Obama: The Man in the Arena


March 23, 2010
At the Renaissance Weekend held in Santa Monica on February 12-14, 2010, when asked what advice I would give President Obama, I explained that I would not give any advice but rather a word of encouragement.  The word of encouragement I would give is based upon my recent viewing of the movie "Invictus", the story about how Nelson Mandela inspired the victorious South African World Cup Rugby team of 1995.  I noted that in the movie, the poem "Invictus" was highlighted.  However, while the poem "Invictus" was what Mandela had posted on his Robben Island prison cell during his 18 years in prison there, it was not the inspirational note that Mandela actually gave the Rugby team captain to inspire him.  No, what Mandela actually gave were some words from an American president from 100 years ago and it was the words of this American president that served to inspire the South African rugby team captain to lead his team to triumph.  The words come from Theodore Roosevelt from a speech he gave in 1910 in Paris, France, and today, 100 years later, on this day when President Obama has achieved his greatest triumph as President, it seems fitting to remember those words of encouragement: 
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
To President Obama, on this day when health care reform has finally become a reality, I can only say, "Well Done!"

February 1, 2007

Submitted by Everett W. Jenkins

The main water cooler discussion of the day in the San Francisco Bay Area was the indiscretion of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome.  Yesterday Mayor Newsome's campaign manager resigned.  It was alleged that the resignation occurred because Mayor Newsome had an affair with his campaign manager's wife.  According to the story, the affair occurred a year and a half ago.  However, the campaign manager, who also happens to be one of Mayor Newsome's best friends, just learned of the affair because his wife is in a twelve step program to recover from substance abuse and as part of the recovery she needed to come clean about the affair.  The affair apparently occurred while she was working as a secretary in Mayor Newsome's office. 

Today, the Mayor had a news conference and admitted that the story was true.  He admitted to having an affair and with having hurt one of his best friends.  It was great political theater akin, on a Bay Area level, to President Clinton's famous denial of having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. 

However, what I found particularly interesting were the polls which were taken which showed that eighty-nine percent of those questioned felt that Newsome should not resign because of this indiscretion.  Apparently, in comparison with the more aberrant sexual scandals which have plagued politicians in recent years, the Newsome peccadillo seemed to be of little concern as far as the public's assessment of his ability to manage the City. 

Nevertheless, there does seem to be a consensus that Mayor Newsome broke the basic "Man Code" -- the Code of Men which states that a man should never sleep with his best friend's wife or girlfriend.  Newsome broke the Man Code and, for this transgression, he is deemed to have crossed the line of decency. 

It is a strange sign of the times that the "Man Code" appears to be more firm than the "Moral Code" that once seemed to prevail.