He used his gifts to shrewdly foster change and connect leaders to the masses. He is stoic and steadfast, refusing to be diverted from his path toward justice. At age eighty, he still tirelessly works on behalf of youths and minorities to try to right the mistakes that humanity can’t seem to stop perpetuating.
This seems like a decent time to remark how much I love this video of Obama singing the opening lines of "Let's Stay Together." Everyone's seen it but here it is again:*
It's not just a good video because everyone loves Al Green, but also seems to mark a general thawing of the anxiety and disappointment surrounding Obama's presidency. It's not just that the Republican primaries have gone further off the deep end than even the most cynical lefty could have imagined (or hoped), it's that Obama seems to have reclaimed a confidence that was feared lost.
This is the kind of moment that cannot be scripted or acted. As he sings, he looks downward shyly. He loves Al Green - who doesn't? When the crowd applauds he looks at once surprised, appreciative, and embarrassed at the raucousness of their response. There's a difference between Obama's real smile and his "picture taken with a politician smile," and his sincerity is intoxicating. He briefly nods his head to the side in deference — a posture he rarely takes in public — to let the crowd know how much he's enjoying their reaction. Then the moment is over. He throws his shoulders back and reclaims his campaign persona, talking trash to his staff, an underrated staple of his stump speeches. Addressing Al Green in the audience: "Don't worry Rev, I can't sing like you, but I just wanted to show my appreciation."
That's the essence of leadership: "I can't do what you do, but I appreciate how well you do it."
*"Everyone's seen it but here it is again" is more or less my mission statement nowadays.