October 9, 2011

"Obama, the Loner President"

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Obama's need for Alone Time. Now the Washington Post has a big article on that theme. Obama has always reminded me a little bit of myself -- if I had a gigantic enough ego to think I should be President and then actually got elected President for some dopey, irrelevant reason, like everyone suddenly deciding it would be awesome to have a tall President. 
Obama, the loner president
By Scott Wilson, Published: October 7 
Beyond the economy, the wars and the polls, President Obama has a problem: people. 
This president endures with little joy the small talk and back-slapping of retail politics, rarely spends more than a few minutes on a rope line, refuses to coddle even his biggest donors. His relationship with Democrats on Capitol Hill is frosty, to be generous. Personal lobbying on behalf of legislation? He prefers to leave that to Vice President Biden, an old-school political charmer. 
Obama’s circle of close advisers is as small as the cluster of personal friends that predates his presidency. There is no entourage, no Friends of Barack to explain or defend a politician who has confounded many supporters with his cool personality and penchant for compromise. 
Obama is, in short, a political loner who prefers policy over the people who make politics in this country work. ... 
Which raises an odd question: Is it possible to be America’s most popular politician and not be very good at American politics? 
Obama’s isolation is increasingly relevant as the 2012 campaign takes shape, because it is pushing him toward a reelection strategy that embraces the narrow-cast politics he once rejected as beneath him. Now he is focused on securing the support of traditional Democratic allies — minorities, gays, young people, seniors, Jews — rather than on making new friends, which was the revolutionary approach he took in 2008, when millions of first-time voters cast their ballots for his promise of change. 

Most of those first-time voters were either young or minorities, so I don't see that big a difference.
This essay is based on conversations with people inside and outside the White House since March 2009, when I began covering the Obama administration.  ... 
The president’s supreme confidence in his intellectual abilities and faith in the power of good public policy left the political advisers and policymakers in his White House estranged.  
.... “He’s playing chess in a town full of checkers players,” a senior adviser and campaign veteran told me in the first months of the administration. Obama had a “different metabolism,” the aide explained. 
“It’s not cockiness,” the adviser added, “it’s confidence.” 
... Who was the president listening to? The academics, bankers and campaign operatives who populated his inner circle — with personalities much like his own.

... On the stump, Obama is often the star of his own story, preferring a first-person identification with nearly any issue. 
... But where is everyone else in the running autobiography that is the Obama presidency? 
The president never spends more than 15 minutes working a rope line, his advisers say, and donors complain about a White House that keeps Obama away from the necessary push and pull of America’s capitalist democracy. 
The Clinton presidency, which Obama frequently praises for its economic stewardship, offers an instructive comparison. 
Where Clinton worked a room until he met everyone, Obama prefers to shake a few hands, offer brief remarks and head home to spend the night in the residence, so he can have breakfast with his girls the next morning and send them off to school. That may be good for his mental health

Uh-huh ...
, but it’s a challenge for those in the reelection campaign assigned to manage the whims of big donors. 

Whenever I read this kind of inner circle anti-Obama piece, I always get the impression the writer has just gotten off the phone with Haim Saban complaining that Hillary would be a much better President.
... After hours, Obama prefers his briefing book and Internet browser, a solitary preparation he undertakes each night after Sasha and Malia go to bed. 
... Obama rarely uses the trappings of his office or his status to make new political allies, whether it’s an evening phone call to a big donor or a thank you to a legislator who casts a tough vote.

Black people in Chicago never thought he was all that. His own wife isn't terribly awestruck by him. They had about the right read on him. He's kind of a small man: relatively elegant as far as politicians go, but not a big man. It's just white people who kept telling him he should be President. 

The weird thing is that nobody in the press ever wants to admit that Obama got to be President because he's black -- or, too be more precise, because he's an extremely white black guy. That's just unthinkable. Instead, he got to be President because of some extremely long, complicated reason that the pundit makes up.

Here's a thought experiment to test that: What if his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro had decided to tell everybody that little Barry was his son, and Stanley Ann had gone along with the gag? (Weirder stuff has happened.) Barry wouldn't have known. He was a tot when his real dad skedaddled. Lolo could have gone around saying, "Granted, my kid doesn't look totally Indonesian, but his wooly hair comes from this New Guinean great-grandmother of mine I never happened to have mentioned before." 

