joan’s journal

by (our very own!) Joan Katherine Shaw

Luck is half the game. It’s no good having it and being incapable of using it. On the other hand, great striving may come to naught without luck. My sense is that President Barack Obama is a lucky man. – Roger Cohen

Mr. Cohen, Obama is not just lucky, he is an example of the Great Man theory

Why is it luck that President Obama surrounds himself with advisors he carefully chose – a hydra headed advance guard with the expertise and intelligence and, best of all, contacts throughout the world, to see what’s coming in a year, two years, more?

Like FDR did in the 1930s, Obama acts as a sponge, soaking up the information culled from this advance guard. He orders and categorizes it, and then, after one helluva lot of cogitation, he acts on it.

Leaders of countries have always been faced with explosive situations, both at home and abroad, and they have not always been “lucky,” because they’ve not always acted intelligently while meeting them. Think of Vietnam, for instance – who in the world thought up the “domino theory” anyway? Eisenhower did, followed by Nixon who galloped off with it, complete with drafted soldiers.

Result? The domino theory resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of Vietnamese and American troops, not to mention the Vietnamese civilians caught up in it. Finally, the term was quietly put away and forgotten.

Then there’s the Cold War, a term coined by Bernard Baruch, a long-time advisor to presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Harry Truman. The term was picked up by the press through columnist Walter Lippmann and that’s all we heard for decades, killing millions in proxy wars backed by the US versus the USSR, stretching from the Korean War to wars in Southeast Asia and beyond.

We’ve all read, I’m sure, that Reagan “broke up the Soviet Union,” though what actually broke up the Soviet Union was exhaustion bred from too many wars, too many states pulled into their orbit. But it was as early as the late seventies that historians and analysts foretold the Soviet Union’s break up.

In fact, if any one person “broke up the Soviet Union” it was Mikhail Gorbachev who tried to stop his county’s economic freefall with his Perestroika and Glasnost. The reward he received was a Soviet jail and exile, in that order but, by 1991, the USSR was no more and all the dead were still dead, and for nothing.

Okay, say President Obama is “lucky” to be facing so many disasters all at once, including the revolutionary fervor spreading through the Middle East. Suppose he followed the advice of most of the far Left and all of the Right and went into the Middle East with guns blazing? Certainly there were more of the Hawks urging war than there were of his advisors. And even among his close advisors there might well have been some who counseled intervention.

But while he was still a US senator Obama said that he wasn’t against all wars. He was against dumb wars. And intervention in Tunisia and Egypt would have been dumb and Barack Obama is not dumb.

In fact I have always thought that Barack Obama is a real life example of the Great Man theory – that in times of need, a Great Man would arise and, further, that his actions would be impossible without the social conditions built before his lifetime.

The theory fits President Obama.  It took more than a confluence of good genes to give our president the brilliant brain and good sense and empathy he has. I agree with the posters here that Obama is blessed, except to add that we are infinitely more blessed to have him.

Visit Joan’s blog here

16 Responses to “joan’s journal”

  1. 1 tally
    March 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Yet another brilliant post Chips! Thanks!! You keep me sane.


    • March 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      Helloooooooo Tally! All credit goes to the author, our good friend and ‘commenter’ here, Joan.

      Going to read it again, there’s so much goodness in there. Back soon.

  2. 3 sherijr
    March 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Well done Joan~ The Great Man Theory, Indeed.

  3. 4 Shirley
    March 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I’ll drink to that too, Lots of good stuff there for me to ponder and spend some time. Great work Joan 🙂

    Thank you so much Chips for sharing Joan’s blog, and really, I genuinely thank you for all of your unselfish news, and tid-bits. I truly appreciate all the work and time that you spend In sharing 🙂 You’re a Hospitable Hostess, and I feel so comfortable In visiting here, or should I say, hanging out here.

  4. 5 Anonymous
    March 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Haven’t paid attention to the term before, Joan, but I like your ‘Great Man Theory’. As so many people seem to have noticed, in this president we do indeed have a great man for our times. It’s not difficult to see why this guy chose the ‘luck’ idea, however, because it’s hard to name another president who has batted the ball out of the water or out of the mud as consistently as President Obama has done. Instead of crediting his insight, preparedness and intelligence it’s simpler to ascribe his success to luck/a fluke/an outside force. However, as a poster at BWD’s remarked earlier,

    ‘I don’t hear critics saying “Obama was unlucky” when they percieve him to have made a wrong move.'[Saint Roscoe]

    When he messes up, or they THINK he has messed up, then it’s his ‘inexperience’, ‘arrogance’, ‘cowardice’ or whatever, all entities presumably under his control. IMO, more and more people are fortunately coming to the realization that the President’s leadership has nothing to do with ‘luck’ and everything to do with his vision for the country and the workd, and his determination to lead with this goal in mind.
    Hi, Chipsticks. Hope you had a good Tuesday at work, and thanks for bringing Joan’s journal to our attention!

