The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, upon first meeting Barack Obama made a now notorious remark to
an aide, ‘is he weak?’ The American people seem to be asking the same question.
in many varieties. Obama’s predecessor took pride in his physical strength and his decisiveness. As Harry Truman might
have said, there’s no distinction to be made between a man and his posture: I am my backbone.
people can be strong in different ways. They can find themselves strong in the wrong way, that is to say, mismatched. The
president values and promotes strength of character; the people appear to want strength of temperament.
two may coincide at critical moments, of course. A strong ruler can smell them. A wise leader may not be
this lucky, and so must compensate in other ways.