I guess this is the second wave of the Obama for President campaign. The Washington Post, most likely at the behest of the White House (just a guess), prints a puff piece that may cause readers to blush. Highlights:
But in a good way, not in a cold-fish way at all!
During one of his Afghan review meetings last year, President Obama surprised senior advisers by jumping into a discussion between two military officials about a new study of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The flow of information to the president is usually carefully managed, and no one in the room had briefed Obama on the data. "It's not like we'd sent him the study, but he'd clearly seen it," one adviser said. "It was telling."
What it told of was a president who persists in seeking his own information, beyond what is offered to him. His lawyerly and orderly reliance on facts and data often has created an impression that Obama is cool and detached.
"This is someone who in law school worked with [Harvard professor] Larry Tribe on a paper on the legal implications of Einstein's theory of relativity," said senior adviser David M. Axelrod. "He does have an incisive mind; that mind is always put to use in pursuit of tangible things that are going to improve people's lives."He's mastered physics, law, history, mathematics. And though we are unworthy, he has chosen to use his superpowers for us. Because he cares.
When he turns to solving problems through policy, he reveres facts, calling for data and then more data. He looks for historical analogues and reads voraciously.
But he's above caring about his own political fortunes:
"If he was poll-driven, we'd be doing better," one senior adviser said ruefully, adding, "but the country would be in a depression."
The president is affected above all by the calendar, which limits what he can accomplish before the White House must shift into reelection mode. That political reality has lent his first year in office a sense of urgency.
As yet unable to transcend the limits of time.
He uses technology to feed the powerful intellect:
This fingertip access sends him "constantly" online, said one senior adviser, and the information he finds there influences his thinking and some of his deliberations. He also "uses the Internet like a normal adult," said another aide, "reading news articles, checking sports scores."
Just like us! Only better.
"Periodically, I mention to him articles that I have found particularly interesting, and that he might find interesting, and a very high fraction of the time he has already read them and has some kind of reaction," economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers said.
He reads magazines "like crazy":
The Mind demands stimulation, not yes-men:
(Yeah, that Paul Krugman.)
Whereas most journalists are brought in to see the president in order to try to shape a news story, the private meeting between Krugman and Obama was something of a policy debate on the economy and health care, although aides would not disclose details. Obama, said one aide, was grateful to have the "intellectual challenge" of an adversary who would help refine his own thinking."He likes the rigor of having a conversation with someone who's going to push him," Jarrett said. "There's really no point in him wasting time with people who simply agree with him all the time, because it's not going to refine his position. It's not going to enlighten his position." She added: "Also, then Paul gets to hear an opinion different than his own, too."
Speaking of yes-men, they can be such a bore:
Obama also seeks out rival views among his staff to whatever idea is on the table. During one economic session, his advisers were all on the same page; that annoyed Obama, and he sent them out of the room with a request to return with a dissenting view, a participant said. What ensued resembled a debate club meeting.
Very edifying, no doubt. And it staves off the tedium between speeches.
The article goes on and on. Subtlety isn't a strength at the White House or at the Post.
Credit where it's due: Anne E. Kornblut, Michael A. Fletcher, and Scott Wilson put that together.Most recent posts here.