Obama Soft Power, Smart Power

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means. --Albert Einstein

Last Thursday I gave a talk on Obama's likely foreign policy changes. I predicted that the era of GWOT (Global War On Terror) and GSAVE (Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism) is over. An Al Jazeera English report speculated as much:

This is not to say that the world suddenly got safer overnight. It's all in the approach and delivery, like a smooth pitch across the plate.

The world will no longer tolerate the Manichean language of the Bush-Cheney years, the arrogance of power that led the United States to act unilaterally in so many areas and damn the public will in the process.

Yet what will replace it?

Some clues can be found at the new transition Web site change.gov , which promises to restore American leadership in the world. The speculation now is that American exceptionalism may become archaic as the Obama administration calls on us to come together in a spirit of unity and attack problems in a post-partisan, globe-inclusive manner. Strictly leftwing or rightwing agendas won't serve this agenda well. Those of us who view ourselves as moderate independents may be the most satisfied with what comes out of the sausage factory, er, legislative process.

Michelle and Barack Obama checked out the new digs today at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue against a backdrop of deep pessimism. Despite the euphoria and enthusiasm surrounding last week's election results, a new CNN poll reports that just 16 percent of those surveyed say things are going well in the country. That's an all-time low. Eighty-three percent say things are going badly, which is an all-time high.

We're known to the world as an almost naively optimistic nation, so these results go against type. Nevertheless, they reflect the damage that has been done to our national psyche, something that is not easily repaired, certainly not in a week's time. I think we're all overtired feeling a dollar short and a day late. I wonder if our next persuader-in-chief can really pull off all those promises that won him the White House.

Mr. President-elect, get enough sleep, make sure you continue to work out everyday, and keep your family values intact. It's great to see the affection that you and your wife show. I can only imagine how difficult the road ahead is for you and your family.

And finally this: I read that Obama "thinks like a professor and inspires like a preacher." The intellectual president follows the most uncurious president in my lifetime.