Barack Obama turns 49 Wednesday. That makes him a Leo, for those who give much thought to astrology. I'm a Leo too, though I think astrology is nonsense, except when I read something like this: "Leo man could embody everything that a man aspires to be — courage, controlled aggression, wit, humor, instant sex appeal and charm!"
The uncanny accuracy of that description shakes my skepticism about astrology. Though it may lack the authority of science, there surely must be something to reading the stars if the practice can produce such a definitively perceptive portrait of those of us who share this birth sign. Even my mom, who knew me better than anyone, couldn't have drafted a more insightful sketch of my inherent attributes.
And the nation is fortunate to have a guy who seems to be a lot like me handling our nation's affairs. We Leos have our faults, of course, most of which are related to the difficulties we face in trying to remain humble. Some astrologers even see us as vain and somewhat prideful, which is an understandable flaw in people as favored as we've been.
But even as terrific as Leos tend to be, there are those who share my sign who fail to make the best of the gifts bestowed on them by the timing of their births. The first Leo to become POTUS was Benjamin Harrison, and he wasn't a great advertisement for the sign. In fact, his presidency was so undistinguished that the nation wasn't ready to risk another Leo for 40 years, when we elected Herbert Hoover. And we all know how well that worked out. Thanks to Hoover, we refrained from electing another Leo until Bill Clinton took office in 1993. Clinton was able to capitalize big time on those distinctive Leo qualities — charm, sex appeal, wit — and now, less than a decade later, another Leo is in charge.
Leos like Bill, Barack and I are known to astrology as men who "are born to lead and guide others." We're the kind of guys who "can guide, direct, communicate and teach other people in an aristocratic manner."
Once again, the uncanny accuracy of the portrait shakes the skepticism of those who doubt the validity of astrology. Even on the downside, the astrologers seem to get it right. That same astrological profile that singled out the better angels of our natures also took note of the possibility that Leo men "may falter and commit some glaring mistakes in the haste of getting their work done in double quick time." Doesn't that sound a little like the way our current Leo-in-chief handled the Shirley Sherrod episode? I wouldn't have faltered in that way, of course, but then I'm a July Leo, and we're generally known to be more judicious than August Leos. Sexier, too, as a rule. The quality of your average Leo tends to decline as the calendar moves toward Virgo, a group of people generally seen by astrologers as fussy and narrow-minded. Ivan the Terrible was a Virgo, and so is Amy Winehouse, so what does that tell you?
For what it's worth, there's nary a Leo to be found among those four presidents whose faces are carved into the rock of Mt. Rushmore. George Washington was a Pisces, Thomas Jefferson an Aries, Theodore Roosevelt a Scorpio and Abraham Lincoln an Aquarius. Franklin D. Roosevelt, ranked by many historians as the greatest president of the 20th century, was also an Aquarius.
It's probably time we had a Leo up on Mt. Rushmore. Although we can't count President Obama among those very best Leos, who tend to be born in July, he may yet prove himself the equal of those lesser signs who've preceded him in achieving greatness. However that works out, it should be reassuring to know we have a Leo in charge during these challenging times.
So, happy birthday, Mr. President, from one charming, sexy and modest Leo to another.
Jaime O'Neill is a writer in Northern California.