Barack Obama, like LBJ and Bill Clinton, may rise from an outsider's position to the highest echelon of American politics. But while those presidents sought power for respect or public adoration, writes David Brooks, Obama exudes an "untroubled self-confidence" in the mold of FDR and Ronald Reagan. Watching Obama's cool-as-a-cucumber campaign, the New York Times columnist wonders how his equanimity would serve him in the White House.
This year Obama has garnered "nearly unparalleled public worship," but while a Clinton would gorge on it, the candidate has become even more sober. In the Oval Office, he could be a disciplined, subtle leader of a diverse, respectful cabinet—or he could get "lost in his own nuance," more observer than decider. Either way, Brooks says, Obama has proved that "far from a celebrity fad, he is self-contained, self-controlled and maybe even a little dull."