In "Obama Visits a Nation that Knew Him as Barry," November 8, the New York Times, uncharacteristically given the subject, has a revealing story about an interaction between Barry Obama (as he was then known) and his Indonesian playmates.
One time, recalled the elder son, Slamet Januadi, now 52, Mr. Obama asked a group of boys whether they wanted to grow up to be president, a soldier or a businessman. A president would own nothing while a soldier would possess weapons and a businessmen would have money, the young Obama explained.
Mr. Januadi and his younger brother, both of whom later joined the Indonesian military, said they wanted to become soldiers. Another boy, a future banker, said he would become a businessman.
"Then Barry said he would become president and order the soldier to guard him and the businessman to use his money to build him something," Mr. Januadi said. "We told him, 'You cheated. You didn't give us those details.' "
"But we all became what we said we would," he said.
Obama understood, at an early age, the power of the imperial presidency that his predecessors had built in the previous century or so.