So, assume Obama goes through roughly the same life, but he, and everybody else, believes he's half Indonesian/Papuan and half white. Would he be President today? Would you even have ever heard of him?

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

nobody in the press ever wants to admit that Obama got to be President because he's black --
It's easier to blame the tea party for barak not doing well. btw if there are soft 'innner circle articles' like this .. i wonder how bad he is really doing.. Like the sorid behind the scenes life of MLK.

Is he just incompetent? Is michelle looting the treasury? Or is there something even more sinister.

none shall pass said...

Sounds like Obama is merely an introvert, which is a disadvantage for a politician. Read the classic Jonathan Rauch essay on introverts here, which is quite enlightening.

Anonymous said...

Steve - this is the sort of post that makes me glad you write.

Of course it isn't about Barack Hussein Obama's phenotypic traits. It is all about him being The One.

And clearly The One certainly can't be half-Papuan.

Mercer said...

" got to be President because of some extremely long, complicated reason that the pundit makes up. "

He was a Dem who was against the Iraq attack. Iraq was by far the biggest issue to Dems in early 2008. Would you prefer a President Kucinich?

Nixon was at least as introverted as Obama. We are reading articles like Wilson's because the economy is in the dumps. If the economy was booming he would be writing about Obama's great political skills in passing a health care law.

I think people focus to much on personalities in politics and not on policy. If Obama had pushed an immigration crackdown like Alabama, slapped a tariff on China and appointed more expansive Federal Reserve Board members unemployment would be lower and Obama would be riding high in the polls.

Anonymous said...

IT's an opinion piece, Steve. That means, this guy is bullshitting, just like what you do.

Two bullshitters referencing each other does not truth make.

neil craig said...

He might have lacked the ambition (I won't say drive) to be President, but been happier, having a father who acknowleged him.

But as Palin perceptively said "The presidency isn't supposed to be a voyage of self discovery".

Anonymous said...

He was a Dem who was against the Iraq attack. Iraq was by far the biggest issue to Dems in early 2008.
yeah that's why SWPL liberal women were fainting, SWPL guys designing cool, soviet era logos for him, gratis, and .. that's why SWPL aren't mad .. about continuing to bomb Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan.. etc.

Kylie said...

"I think people focus to much on personalities in politics and not on policy."

Lucky for Obama that they do. He was able to come across as the cool hip black man, rather than the angry black man, so he was indeed the black One so many clueless whites had been waiting for.

"If Obama had pushed an immigration crackdown like Alabama, slapped a tariff on China and appointed more expansive Federal Reserve Board members unemployment would be lower and Obama would be riding high in the polls."

If Obama had done any or all of those things, he wouldn't be Obama. He made it clear in that infamous 2001 NPR interview that he was all for "redistribution of wealth" and "political and economic justice"--i.e., the transfer of wealth from white to black that Steve has documented based on Obama's own writings.

Anonymous said...

The president’s supreme confidence in his intellectual abilities and faith in the power of good public policy left the political advisers and policymakers in his White House estranged. .... “He’s playing chess in a town full of checkers players,”
SWPL fantasies.. "oh he's too smart for DC and the stupid Tea Party is blocking the utopia that would have occurred!"

dearieme said...

"Obama got to be President because ...he's an extremely white black guy": be fair, that's pretty much what Biden said.

dearieme said...

So, assume JFK goes through roughly the same life, except that he's from a poor but honest family, without political connections. Would he have become President? Would George W Shrub have become President? Would Franklin Delano Rinkelmann?

Anonymous said...

"Obama is, in short, a political loner who prefers policy..."

He does? So THAT's why I've never heard any original policy ideas from him.

"Which raises an odd question: Is it possible to be America’s most popular politician and not be very good at American politics?"

Heh. Is it possible to be a Princeton graduate and write "thank-you" for "thank you"? The reason is the same.

"The president’s supreme confidence in his intellectual abilities..."

Now THAT's black. I've never met a black person who ever needed any alone time, but self-confidence IS very black, regardless of whether or not there's anything there to back it up.

“He’s playing chess in a town full of checkers players,”

Politics is full of super-smart people. I'd just been reading about Chuck Schumer - he scored 1600 on the old SAT. Spitzer, disgraced governor of New York - 1590. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar. And on and on. Who the hell does Obama think he is?

