Sheesh. 2009 is ending and it seems like only yesterday we were worried about Y2K. Today I breezed through all of my posts for the year, with the goal of finding the most important technical story of 2009. Sadly, it was not cold fusion, nor a catalyst that decomposes carbon dioxide. There were some interesting medical discoveries, but only time will reveal their historical importance.
Lacking a big story, I decided to write about two books that influenced me the most during 2009. The first was Taylor Branch's The Clinton Tapes which provides a perspective of presidential character and decisions (what was he thinking?) that has never been available before. Taylor Branch maintained written notes and also dictated into a recorder while driving home from the White House.
The result is a historical explanation of Bill Clinton's decisions about Supreme Court justices, staff assignments, domestic and foreign policy, even personal decisions. It is fascinating to understand leadership decisions that affected hundreds of millions of people. The book explains the deals and promises that makes government possible.
Later in the year, I had the opportunity to hear David Gerken speak, who was brought into the Clinton White House to repair political damage sustained by the administration by having too many inexperienced, but passionate people. His remarks corroborated what I had learned from Branch's book. It is an enlightening tale about a brilliant, but very human leader.
A very different second book was The Shack, by William P. Young. It liberated me from what I thought Christianity should be. I was too focused on theology and not enough on God's final creation - people. Although I could never have articulated it, my image of God was closer to Sinners in the Hands of Angry God than The Shack. Young's story and symbolism will continue to impact on my life.
In closing thoughts for the year, I was intrigued by Popularity that popped like a balloon. Anne Davies is a Washington columnist for Australian newspapers. I believe she accurately captures the angst of America as we end 2009. It is an interesting perspective of events and people that shaped the U.S. during the year. In particular, she charts the decline of President Obama's popularity. The President self-graded a B+ for the year, but I believe he earned an A. He provided charismatic leadership when the nation (and world) needed it most. (I am a student of leadership.)
In yesterday's post, I touched on the growing loss of competition for consumers as larger companies swallow up the smaller competitors. The absence of competition means these larger companies don't have to advertise, and more importantly, are not required to innovate. Innovation and doing things better has always been America's character, and what fueled the development of the nation. I am concerned the present course toward less competition will change America's character.
Be safe tonight in your celebrations. I wish you a very Happy New Year!