Friday, November 30, 2012

Barack Obama is a Classy Guy

Like him or not, you have to admit that Barack Obama is a classy guy.

You may not like his politics, you may disagree with his philosophy, and you can even question his integrity if you want to. But you cannot deny that this president has class. I give you three undeniable examples.

Example #1: At the end of the inauguration ceremonies in 2009, the new president and his wife escorted the former president and his wife from the dais (where Mr. and Mrs. Bush had been honored guests), all the way through the capitol building, out the front door, down the front staircase, and to the steps of Marine One, the (new) president's own helicopter. Marine One would deliver the Bushes to Andrews AFB for their flight home aboard Air Force One, the (new) president's own airplane. Obama didn't have to do any of that. What is more, the Obamas escorted the Bushes alone, without any personal assistants, TV cameras or other hangers-on. Cameras were kept at a great distance - we wouldn't even know these details if it weren't for huge telephoto lenses on distant TV cameras. The four of them engaged in friendly (and private) conversation all along the way. The Obamas treated the Bushes with courtesy, kindness and the greatest respect. They parted at the steps of Marine One with smiles, sincere embraces and words of farewell. Then the president and his wife turned around, held hands, and walked back into the Capitol.

Example #2: In the midst of a bitter and hard-fought election campaign, the two contenders, Obama and Mitt Romney, took time out to attend and speak at the Albert E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a black-tie affair held on Thursday, October 18, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Laying the campaign aside for a while, both men poked fun at themselves and at each other. The jokes were in good taste and bore not even a hint of mean-spiritedness. At the end of their remarks, each candidate praised the other and made special mention of the other man's family and of his role as husband and father, which (to paraphrase their words) was more important than being president.

Example #3: Obama likes having lunch, or tipping a beer, with different people of varying degrees of fame. These lunches are always great publicity opportunities and are exploited as such by the president's handlers - except for last Wednesday, November 29th. After having won re-election, Obama invited Romney to lunch, and they dined at the White House on Wednesday. It was a VERY private affair. Besides Obama and Romney, the only other people in the room were the waiters - no photographers, no staff, no members of the press. The conversation was cordial, even friendly, and strictly confidential. The only details that we got on the lunch were part of the menu (turkey chili, chicken salad). Romney arrived and left as a friend, or at least as an esteemed colleague.

Class doesn't depend on intellectual or political superiority, or on wealth or heritage. Class is something that comes from inside of you, no matter what your station in life. For example, you know that story about the NYPD beat cop who, on the frigid night of November 14, went into a store and spent $100 on socks and boots for a homeless man, then knelt down on the sidewalk to help him put them on? That cop had class.

President Obama has class, too. Cynics will add their own details to these three stories, or put their own spin on them, but these are just three examples of an indisputable fact: President Obama is a classy guy.

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