“It’s not cockiness,” the adviser added"

Argggh.

Anonymous said...

The second link is wrong.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

The Clinton presidency, which Obama frequently praises for its economic stewardship, offers an instructive comparison.
Where Clinton worked a room until he met everyone, Obama prefers to shake a few hands


Democrats need to get over Clinton's preternatural charm and people skills. Even in a profession know for extroverts, he was way outside the norm. They're starting to sound like a girlfriend who expects her current boyfriend to measure up to all the strengths of her previous boyfriends.

I am Lugash.

Doug1 said...

"So, assume Obama goes through roughly the same life, but he, and everybody else, believes he's half Indonesian/Papuan and half white. Would he be President today? Would you even have ever heard of him?"

Brilliant though experiment way of proving your point that Obama got elected because he's an extremely white black man. Actually extremely elite (heavily fake, AA) vetted white, what with Columbia and Harvard law and law review and all.

Anonymous said...

Mercer - you are talking about policies. I suspect the nice SWPL types never knew what heis polices were or anything else. All they knew was he was a presentable black guy they could vote for.

Basically they voted for him because he was black, nothing else to know.

Simon in London said...

" Now he is focused on securing the support of traditional Democratic allies — minorities, gays, young people, seniors, Jews — rather than on making new friends, which was the revolutionary approach he took in 2008, when millions of first-time voters cast their ballots for his promise of change.

Most of those first-time voters were either young or minorities, so I don't see that big a difference."

You're right of cpurse, and Obama won rather narrowly against exceptionally weak opposition in McCain. From what I can tell, Obama did benefit from high first time voter turn-out among young SWPLs, but a second major benefit was black men, who rarely bother to vote, voting for him, combined with exceptionally high black female turn-out, although the % difference may have been less as black women already vote heavily and nearly all Democrat.

My guess would be that in 2012 Obama will have much reduced enthusiasm from young SWPLs, he will still do well among black men though their turnout will be somewhat reduced, while black women will remain enthusiastic. He will suffer from major loss of support among soccer-moms and working class white women. Obama's foreign policy success (killing Bin Laden) and relative lack of foreign policy disasters (compared to GW Bush) will gain him no additional support.

However the Republicans do not seem to have a strong candidate; with a cold-blooded establishmentarian Republican like Romney 2012 voter turnout may be very low overall. Things would change if Michele Bachmann or a similar red-blooded Tea Partier got the Republican nomination, that would energise the base of both parties.

Dennis Dale said...

BHO wasn't black enough for Chicago, but he was white enough for America.
Sort of like failing upward.

Dennis Dale said...

“He’s playing chess in a town full of checkers players,” a senior adviser and campaign veteran told me in the first months of the administration. Obama had a “different metabolism,” the aide explained.

Looking forward to the post-mortem "Obama was too smart for Washington" meme.

Anonymous said...

"But as Palin perceptively said "The presidency isn't supposed to be a voyage of self discovery"."

Excellent point indeed. Too bad she waited til this week to read her own memo.

Anonymous said...

Daddy issues really have become a part of the political landscape, haven't they?

Mr. Anon said...

"Where Clinton worked a room until he met everyone, Obama prefers to shake a few hands, offer brief remarks and head home to spend the night in the residence, so he can have breakfast with his girls the next morning and send them off to school."

A good example of why Barack Obama is a better man than Bill Clinton. The impression I always got of Clinton was that he was nothing more than an empty vessel, waiting to be filled up with the next stimulus. Or, as Jesse Jackson astutely put it, that "there was nothing there but an appetite".

Georgia Resident said...

Obama got to be president because he's a light-skinned negro who doesn't talk with a negro dialect, except when he wants to (ie, when he needs to remind his negro supporters to go out and vote for him). I meet feel sorry for Harry Reid and the flak he caught for his outburst of Elderly Tourette's Syndrome, except that he and his ilk have been pushing the kind of crap that got used against him in that case.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what that bout of speculation was all about at the end of the article. Bummer wouldn't have been able to be the 1st Asian president b/c of relative expectations for black vs Asian personalities. Cold and controlled is cold and controlled. I suspect this is why Romney and not Christie will be the Rep nominee. Christie's dynamic personality would've been too much of a threat in a real election. It's gonna be 4 more years of O as the powers that be obviously want.