  5. 6 V C prezOfan2
    March 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Seems I’m ‘Anonymous’ now? Oh dear, and I rather liked being myself (V. C.). 😦

  6. 8 M
    March 1, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Wow! Thank you chips and Joan!
    Joan that last line could not be any more perfect…”except that we are infinitely more blessed to have him.” This blog post needs to be spread around!

  7. 9 CTGirl
    March 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Excellent read, Joan!

  8. 10 Sue in Minnesota
    March 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Outstanding and insightful analysis Joan.

    I believe profoundly in the saying Fortune(luck) favors the prepared.

    I believe what the naysayers want to strip from President Obama is his self-mastery. President Obama is exceptionally well prepared and adept at managing the course of reality. I do believe we are in the capable hands of a man who’s self mastery, his magnanimity, and his leadership will indeed earn him a revered place in the annals of history. I already believe him to be a Great Man.

  9. 11 Sonjia Duncan
    March 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Sue in Minnesota, luck is being prepared when opportunity presents itself. I feel for those, who spend their time, money and energy trying to tear down this great man. All my life I have heard my Elders ask “Is This The One” and I never understood what they were waiting for. When I heard Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention for Kerry, I cried. When I read his book I took out my charge card and for the first time in my life donated to his campaign. I know what my Elders were waiting for Barack Obama.

  10. March 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Joan, that’s just a really fascinating piece, so informative and insightful, and I loved how you set the historical context.

    What struck me through the Tunisia/Egypt/Libya uprisings was/is how the right (media and politicians) decided that this was proof positive that the President was unsuited for the job – when, in fact, it simply proved that they are the fools who are way, way out of their depth. Because he didn’t rush in with all guns blazing, beating his chest and blabbering on about axes of evil, or some similar inanity, he was failing America – as the song goes, when will they ever learn? They don’t even need long memories, Iraq and Afghanistan are perfect examples of the catastrophes you create when you don’t take a deep breath, seek sound advice and think about the consequences of your actions.

    So, this President took a deep breath, sought sound advice and thought about the consequences of his actions. Verdict? Wimp. Good grief.

    This kind of mindless nonsense always reminds me of that old chestnut: the President is too “professorial”. As my dear old mother asked me once, “is it not good to be professorial”? Of course, she took it as a compliment, she assumed it meant ‘educated’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘reflective’, etc. For the right, needless to say, those qualities are weaknesses.

    And the whole business has truly exposed the lie that is the right’s ‘desire’ to ‘spread democracy’ around the globe. Only when it’s their kind of ‘democracy’. Some day they might realize the planet is not their political toy, that when other countries rise up and demand the right to choose their own leaders they have absolutely NO moral right to interfere. Of course you have to try to protect America’s interests, as this President is doing, but when you try to impose your ugly ideology on unreceptive ‘natives’, that’s when you get one of those endless catastrophes.

    Whether there was Teabagger or a Trotskyite in the Oval Office at this moment, there could be no guarantee that the current unrest will end well – in terms of American interests. So, what do you do? Bomb the **** out of Tunisia/Egypt/Libya and declare ‘Mission Accomplished!’ (while dragging America in to yet more ceaseless wars, massively costly in terms of lives and money?) Or do you carry on taking deep breaths, seeking sound advice and thinking about the consequences of your actions, while working off-camera (sorry media!) to ensure the end result is the best it can be?

    I couldn’t agree with you more Joan, the world is utterly blessed to have this man as US President at this turbulent time. It is hugely comforting that the Professor is in charge!

    Thank you so much for allowing me post your wonderful thoughts here!

  11. 14 avpmom
    March 2, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Way to go Joan ~

  12. 15 Sue in Minnesota
    March 2, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I am going to be shallow here, but that is one seriously gorgeous man (and a seriously fine photo).

  13. 16 Andogriff
    March 2, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Thank you chips, for posting Joan’s beautiful words here for us all to see! WTG Joan, you nailed it.

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