There's something puzzling about the way that Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has captured the imaginations of Egyptians chafing under President Hosni Mubarak's long rule. ElBaradei is not charismatic in the conventional sense. He tends to slump in his chair. His sentences are littered with "um"s and "you know"s. His bespectacled mien, shiny pate, and mustachioed lip evoke a kindly professor more than a crusader. The uncharitable might even say it is a measure of how desperate Egyptians are for change that they'd rally behind a former U.N. bureaucrat. But his milquetoast exterior masks a backbone of steel, and his tussles with the Bush administration over the extent of Iran's nuclear program have endowed him with a heroic reputation in the Middle East—which scares Egypt's regime.
Masoud, Tarek. "The Egyptian Enigma: ElBaradei Needs to Stop Playing Coy." International Newsweek, May 14, 2010.