Watch with the fanciful hypotheticals not that you were trying to get published in the WSJ but they do come across a fanciful, even fey, unless they're more firmly grounded in relevance.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer a President Kucinich.

hall monitor said...

well, don't get me wrong, I love some of the posts here and even own a copy of Sailer's Obama book (very good w/ occasional flaws in clarity), but isn't this one just a dashed-off reaction to a WP story that was fundamentally frivolous in the first place? It's slipping further from belle-lettristic Zeitgeistery into straightforward celebrity obsession. Look around (e.g. Occupy Atlanta videos), the traditional mechanisms for preventing wide-scale all-day frivolity among large numbers of people have broken down. Yeah, I realize the paradox of saying that through an anonymous comment on a blog. But does it follow that psychoanalyzing Obama is the best use of everybody's or the smart people's time? He "is what he is" and let's move on please

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the post-mortem "Obama was too smart for Washington" meme.
can't you already read the article? "Look you got this intelligent, young, good looking black man who was there to make changes, and a lot of old white males, who got into harvard because of who their dads were, didn't like that "

Freddy Rumson said...

Mr Anon since you are quoting "Reverend" Jesse Jackson - look up his assessment of Beloved Leader Obama

Something about "Cutting his balls off..."???

Truth said...

"Heh. Is it possible to be a Princeton graduate and write "thank-you" for "thank you"? The reason is the same."

Yeah, I'd say it is.

"Who the hell does Obama think he is?"

The president?

Mill House said...

I think of Barry as a Nixon the press likes.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

If Obama loses next year, I'll be interested to see the reaction from the nation's black leadership. One of their biggest chips in the game, that Amerikkka is a fundamentally racist country, will have been spent, and they'll have gotten really nothing in return for it except 9% national unemployment and no demonstrable closing of The Gap.

Anonymous said...

"Why Obama Failed" will spawn 1000s of books and a 1,000 liberal faculty positions at universities around the country. It will become an entire cottage industry that people devote their entire lives too.

Anonymous said...

"Obama is, in short, a political loner who prefers policy..."

What the hell? He doesn't "prefer policy." He prefers ideology. He farms out all policies -or at least he did when the Democrats owned both houses- to Pelosi and Reid.

The man is not a policy wonk as was Clinton. Not as an executive nor as a legislator on either the state or the fed level has he ever shown any policy chops.

Pure liberal ideology and what's most troublesome is that he seems to not be well read in either history or the sciences, meaning that his ideology is not even based on the misreading of those subjects but on ignorance about them.

Anonymous said...

"nobody in the press ever wants to admit that Obama got to be President because he's black"

Not so. They admitted that from day one by reminding us over and over that his presidency is 'historic' and 'it's a great thing for this country to have a black president'.

What the media won't admit is they overhyped it to the point where Obie was made into messiah.

Anonymous said...

It's just Obama doing that in-the-elevator-as-intern schtick. He considers himself Mr. True but people around him remind him that he is owned by their brains, money, and connections.

Also, white liberals must dote on him like a Magic Negro pet dog messiah, and he must feel both patronized and worshiped. It must be weird.

CorkyAgain said...

How much of what we're getting from this administration is Obama's doing and how much of it is what the Democratic party machine would deliver even if someone else was their man/woman in the oval office?

Personally, I've never thought he was anything more than a figurehead. He's no more running the show than a network news anchor is putting together the stories he reads on TV.

But now his ratings are slipping, so the party bosses are trying to figure out how to replace him without losing the part of the audience he was brought in to attract.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Obama is much more comfortable around black people, and to a lesser degree, minorities than whites. The problem is that his current job requires him to root for everybody and not just his tribe, at least openly. He has to hide his anti-white resentment in the closet and cannot cut loose like he could in Rev. Wright’s church or as a community organizer when he was nobody.

Prof. Woland

Anonymous said...

The confidence in his abilities that is often mentioned by those observing the President close up is not unlike that of the true psychopath who may often be no more than distinctly above average in actual ability level. The capacity to fool others and to seem to be what one is not, is not just limited to emotional "masks" but also, with a verbally talented person, to various intellectual facades, as well. Yet again, where is there a full and faithful transcript or a video recording of his ever ever going toe-to-toe in rigorous and sustained debate with someone able enough to provide a yardstick to the President's actual abilities??

