Very few things I hate more than linking to Huff-Crap, but Christina Patterson deserves all the love for this beautiful, moving, full of heart piece of writing:
There is a special relationship, but it isn’t between Barack Obama and David Cameron. It isn’t between America and Britain. It emerged in an interview on Sunday when Andrew Marr, whose eyes were shining in the way you might expect someone’s eyes to shine if they were on a date with Angelina Jolie, said the word “chemistry.” Suddenly, Obama’s eyes were shining, too. Obama smiled. It was like the sun coming out. They were talking about Obama’s “chemistry” with the Queen.
“They are,” said Obama, of the Queen and her spouse, “extraordinarily gracious people.” She could not, he said, “have been more charming.” She is,” he said, “the best of England.” “We are,” he said, “very proud of her.”
If I’d been the Queen, I think I’d have fainted with joy. I think I might even have broken my rule about boasting on Twitter. But the Queen tends not to faint. She tends not to boast. The Queen, who yesterday welcomed Barack and Michelle Obama to Buckingham Palace, and hosted a state banquet for them, and put them up in the suite where her grandson and his new bride spent their wedding night, but with specially bomb-proof double glazing installed by the secret service, chose instead to greet them with a 41-gun salute.
Obama is, if not O’Bama, also the real McCoy. He doesn’t smile when he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t, or at least he doesn’t seem to, say things he doesn’t mean. He doesn’t go for big displays of emotion. (When he tried to, over the BP disaster last year, he hit a rare wrong note.) Like the Queen, he is careful and steady. Like the Queen, too, he’s magnetic. He’s handsome. Of course he’s handsome. He’s the most powerful man in the world. But he has the quality that she has, too. It has something to do with knowing who you are, and something to do with calm.
It can’t be all that easy to know that when you want to make a trip to London, you have to do it with 200 secret service agents, and six doctors and several hundred aides. It can’t be all that easy to have to travel in a car that’s like a tank (which can withstand any form of attack except, it seems, a little ramp) and to know that you can’t walk down a street unless it’s lined with police. But Obama accepts this, and he doesn’t let it turn him into a foot-stamping, bottom-grabbing alpha male. He understands, as the Queen does, that these are the trappings of office, and that what really matters isn’t the trappings of office, but its responsibilities.
Barack Obama also knows that change takes time. “Once the transition process is complete,” he said to Andrew Marr, on the subject of Afghanistan, “you get into politics, and it’s going to be messy, it’s going to be difficult.” When Marr asked him about the mismatch between the man who said “we can”, and the man sitting in the White House now, he said this. “What I did,” he said, “was project a vision of where we need to go. I was very clear on election night that this was going to be a steep climb.”
It certainly is going to be a steep climb. You can’t take an economy that was near collapse, and suddenly turn it into one that gives all your citizens a living wage. You can’t suddenly revive industries that have died. You can’t suddenly cut your gas-guzzling voters off from the black stuff that keeps the show on the road. You can’t suddenly rewrite the politics of the Middle East.
But you can, if you’re very, very determined, pass a bill that means that 32 million Americans who didn’t have access to healthcare now do. You can stimulate the economy. You can create jobs. You can reform Wall Street. You can cut the world’s stock of nuclear weapons. And you can track down, and kill, a mass murderer.
You may, however, not be able to do all that much about a revolution that’s sweeping the Middle East. You may want to, but you can’t bring military intervention everywhere and when you have, it hasn’t always gone all that well. You may, in fact, do best to stick with what you’ve started, and get on with what you have to do at home.
“Most politicians,” said Obama to Andrew Marr, “spend their time talking, rather than listening. That,” he said, “is a habit that I try to break.” I’m sure the Queen would agree. I’m sure she’s also proud of him.
More good read, this time from Time (I’m very clever!):
The campaign’s larger strategy is to capitalize on its 2011 head start. Obama is an incumbent with no primary challenger, while Republicans are still fretting about when and whether to get into the race. No one in Chicago expects a cakewalk in 2012, not after two years of political battering. But they also know an opportunity when they see one. “I can’t tell you what a gift, if we use it properly, this year is,” says David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager. “If we don’t, shame on us.”
The Chicago plan will play out in places like the Denver suburb of Arvada with volunteers like Suzan Rickert, a recently retired health care worker. For more than 25 years, Rickert, 60, has been active with her local Democratic Party, and she has long been accustomed to caucus meetings with just four or five people in attendance, including her husband and her. But for a fleeting time, she says, something happened when Obama burst onto the scene. “In 2008 we had 80 people,” she remembers. “I want them to come back.”
A few weeks ago, she answered an online appeal for volunteers to donate 40 hours a week all summer working the phones and pavement for the President. She decided to put off her plan of starting a small business, after being assured that she would not be the only person over the age of 25 on the job
Of course, a great field organization alone is never enough to win a campaign. Obama will still need to hone a winning message and weather a recalcitrant economy. Axelrod likes to compare the field organization to the field-goal unit on a football team. “You have to get close enough to the goalpost for them to make a difference,” he says. But right now, with Republicans many months from having a nominee of their own, organizing is one thing Obama’s advisers can control. And if they can control it, they intend to master it. Again.