Hello Everyone,

It has been many moons since I have written one of these. I, like many of you, tire of the incessant negativity directed at our President.

The Republicans have been highly successful at stiffing all progress, getting very little done. At the same time, they have been brilliant in driving down President Obama’s approval ratings. He campaigned on “Yes We Can.” Their response: “No You Can’t.”

Now, on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, the President has announced that he is reluctantly taking us back to war.

As I’ve said from the beginning, I support him because of his “intellect, temperament and worldview.”

As the editors of The New Yorker wrote in 2008 (which I cited in #36 that year):

Yet it is Obama’s temperament—and not McCain’s—that seems appropriate for the office both men seek and for the volatile and dangerous era in which we live. Those who dismiss his centeredness as self-centeredness or his composure as indifference are as wrong as those who mistook Eisenhower’s stolidity for denseness or Lincoln’s humor for lack of seriousness.

I feel blessed that he is our leader at a time when the world faces an enormously complex dilemma in the Middle East. Thank God he possesses these qualities.

As for intellect, just read, or re-read, Tom Friedman’s piece which encapsulates the mindboggling complexity of the crisis (see attachment A):

After 9/11 that sort of “fire, ready, aim” approach led George W. Bush to order a ground war in Iraq without sufficient troops to control the country, without a true grasp of Iraq’s Shiite-Sunni sectarian dynamics, and without any realization that, in destroying the Sunni Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the Sunni Baathist regime in Iraq, we were destroying both of Iran’s mortal enemies and thereby opening the way for a vast expansion of Iran’s regional influence. We were in a hurry, myself included, to change things after 9/11, and when you’re in a hurry you ignore complexities that come back to haunt you later…

To defeat ISIS you have to address the context out of which it emerged. And that is the three civil wars raging in the Arab world today: the civil war within Sunni Islam between radical jihadists and moderate mainstream Sunni Muslims and regimes; the civil war across the region between Sunnis funded by Saudi Arabia and Shiites funded by Iran; and the civil war between Sunni jihadists and all other minorities in the region — Yazidis, Turkmen, Kurds, Christians, Jews and Alawites.

And, with respect to temperament, I suggest you read, or re-read David Brooks (see attachment B):

Moses, famously, tried to get out of it. When God called on him to lead the Israelites, Moses threw up a flurry of reasons he was the wrong man for the job…

The successful reluctant leader…is fervently motivated by his own conscience.

This kind of reluctant leader has some advantages over a full-throated, unreluctant crusader. Unlike George W. Bush in 2003, he’s [Obama’s] not carried away by righteous fervor. The successful reluctant leader can be selfless. He’s not doing the work because it’s the expression of his inner being. He’s just an instrument for the completion of a nasty job.

The reluctant leader can be realistic about goals…

The reluctant leader can be skeptical…

The reluctant leader can be dogged…

The reluctant leader can be collaborative…

If he [Obama] sticks to this self-assigned duty, and pursues it doggedly, he can be a successful reluctant leader.

It’s at times like these that I realize once again why I have long supported Barack Obama, and still do. Intellect, Temperament and Worldview.

Please, as always, pass it on. And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com



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Attachment A – Friedman – Ready, Aim, Fire – NYT – 9-2-14


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Attachment B – Brooks – The Reluctant Leader – NYT – 9-11-14



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