I’ve been reading Jonathan Alter’s The Promise – President Obama, Year One, and have come across a number of striking passages that have led me to spend much time ruminating on the monumental challenges President Obama faces in his attempt to pilot the ‘ship of state’ in the tumultuous political seas of the 21st century.
With your indulgence, I’d like to share a number of these passages in an on-going series. In particular, I’ll present snippets that have resonated with me. Some are shocking, some humorous, some awe-inspiring, some infuriating, but I hope you’ll find each of them as illuminating as I have.
One such illumination comes in the middle of page 280, characterizing the woeful state of both the U.S. media establishment and education in America:
The United States had big challenges ahead in staying competetive, and much of the media, [President Obama] thought, was clueless about what was truly important. For instance, he noted that President Lee Myong Bak of South Korea, presiding over a “very competetive” economy, has said that his biggest problem in education was that Korean parents were too demanding and were insisting on importing English teachers so their kids could learn English in first grade instead of having to wait for second grade. This is what complacent America was up against. “And then I sit down with U.S. reporters, and the question they have for me, in Asia, is, ‘Have I read Sarah Palin’s book?'” At this point, the president shook his head, incredulous. “True. True story.”