He came from the left and poverty, but da Silva rules from the center, as Obama must.
Like Barack Obama, Brazil's president rose to power from poverty and the political left. But during six years in office, he has ruled from the center, tapping Brazil's market strengths, earning him world respect. When the two men finally meet, it may be President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – or "Lula" – who teaches Mr. Obama a thing or two.
A series on Brazil running this week in The Christian Science Monitor shows this "sleeping giant" nation has become a bright-eyed go-getter, due in large part to Mr. da Silva's embrace of practical solutions that please global investors and also most Brazilians (his popularity ratings are very high).
In many areas, such as agriculture, social policy, and diplomacy, Brazil now serves as model to other countries, especially in Africa. Poor Brazilian families, for instance, are given welfare cash, but only if they keep their children in school – an innovative policy that unites politicians of the left and right.
Just last week, in a sign of Brazil's new clout, Mr. da Silva hosted a gathering of the world's largest economies and chastised the United States for its responsibility in the global financial crisis – which is hitting Brazil, too. But more than criticize, the former union leader and founder of the Workers Party also warned countries not to resort to trade protectionism in their reaction to the slowdown. (Obama wants to rewrite NAFTA.)