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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Jewish Prayer

A few things to share tonight. A Jewish friend of ours shared on facebook that she had prayed a beautiful prayer at synagogue at a special service Sunday in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. I asked her about it and she sent it to me. What an expression of memory and spirituality:

At the rising of the sun and at its going down We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and the chill of winter We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength
We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

Obama’s “Preaching”

I had heard that the president had given quite a rousing speech in the tradition of the black church at a gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus this weekend. He speaks so differently in that setting and at least one African American leader doesn’t appreciate it:

"I want to believe President Obama is better, I really do. These speeches that trade in the tropes and imagery from African American life, while fussing at all of "us" to get to work, are wearing my patience thin. I realize there is a speechwriter behind them, but damn…If this is his idea of being a prophetic voice, I’ll take his boring professorial voice any day. Stop pandering, Mr. President. You can't play Church if you don't know what it really is about."

Suskind’s Obama

I have not read it yet, but I can already see that Ron Suskind’s new book has served a useful purpose: by refocusing on the president’s response to the initial economic crisis of 2008 he reminds us of how much his presidency was shaped by events that occurred before he was sworn in. By saying that I don’t mean to push away his responsibility for his decisions, but rather to refocus on how crucial the decision to lead on TARP even before he was president was to his political future. His uncanny leadership in August of 2008 was a big reason why the country rallied behind him—he was by all accounts the definitive leader behind closed doors when official Washington met at Bush’s invitation at the White House. McCain and Bush are uniformly described in accounts I have read as being indecisive and dependent on Obama’s and Paulson’s leadership (remember the story of Paulson on his knee beseeching Pelosi to support TARP?) Obama’s decisive leadership on TARP may very well have been the right thing for the economy and his campaign, but it locked him into a type of economic team littered with people who had been part of the decade-long lead up to the crisis. The one person he tried to involve in the early stages of his presidency whom I really admired was Paul Volcker. His assessment of Obama in the book is not encouraging: “Obama is smart, but smart is not enough. Leadership is another thing entirely, about knowing your mind enough to make real decisions, ones that last.”

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