Good Men In Action: Barack Obama Meets Matt Saniie

If this video doesn’t put a smile on your face, you are probably dead.

Speaking just for myself, I’m not one to be driven all schmoopy by the sort of hegemonic heteronormative monogamy that’s embodied by a guy giving a diamond ring to his girlfriend as a declaration of intentions. However, I will make an exception in this case because oh my god this is too adorable for words.

What I like about it, though, is the two examples of genuine good manhood being exhibited here. I love Matt’s sensitivity and vulnerability when it comes to his fiancee, how willing he is to share his feelings even as he’s enacting the traditional male role in a very old-fashioned way. He just seems like a really decent guy, based on the five minutes we’re seeing here.

And hot damn, but I am impressed with President Obama. The way he engages with the people he talks to, expresses interest in them, displays active listening… Obama is doing one of the most important things a man can do for other people: he is making them feel valued. Matt and Sarah are standing with the President of the United States, and they feel like the most important people in the room.

As men, we are told over and over that power comes from making ourselves important, from puffing ourselves up, talking loudly, being pushy and assertive. And sure, in a very shallow, temporary way that’s true. But real power, the power to change people’s minds and win their respect, comes from the all-too-rare ability to make other people feel valuable, feel important, feel listened to and respected and liked. That is the great skill the president is displaying here, and I for one want to try to learn from it.

About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. I agree, great communication skills of active listening and empathy.

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