American Mandela

In a thought-provoking article, published in, Sam Fulwood III offers a comparative look at Barack Obama and Nelson Mandella, the change agent who led South Africa into the post-Apartheid era.  Many writers are making comparisons of Obama and FDR, or Lincoln.  Fulwood comments, "At times, even Obama encourages the idea that he's channeling both of those beloved presidents. He often compares himself to Lincoln, invoking the Great Emancipator in speeches and in his very open effort to choose a cabinet with echoes of Lincoln's "team of rivals."

This article suggests that a more apt comparison may be Nelson Mandela.  We all recall the enomous welcome Obama received when he visited Europe during the Presidential campaign.  Fulwood observes, "Similar to Mandela's 1994 election as the first black president of South Africa, Obama's victory as the first black U.S. president is a globally recognized historical moment. But the similarities between the two men extend beyond skin color or prideful racial milestones. . . Mandela was an international figure, admired abroad even more than at home, which made him and his "change" policies all more palatable for domestic consumption."

Since winning his election, the president-elect has been as solid and sure-footed as he was during the campaign. He's sought out the best minds and surrounded himself with talented, if not universally popular, advisers. He's slowly and deliberately set in motion a plan to turn campaign talk into real policies of his administration.

Barack Obama arrives on the American political and historical stage during a time of crisis.  The comparisons to Lincoln and Roosevelt are anchored in the enormous challenges facing these great leaders.  No less, and perhaps an even greater crisis awaits Obama -- a global economic meltdown that will surely lead to a new world economic order.  Fulwood concludes with this observation:

"The qualities that will make Obama a good, if not great, president demand that he resists limiting himself and the nation to an American-only standard. Exemplars of historic leadership can—and often do—come from beyond our borders. Mandela's intelligence, oratorical skills and global embrace allowed South Africa to remain intact and prosper at a critical juncture in his nation's history.

Obama would be wise to follow his example."

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