoticed. Although Cohen alludes to this, I think the most significant change in the approach by President Obama, compared to many of the other Presidents who came before him, was his avoidance of jingoistic rhetoric. Instead the President focused on praising the heroism of the people of the Middle-East who were bringing down these dictators.

  103. thanks and thanks bwd

    this roger cohen piece is just the thing to brighten up a february day in the northeast

    so many good things for so many people can happen with this “arab spring”, and, indeed, bho is continuing to be the symbol of an america that, adult-like, understands its responsibilities to the world

  104. Luck had nothing to do with it. Obama is a skilled statesman who knows that people yearn to be free. He didn’t end up making one of his first major foreign speeches by accident. Luck didn’t put him in front of hundreds of millions of eager Arabs and Muslims who wanted to hear the leader of the free world.

    No one knows what actually goes on behind the scenes in the White House or State Department, but Obama has played all the recent events as perfectly as one can in an imperfect world.

    Columns like Richard Cohen’s are false praise given begrudgingly because most pundits and arm chair generals on the right and the left cannot fathom the depth of Obama’s thinking—no offense to Charlie Sheen 😉

    Obama is a great man. A very great man. A man of destiny who will be remembered as one of the greatest president’s in history. I am certain of it.

  105. You probably won’t see this because we have moved to new threads but I just had to reply to your comment because it was so beautiful and profound. It IS all about how we frame our experience and how we see events in our own lives. I also think it is about being grateful for the good things no matter how small.

    I will share this. I have always felt lucky since I was a child. When I was about 8, I won a doll at a church fair. It was a doll I wanted so very much, one my parents could never afford to buy for me. I was so shocked when they called my name as the winner, that I actually fainted. After that I told myself and truly believed it that “I am the luckiest girl in the whole world.”

    That feeling has stayed with me through nearly 60 years and some difficult life events. It’s interesting how our early experiences shape our thoughts about both life and ourselves.

  106. AMEN SQUARED to that, David. Great comment and I share your belief about our Prez. It is our own “luck” and “blessing” to have this man lead us in these very trying times.

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