The Sorcerer’s Apprentices, a clarification

Dafydd ab Hugh responds to my “Sorcerer’s Apprentices” post with several valuable observations. In doing so, he takes issue with my claim that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are “entirely self-made men.” Dafydd points out that both “hooked up, early in his career, with a mentor, guru, kingmaker who propelled him to the upper echelon of political society before he was seasoned.” In Clinton’s case, Dafydd is referring to Senator William Fulbright; in Obama’s case, Jeremiah Wright.

In calling Clinton and Obama “entirely self-made” I didn’t mean to imply that they did not get help (though I can see that by using the word “entirely” I might well have conveyed that notion). My point is that they had to secure whatever help they received from others through their own intellect, guile and charm. The connections were not there waiting for them; rather they had to manufacture them.

This is particularly striking in Obama’s case. He targeted a city in which he had no connections, targeted those in that city who could assist him, and then won them over. To me this is the essence of self-making in the political context.

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