In the waning days of his extraordinary year and on the cusp of his presidency, what now seems most salient about Obama is the opposite of flashy, the antithesis of rhetoric: he gets things done. He is a man about his business — a Mr. Fix It going to Washington. That's why he's here and why he doesn't care about the furniture. We've heard fine speechmakers before and read compelling personal narratives. We've observed candidates who somehow latch on to just the right issue at just the right moment. Obama was all these when he started his campaign: a talented speaker who had opposed the Iraq war and lived a biography that was all things to all people. But while events undermined those pillars of his candidacy, making Iraq seem less urgent and biography less relevant, Obama has kept on rising. He possesses a rare ability to read the imperatives and possibilities of each new moment and organize himself and others to anticipate change and translate it into opportunity.On another note, here's Obama in 2008.
In 2012, it'll be interesting to go back to this photograph or to any of his recent ones to see how much grayer he's gotten. If recent history is any indication (Bill Clinton, G.W.), Obama will be silver-haired by then.
Picture credit: Callie Shell/Aurora for Time.
Edited to add a link to the Time article (Dec 18, 08).