Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Obama's Can-Do Campaign

Two moves this week offer clues to what an Obama White House would be like--the precipitous dumping of his VP vetter Jim Johnson and the unveiling of a rapid-response anti-smear web site.

With all the hoo-ha about charisma and star quality, what's been largely overlooked is the sheer competence of Barack Obama's campaign to win the nomination and what it portends for his presidency.

The Johnson embarrassment is, by its rarity, a reminder of how much skill it took for a relatively unknown, unfunded first-term senator to prevail against the Clintons with all their power in the Democratic Party.

As an executive, Obama seems to be the exact opposite of George W. Bush, surrounding himself with bright people and not only listening to them but demanding their arguments against his strategies and tactics.

A Newsweek piece on his management style quoted a staff member: "When he's at a meeting, he's very inclusive and a very good listener. He's not looking to dictate what everyone is discussing, and he wants to hear what everyone is thinking. He doesn't discount things."

He rejects knee-jerk thinking, the staffer says. "Obama's response is, 'Well, we've always done it that way--why?'"

Being open and intellectually inquisitive is no guarantee against making mistakes, such as being too slow to distance himself from Jeremiah Wright. But coupled with being decisive and smart, Obama's modus operandi would certainly be a welcome change from seven lean years of Oval Office competence.

In the next five months, voters will get a preview of how well he holds up under pressure and pummeling.

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