Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Obama's Passive Negative Presidency

In a recent publication of The National Interest, Robert Merry brought up the presidential personality matrix in an effort to discuss the psychology of President Obama and what it may suggest for the rest of the second term. Merry pegged Obama as Active-Negative. This may have been partly due to Merry's biases as he had previously written on Obama being the most leftist president ever (true), and Obama actively engaging in transforming the nation forever (false). Merry's viewing the presidency as a position of unrestrained power and Obama as a social and engaged leader. Perfect timing for the Vanity Fair piece on Obama the loner. Obama is a passive-negative president.

The Vanity Fair piece is fantastic for publicly discussing the loner Obama, but even there, VF cannot go the extra mile to criticize his actions in office or note obvious facts that contradict VF's claims. Steve Sailer does a great job of tearing the VF piece up where it does not reflect observed, documented reality. Ann Althouse has a tag of "Obama's tired". He's low energy, withdrawn, a loner, not a people person, and the supreme confidence thing might be a superiority complex defense mechanism for the unique, manic depressive orphan that he has always been. If no one loves you, you might question your self worth and constantly tell yourself you're awesome. Mixed race Americans (many of whom are White-Asian) are 2% of the population now. What did the black-white kid in Indonesia and then Hawaii have in common with anyone around him? He was always a loner, and being abandoned by both parents, might have doubted his self worth. A lot of amazing people do not have to constantly tell everyone around them how awesome they are. Seems like Obama makes those statements not for the interviewee but to hear himself say it.

I bet he's a smart guy, not mind-blowingly intelligent, as he was not top of his high school class or admitted directly into an Ivy from high school in a less competitive era for Ivy admissions. His special gifts seem specifically suited to the reading comprehension and verbal skills that the LSAT tests for. Many of the best and brightest at Ivies are specialists. After years of seeing him work, we should know by know he's strong there but not elsewhere. That throws journalists off, especially journalists who do not want to admit Dear Leader is an empty suit who is glib and reads the same books as them but not a genius in all realms.

Merry's article on Obama incorrectly categorizes Obama because he falls into the trap of seeing the presidency and Obama incorrectly. Here's the section on Passive-Negative presidents.
Passive-Negative: These are withdrawn people with low self-esteem and little zest for the give-and-take of politics and the glad-handing requirements of the game. They avoid conflict and take no joy in the uses of power. They tend to get themselves boxed up through a preoccupation with principles, rules and procedures.
Sound like Obama? Obama dislikes the game of politics and the uses of power. Obama loves the trappings of power and the perks that come with power. He is incredibly passive and prone to dithering. He campaigned on refocusing on and surging in Afghanistan, but then took months to decide on a surge despite multiple options beign planned in advance. Obama deferred on handling the too big to fail banks to Geithner and Summers. Obama's stimulus was hijacked by feminists in the administration, which means we have no infrastructure upgrades but plenty of social service spending at $800+ billion a year. Obama got cold feet on health care reform as Pelosi was the biggest pusher of the ACA even after the insane Scott Brown upset in Massachusetts. Leon Panetta tricked Jarrett and Obama into the OBL raid, which Obama called off multiple times due to Jarrett's advice. The same raid he played cards during because he couldn't watch the whole thing. Is the gum chewing during Syria option briefing activist behavior? The VF article on Obama's personality, with all of its flaws, is still a stake through the Merry classification.

In the 21st centry, the presidency is not a job one walks into and acts like a wrecking ball on the nation's institutions. President Jackson's behavior cannot be duplicated now due to the office's nature. How many insider accounts does one need to read to realize so much happens outside the president's knowledge or are forced on the president before realizing the office has limitations? Woodward's Bush At War is a great account about how so many individuals had plans and outlines already prepared by the bureaucracy or Pentagon. In one of the funniest exchanges in any presidential book, Condoleeza Rice explains to President Bush that they were a football team that had to work together. President Bush asked Rice if he was the quarterback, but she says no, he was more like the coach, directing and making big decisions on choices laid out for him. Bush expected the more active role of quarterback, not the manager role. One wonders if Bush's delight in being commander in chief was due to a more active role in governing compared to the rest of the job. Most, if not all, of Bush's agenda was dreamed up and discussed by our pundit class for years.

Passive and active in Jefferson, Jackson or Roosevelt's day are alien to modern presidents. We have a cathedral after all. They can handle a majority of things and prefer to not have their turf invaded or cut down in breadth. The last man who tried the wrecking ball approach was Nixon. Nixon, with Kissinger, set up back channel communications between Kissinger, Nixon and foreign leaders, and this angered the men in the Pentagon and the "striped-pants faggots" (Nixon's phrase) in Foggy Bottom. Nixon also wanted to clean up the FBI by bringing in an outsider as the director. What happened to Nixon? Ousted over a small bugging cover up most likely orchaestrated and manipulated by the very people he was cutting in on. Seems quaint forty years later. Books on Obama's presidency have mentioned his loner style, no Clinton wonk talk late night sessions, golf, basketball, and generally reacting to what comes to him. In an odd way, Tucker Max's description of Obama's basketball skills tells more about his personality and how others interacted with him. People expected more and he had some basics down, but he never had the inner spark to take over or dominate, even as a point guard. He is a passive player in all realms. Part of Obama's passive-negative presidency is the nature of the office and government today and part of it is Obama's personality that few actually want to see or believe.


Portlander said...

Very interesting.

If I may (hopefully) anticipate your next post, what's this imply for a Bloomberg presidency?

RE: Nixon Deep Throat was #2 at the FBI after all.

Son of Brock Landers said...

My longshot bet would be on Bloomberg. I'm just Bloomberg watching now because his moves are not the moves of a retiring billionaire.

As far as DT, yes Felt came out as the source, but Woodward has stated multiple times that Deep Throat was a composite but then said multiple times he was one man. I've read DT was Felt and I've read that DT was a combo of Felt and Alexander Haig. Felt was upset that he was passed over. I actually posted on this maybe a year or so ago. The Washington establishment from media to FBI to CIA to Pentagon agreed that Nixon had to go.