An hour with Barack Obama

As an Obama supporter this is just about the best thing I have read. For people who are not sure what to make of him this blog post by the guy who founded Netscape, Marc Andreessen (who also happens to appear quite moderate) lets us in on the fact that Obama is a normal guy, who also happens to be very smart and also understands technology.
Here are some excerpts for the laziest of my readers:

Senator Obama’s political opponents tend to try to paint him as some kind of lightweight, which he most definitely is not. Two, I think he’s at or near the top of the scale of intelligence of anyone in political life today.
You can see how smart he is in his background — for example, lecturer in constitutional law at University of Chicago; before that, president of the Harvard Law Review.
But it’s also apparent when you interact with him that you’re dealing with one of the intellectually smartest national politicians in recent times, at least since Bill Clinton. He’s crisp, lucid, analytical, and clearly assimilates and synthesizes a very large amount of information — smart.

Then when asked if voters should be concerned that Obama hasn’t had a lot of experience as a manager or leader, he said this:

Watch how I run my campaign — you’ll see my leadership skills in action.
At the time, I wasn’t sure what to make of his answer — political campaigns are often very messy and chaotic, with a lot of turnover and flux; what conclusions could we possibly draw from one of those?
Well, as any political expert will tell you, it turns out that the Obama campaign has been one of the best organized and executed presidential campaigns in memory. Even Obama’s opponents concede that his campaign has been disciplined, methodical, and effective across the full spectrum of activities required to win — and with a minimum of the negative campaigning and attack ads that normally characterize a race like this, and with almost no staff turnover. By almost any measure, the Obama campaign has simply out-executed both the Clinton and McCain campaigns.

Finally, when asked about his foreign policy experience – on whether voters should be concerned he said this (paraphrasings of poster):

First, I’m on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve with a number of Senators who are widely regarded as leading experts on foreign policy — and I can tell you that I know as much about foreign policy at this point as most of them.
Think about who I am — my father was Kenyan; I have close relatives in a small rural village in Kenya to this day; and I spent several years of my childhood living in Jakarta, Indonesia. Think about what it’s going to mean in many parts of the world — parts of the world that we really care about — when I show up as the President of the United States. I’ll be fundamentally changing the world’s perception of what the United States is all about.

One of the biggest legacies Bush Jr. leaves behind is one of distrust and dislike of Americans by other countries. Even in places where we have traditionally been viewed well, our image is tarnished. Pre-emptive wars, ignoring diplomacy, and overbearing trading rules will do that. I hadn’t thought mush of it before but, Obama has a better chance than anyone to mend those relationships simply by being who he is. That is a powerful idea for me.

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