06/29/2012 10:39 am ET Updated Aug 29, 2012

An Emerging Leader

I hosted a luncheon last week for David Maraniss, author of the new book, Barack Obama, The Story at the Luncheon Society in New York City. Maraniss's book traces Obama's childhood, teenage years and his twenties with meticulous detail and exceptional insight. He interviewed hundreds of people who knew Obama at this early stage of his life.

One theme that comes through strongly is that most friends and observers of Obama found him to be a cautious soul, carefully avoiding being trapped, but once he had figured out all the options and all the perils, he was willing to take truly significant risks. As one looks back on his life, one can see that he did so when he left Occidental College for Columbia, used his degree from Harvard Law School for community organizing rather than a well-paid position in a tony Chicago law firm, ran for the Senate after losing a race for Congress, and jumped into the 2008 presidential race after just a few years as Senator. This about sums up, too, how he approached pushing for the Health Care law -- and his decision to go after Osama Bin Laden. He took the great risks but after rational calculation.

For those Democrats or liberals who criticize Obama for moving too slowly in office, for not confronting his Republican foes more directly, for hedging too much on the banks and home foreclosures, you have to give him a chance to act according to his own internal clock. What he has exhibited so far, in my view, are all the attributes of a great leader.