An interesting reflection on President Obama’s leadership during his first term from a friend’s husband and the Christian Science Monitor…read it here: Obama and leadership
Jun 09 2011
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Jan 20 2009
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Nov 21 2008
Appears originally at A Prairie Home Companion
The Old Scout
A Few Words for the Happy Couple
November 4, 2008
A golden November day under a blue sky and an air of sweet amiability at the polls and at the end of the day, we elected the right guy, no doubt about it. Yes, we can and we did. A nation spread its wings and achieved altitude.
Bravo, Barack, Mr. Steady, who cheerfully did the rope lines, made the phone calls, answered the same questions fifteen thousand times, bounded up the stairs, delivered his lines with warmth and wit, ran a tight disciplined army, and that, plus $700 million and an 80 mph wind at your back, is all you need to win the prize.
One is electrified by the historic moment, of course, but I will let Great Minds chew on that, and simply wish him and his marvelous lady all the best as they bear up under the tsunami of adoration from Democrats whom he has led out of Egypt. His picture goes up in the kitchen shrine alongside FDR and JFK — BHO elevated to sainthood and now expected to walk on water and turn it into wine. Meanwhile, everything he said about the national mess is utterly true and a lot more. And now it is Barack’s mess. Yikes.
A good shingle for the new administration to hang out, rather than The New Covenant or A Fair Exchange or English Spoken Here, would
be Keep Seat Belt Buckled. Happy days are not here and the sky above is not clear. One bright light in the marquee is Michelle Obama, that witty, jumpy woman with the quicksilver smile who said, “How does Barack prepare for a debate? He just talks to me and he’s ready.” The good mother who said, “People ask me how I am, and I say, I’m only as good as my most sad child.” Come January, we will have a president whose wife calls him Baby. Good for you, Mama. And now she becomes America’s No. 2 celebrity, the object of giddy curiosity.
Enjoy the people’s house, Michelle, and cruise along gently and do not read anything written about you, and don’t watch the news. Enjoy the pageantry (you look good, Baby), bring up the family, and don’t take the show too seriously. Don’t do too many interviews. Think Laura Bush, a cool First Lady. People like Laura Bush a lot, a Texas Democrat who married a Republican and stuck with him through thin and thinner. She’s smart and we know that because she never tried to show how smart she is. Do not let the mister put you in charge of health care legislation. Your great challenge is to make a genuine life in the midst of the heavy surf of publicity. God willing, be happy and live your life. When life gets too unreal, sit down with a good book.
As for President-elect Obama, he can now stop dancing, which he’s been doing for twenty months — in a democracy we want candidates to really, really, really want to be president — and get down to the business of patient, focused, rational deliberation and calculation, starting with the formulation of a Cabinet and a White House staff. Have them write up a presidential order for January 20 saying that America will not employ torture, and maybe issue a blanket presidential pardon for your predecessor and his vice, and then set about the business of disappointing your followers and astonishing your enemies and doing what is right for our country.
Be good to yourself. Hire smart, stable people who can tell you things you need to know and not copy Bob Woodward. Keep some Republicans around. You’re the man. You make us proud. You let us get to know you. You have the gift of speaking clearly and forcefully, whole sentences and paragraphs, while thinking at the same time, a good gift. You don’t need a staff of writers to create a persona for you. You need engineers. Problem solvers. You’re inheriting a raft of them.
Get on that treadmill every morning. Keep a daily journal. Let us see those darling girls once in awhile. Please don’t play golf. Don’t get a dog. Enjoy Camp David. Be happy. Don’t hire people to tell you how to dress or who to be; you’re a grown-up. Don’t do crap that someday you’d have to go on TV and make cheesy apologies for. This job is one you were cut out to do and a big part of the job is to keep up the national morale and you are already doing that big-time. And thank you, sir. All those cheap motels, all those flights, all of that chip dip. We are deeply grateful.
© 2008 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, INC.
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Nov 07 2008
reposted from Farm Aid:
Dear President-elect Barack Obama,
As President of Farm Aid, I’d like to take this opportunity to whole-heartedly congratulate you on your historic victory. I’d also like to offer you every resource that Farm Aid has available to assist you in creating a new farm and food policy that supports a sustainable family farm system of agriculture.
I started Farm Aid in 1985 when family farmers were being forced off their land as a result of federal policy that paved the way for industrial agriculture. This shift replaced independent family farmers with factory farms that have wreaked havoc on our communities, our environment and our public health.
There is broad agreement that our farm and food system needs to be drastically reworked. The good news is that the work of building an alternative to the industrial food system is well underway and Farm Aid is proud to have been a leader in this work, something we call the Good Food Movement. The Good Food Movement has grown and thrived almost entirely without the support of the federal government. However, now is the right moment for the leadership of our country to take a role in this important movement. In fact the future of our economy, our environment and our health demand it.
Our family farmers are a national resource with incredible potential to be the protagonists in solving the challenges we currently face. Family farmers are on the cutting edge of thriving local food systems and economies, alternative energy production and environmental stewardship. Family farmers are marketing the fruits of their labor close-to-home at farm stands, farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), helping local money to circulate in local communities where it can do the most good. Family farmers are growing green energy and harnessing the power of the sun and wind. They are transitioning to sustainable production methods to grow food that is good for our health and our planet. These steps are strengthening our local economies, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, protecting our natural resources and increasing our national security.
As the national organization working on behalf of family farmers for the last 23 years, Farm Aid has helped family farmers stay on the land, organized communities to fight factory farms in their own backyards, and educated eaters about the choices they can make to guarantee healthy, fresh food from family farms. Over our history, we have grown, partnered with, and sustained a network of more than four hundred grassroots farm and food organizations across the nation. As you begin to implement programs to support a family farm system of agriculture, Farm Aid and our vast resource network is here to work with you.
Now is the time for our country to recognize and call on family farmers’ ingenuity, strength and value to our past and our future. We can have strong local economies, green energy, a clean environment, healthy citizens and good food–all of these start with family farmers. I look forward to working with you to make this vision of a family farm system of agriculture a reality.
Stay Strong and Positive,
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Nov 07 2008
Reposted from the owls & the angels:
Nov. 5, 2008
Dear Brother Obama,
You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.
I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.
I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.
A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
In Peace and Joy,
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Nov 05 2008
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Oct 12 2008
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