Sakset/Fra hofta

Amerikansk politikk er annerledes, om ikke annet ved den store makten som er lagt i én persons hender. -Karakter er skjebne, skriver Albert R. Hunt, Washington-redaktør for Bloomberg News. -Det har ikke vært en stor amerikansk president som ikke har hatt karakter, skriver Hunt. Han mener Obama har karakter.

Mer karakter enn George W. Bush og Bill Clinton.

Barack Obama, more than most presidential candidates, has a life rich with transforming experiences. Few are as important as writing his first book, «Dreams From My Father.»

The book, written before he was a politician, is a raw, searching and candid portrait of the contradictions and conflicts of his unusual first 30 years.

«It was a struggle to look honestly into his period of rebelliousness, growing up biracial, and the hurt of being abandoned by his father,» recalls his close friend, Valerie Jarrett. «It was at times a painful exercise, but it was a catharsis. By the end, he was whole.»

The self-discoveries emanating from the book offer reassurance that Obama is a secure, self-confident man.

This is in contrast to the U.S.’s two most recent presidents: George W. Bush, who gives off an air of cocky self- confidence, wasn’t sufficiently secure to consult skeptics, including his own father, when he made a fatal decision to go to war; Bill Clinton’s unrivaled intelligence and political acumen weren’t sufficient to deter his bouts of personal recklessness.

Smart og disiplinert

Obama er minst like smart som Clinton, sier en av Clintons tidligere medarbeidere. Samtidig har han noe Clinton ikke har: en sterk selvdisiplin.

Intellectually, Obama is truly gifted. «He’s at least as smart as Bill Clinton,» says Abner J. Mikva, who was White House counsel during the Clinton administration and has known Obama for two decades.

Mikva, while a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, offered Obama a clerkship, a sure path to a similar and highly coveted post at the Supreme Court. Obama turned him down. The Harvard Law School graduate told the judge he wanted to enter politics in Chicago. Mikva, a former congressman from Chicago, marveled at his «naïveté.»

There is one powerful trait in Obama, Mikva says, that Clinton lacked: «tremendous self-discipline.» Campaigns are usually reflections of the candidates, and rarely has America seen one as disciplined as this historic adventure.

Obama har tilpasse seg omgivelsene, og vet å inngå kompromisser. Han kan også være opportunistisk.

Hans største svakhet er for stor tro på sin egen dømmekraft, en for stor selvtillit som vipper over i selvrettferdighet og arroganse. Særlig er dette farlig på utenrikspolitikkens område.

The biggest worry about an Obama presidency is the flip side of his self-confidence, his occasional lapses into hubris. This is most worrisome on foreign policy, not because of his inexperience, but because he seems so supremely self-confident about his instincts.

Foreign-Policy Weakness

The Obama campaign reflects unsteadiness on overseas issues at critical moments. When Russia invaded Georgia a few weeks ago, his initial comments were vapid; throughout the day he had to toughen his posture.

Men han har en viktig egenskap som kan balansere denne svakheten: en evne til å tåle sterke personligheter rundt seg med ulike synspunkter.

Yet Obama’s entire history and the discoveries he made in writing his first book suggest he will be comfortable around strong people with diverse views. His biracial background and eclectic experiences all attest to that.

More than any leader, perhaps since Franklin Roosevelt, he appears more likely to emulate Abraham Lincoln’s «team of rivals,» the phrase coined by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to describe the 16th president’s ability to surround himself with forceful, independent-minded advisers.

Hunt forteller en morsom anekdote om Obama. Hans medarbeidere satt sammen og diskusjonen dreide seg om hva de skulle kalle ham hvis han ble president. Obama kom inn og fikk høre hva de snakket om.

-Dere skal kalle meg Mr. President, sa han.

Obama’s Edge Lies in Character, Self-Discipline:

there is something about this guy