Marc Andreessen met Obama

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Marc Andreessen met Obama in 2007 and came away from the meeting very impressed.

Early in 2007, a friend of mine who is active in both high-tech and politics called me up and said, let's go see this first-term Senator, Barack Obama, who's ramping up to run for President.

And so we did -- my friend, my wife Laura, and me -- and we were able to meet privately with Senator Obama for an hour and a half.

The reason I think you may find this interesting is that our meeting in early 2007 was probably one of the last times Senator Obama was able to spend an hour and a half sitting down and talking with just about anyone -- so I think we got a solid look at what he's like up close, right before he entered the "bubble" within which all major presidential candidates, and presidents, must exist.

Let me get disclaimers out of the way: my only involvement with the Democratic presidential campaigns is as an individual donor -- after meeting with the Senator, my wife and I both contributed the maximum amount of "hard money" we could to the Obama campaign, less than $10,000 total for both the primary and the general election. On the other hand, we also donated to Mitt Romney's Republican primary effort -- conclude from that what you will.

I carried four distinct impressions away from our meeting with Senator Obama.

[Click to read the four distinct points An hour and a half with Barack Obama]

(H/T to mike3k)

I am no Baby Boomer, so the fact that Hillary Clinton is the first credible woman presidential candidate is not that important to me. More important is that Clinton is a party insider, the same Democratic party that has aligned itself with corporate interests against the interest of American citizens time and time again. I don't have a strong opinion re: Clinton's personality one way or another, but her allegiance to the DLC, to the Mark Penn's of the world, to the politics of collusion with big business, these are all reasons to support Obama instead. Is Obama a saint? No, obviously, that's a dumb question, all politicians are corrupt to a certain extent. But in a binary choice, Clinton loses every time.

One other quote:
We asked him directly, how concerned should we be that you haven't had meaningful experience as an executive -- as a manager and leader of people?

He said, watch how I run my campaign -- you'll see my leadership skills in action.

At the time, I wasn't sure what to make of his answer -- political campaigns are often very messy and chaotic, with a lot of turnover and flux; what conclusions could we possibly draw from one of those?

Well, as any political expert will tell you, it turns out that the Obama campaign has been one of the best organized and executed presidential campaigns in memory. Even Obama's opponents concede that his campaign has been disciplined, methodical, and effective across the full spectrum of activities required to win -- and with a minimum of the negative campaigning and attack ads that normally characterize a race like this, and with almost no staff turnover. By almost any measure, the Obama campaign has simply out-executed both the Clinton and McCain campaigns.

This speaks well to the Senator's ability to run a campaign, but speaks even more to his ability to recruit and manage a top-notch group of campaign professionals and volunteers -- another key leadership characteristic. When you compare this to the awe-inspiring discord, infighting, and staff turnover within both the Clinton and McCain campaigns up to this point -- well, let's just say it's a very interesting data point.

We then asked, well, what about foreign policy -- should we be concerned that you just don't have much experience there?

He said, directly, two things.

First, he said, I'm on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve with a number of Senators who are widely regarded as leading experts on foreign policy -- and I can tell you that I know as much about foreign policy at this point as most of them.

Being a fan of blunt answers, I liked that one.
The whole extended riff on experience is crap. More important is the ability to assimilate new facts and events, and respond in an intelligent manner. George Bush the lesser obviously had little foreign experience, but he also is very rigid in his ability to think on his feet, leading to the various messes the US is involved in around the world (and at home). Obama may not have years of experience navigating the lobbyists and special interest groups of Washington, but he does appear to be clever enough to figure out nuance.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on March 3, 2008 12:28 PM.

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