Here’s a photo of Obama that I think typifies the pro-anti Obama divide. I look at this and see a sneering, arrogant, condescending jerk who has nothing but contempt for his audience. Liberals look at this and see an uplifting, thoughtful, inspiring visage of a man whose eyes are on a distant but beautiful future.
You can make up your own mind.
Regular readers of this blog know that I quite frequently think I can get into the minds of people based on thier body language, tone of voice, choice of words and their actions. I know, of course, that I really can’t read minds, but my personal opinion is that I’m usually pretty good at discerning people’s ulterior and (they think) hidden motives and agendas.
So here’s my take on Obama after a year of watching him, listening to him and reading his words.
Obama really isn’t that into you. Not on a “feel your pain” sort of individual level. He’s just not that interested. He believes that getting wrapped up in the concerns and worries of individual Americans just clouds the vastly more important work of contemplating the goals of society overall. Reagan read letters from individual Americans every weekend and his reactions to those letters affected his own understanding of what was going on in this country and helped shape his public policy. Don’t expect that to happen with Obama. He’s just not that into you.
Obama is bored with actually BEING President. It’s not that much fun. People don’t do what he wants and sometimes he has to endure actual criticism, which he really doesn’t care to hear. He likes the constant attention and the accolades that are thrown his way, but the actual work of governing is something that he detests. He just wants to point his finger and have his desires done. When he says he will “never give up” and will “work tirelessly” to achieve a goal, that’s just total bullshit. He gives up all the time, and he avoids the hard decisions that he needs to make. This is true whether we’re talking about him avoiding his wartime generals for four months while making plans to party in Stockholm, or whether he’s farming out the creation of his supposedly “signature” legislation to the partisan attack-hound duo of Pelosi/Reid. In general when the going gets hard, Obama just gets going.
Obama is supremely arrogant. You can tell by how he constructs his “arguments” about things. He never actually addresses any rebuttal to his statements, he uses a variety of rhetorical devices to sneer at his opponents. These devices range from outright condescension to his now-famous use of an endless supply of straw man arguments to promote his point of view. He doesn’t debate, he pontificates. Every time he says “make no mistake about it” or “let me be perfectly clear” my eyes glaze over, because he will follow that with purely ideological statements that have no basis in reality beyond them being obvious only to the “true believer.” This is why he lies so much. He really doesn’t care to have an honest conversation because he really doesn’t see the point. If you don’t agree with him, you’re an idiot anyway, so why should he waste time with you?
Obama is monumentally insecure. He is the most thin-skinned President in my lifetime. His emotions are completely transparent. He has never learned self-control. When he is irritated it radiates through his every pore, from his body posture to his clenched jaws to his sneering, condescending tone of voice. And he gets irritated very easily. Glenn Reynolds says that the best way to hurt Obama is to ridicule him, because Obama can’t take it. This is a classic symptom of insecurity. Obama has in the last few weeks begun complaining that the press is out to get him. This isn’t merely an example of complete divorcement from reality, it’s a fundamentally insecure reaction. The slightest criticism of his policies, his performance or his style is magnified by his insecurity until it becomes a vicious attack on his person. It is this fundamental insecurity that causes him to seek constant refuge behind teleprompters for even the most trivial of events. He is using the podium and teleprompters as much as metaphorical shields as speaking devices. You can see this in photos of him on the White House Flikr page. In those photos he has a variety of physical objects or just sheer distance separating him from his advisers, Secretaries and visiting dignitaries. His favorite technique seems to be to push back and lean back in his chair with his feet on the desk facing the “audience.” It’s a way to say “I’m not really with you, I’m at a distance so I can avoid direct feedback.” I’ve been a manager for most of my adult life, and I have never had a boss in a meeting place their feet on their desk, soles pointing at his staff, nor have I done the same except in the most casual of circumstances. It’s simply rude. Obama enjoys doing it because it makes him feel he’s got something to shield him from the potential for his staff or visitors to say something he doesn’t want to hear. It’s fundamentally a disengagement technique. So is leaning up against a wall while in conversation. Anyone who has ever taken communication classes knows that those sorts of techniques create automatic disengagement from the audience. But that’s the point, that’s what Obama is seeking.
There are many (like me) who knew Obama was woefully unqualified for the position of the Presidency. Those who still supported him believed that Obama would grow in the office. But in my opinion the reverse has happened. Obama has not grown in the last twelve months. He has shrunk.