We’ve shared an interesting article on our Facebook page today discussing Obama’s early years living in Jakarta, and whether this part of his upbringing might have imparted some uniquely Javanese characteristics, in particular with respect to his leadership style.

Edward L. Fox, a writer and author, argues that this aspect of Obama’s background doesn’t get enough attention. It’s a fascinating theory:

One can see the clear distinction between Obama’s ostensibly aloof style of political negotiation in contrast to the aggressive, backslapping, physically overbearing political style of a president such as Lyndon Johnson.

Traditionally, the Javanese ruler triumphs over his adversary without even appearing to exert himself. His adversary must have been defeated already, as a consequence of the ruler’s total command over natural and human forces. This is a common theme in traditional Javanese drama, where the halus hero effortlessly triumphs over hiskasar (literally, unrefined or uncivilised) enemy.

The article certainly seems to have attracted significant interest, especially in Indonesia.

What do you think?