Lee Child

Is Jack Reacher the perfect guy in the age of Barack Obama? Okay, let’s count the ways.

1. Ex-military. Always a good thing. There’s honor there. But he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. Probably wouldn’t put down a community organizer.

2. Very thrifty. Always a good thing. He’s not exactly a model for the consumer age, but he can sure show us all how to get by on less. We could all take a lesson. Shopping malls and box stores don’t even know he exists.

3. Schooled. At least, he knows everything. What he doesn’t know, he works very hard-extremely hard-at learning. Something doesn’t make sense, he figures it out. As a role model for the workforce, it doesn’t get much better.

4. Morals. By the truckload. You only get hurt if you deserve it. Simple. But also a lover. Always gets the girl.

5. Low housing expectations. Now, there’s something that may come in handy for all of us. If you want to learn how to travel light and lay low and not need much, check Reacher’s rock solid ability to deny himself anything but the basics. (Suitcase manufacturers must have nightmares.)

6. Willing to sacrifice. Heck, he’ll walk all night if he has to get somewhere. No complaints. Work hard? Reacher barely sleeps. He’s relentlessly focused once the task is at hand. Success rate a marvel.

7. Math whiz. I’d like to see Jack Reacher calculate the investment wisdom of the various stimulus packages being dealt out by Washington, D.C. There’s no situation that can’t be analyzed mathematically. (Math teachers everywhere, take note.)

8. Ex-smoker. Sort of like the president-elect. Reacher smoked early on but has given it up. Reacher may be doing better than Barack.

9. Physically fit. Reacher works out every day, or nearly. He’s either working up a sweat taking on the bullies and baddies or he is, um, working up a sweat.

10. Always says the right thing. Doesn’t matter what questions he’s asked. Like the best (and worst) politician, he’s always going to say whatever he wants to anyway.

11. All about hope. In the case of “Nothing to Lose,” it’s Hope, Colorado. In most of his journeys, hope is always nearby.  In the case of Barack it’s well, about Hope. Capital H.

12. Solid ground. They both have one foot on solid ground, one in fantasyland. Reacher is out-sized. He’s too good, too smart, too sharp, too strong, too tough, too calculating, too moral, too loving, too tender, too brutal, too scarred, too inscrutable. Barack? Ditto.

13. Real versus unreal. Try to identify the parts that are real, that are possible. Those parts are neatly intertwined with the guy who sits on a barstool and “does the math” trying to calculate taking on four bruisers. Or six. Or twelve. Or, at one point in “Nowhere to Lose,” a whole town. Try to identify the parts that are possible and they are neatly intertwined with the guy who is as big a moral force as he is physical threat. As with Barack, many strangers and foreigners are trying to measure the man.

14. Blunt verbal style. Punchy, to-the-point. Minimal commas. Of course, Reacher more likely to “say nothing.” (With Barack, that’s probably never the case.)

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