Jonathan S said...

One lesson to draw from Obama's African ancestry, and his impressive intelligence relative to other half-Africans, and, especially in the Presidential election, the combination of the two, is what compensated for the handicap of introversion.

It's often said that a white guy with Obama's resume would never have made it to the White House, and that's true. Just as true, and more striking, is that an introvert whose boring ancestry (read: white or Asian parentage) wouldn't have sent a thrill up the media's leg would also have failed to get that far.

Anonymous said...

Anecdotes (with a basis in reality?) aside, the President's life at the onset of adolescence ( when he insisted insisted insisted he get to leave his schizy smother mother and go live with her parents ) belies that he felt any significance of race in his life--other than a very useful "card" he could pull out of sleeve and use to manipulate in some settings on some occasions. The President brings new and scary meaning to the term "self discovery". He should have sought both a copyright and a patent for each of his "autobiographies".

Anonymous said...

Notice how with Steve Sailer it's never the marxism when searching for the root cause of Obama failure.

No, it's always something else. Always something in the personality, not in the ideology. This time apparently it's that Obama's a loner. Good grief.

Peter A said...

"Notice how with Steve Sailer it's never the marxism when searching for the root cause of Obama failure. "

Exactly. Because his other flaws aside, Obama is clearly no Marxist, and Sailer is smart enough to get that.

catperson said...

Obama got elected because he is an intelligent anti-neocon East African mulatto who had the support of Oprah. After 8 years of neocons and nepotism (the Bush family), people wanted someone as different from Bush as possible, so Obama being not only opposed to the Iraq war, but having the middle name of the man that war deposed ("hussein") seemed like the ultimate rejection of Bush.

And unlike Bush who inherited the presidency through blood, Obama was not only not a member of the Bush family, but he was not even a member of the white race, so he represented the ultimate rejection of the nepotism Bush symbolized.

And unlike other African Americans who have broad prognathous features and robust muscular body builds, Obama with his elegant tall gracile body build and more caucasoid East African/European face and golden skin, was really the first African American the white elite could look up to.

However to working class whites and African Americans, Obama was either too exotic, too elite or not black enough and they were rallying around Hillary in droves. Enter Oprah: The one woman statistically tied with Hillary as the most admired woman in America in the 2007 Gallup poll and a woman with mass appeal among the working class of both races. She brilliantly went down to Iowa and South Carolina and declared Obama "the one" and told blacks There are those who think Obama isn't ready yet and needs to wait his turn. Think about where you'd be in your own life if you listened when the people told you to wait. I know I wouldn't be where I am if I waited on all the people who told me it couldn't be. Martin Luther King dreamed the dream; now we can vote that dream into reality.

It was the best political speech of the decade, and Obama went on to win both states, gain the support of the media and his momentum became unstoppable.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the latest and maybe greatest "Downfall" parody (re: Obama & Holder)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YtBxoQEkZ0&feature=player_embedded

bgc said...

So, Obama will NOT be running for a second term.

He has nothing to gain and a lot to lose by a second term - he would earn more and work less and get more adulation as an ex-President.

All he needs is a half-way plausible exit strategy (probably long since in place).

The only reason that Obama would *not* pull out of the next election is if he cares more about the immediate future of the Democrats than about himself...

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Obama is much more comfortable around black people, and to a lesser degree, minorities than whites.

I wonder if it isnt the reverse. He is more comfortable round whites but has to grin and bare it and hob nob with minority types.

Anonymous said...

From Stoner to Loner.

Anonymous said...

He is intelligent enough, but he is an introvert. The president must have an strong grasp on reality like Ronald Reagan, even if not on all things. For body types your best bet for a president is a mesomorph like Romney. For women it`s the Thacher, Hilary Clinton or Merkel type. Those women all look the same.
I`m trying for years, at least in Finnish blogosphere, to tell that the next big thing in HBD is the personality. Contra Whiskey the women are right about some things.
Alpha is better.
-Gc

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Because his other flaws aside, Obama is clearly no Marxist, and Sailer is smart enough to get that.

Frankfurt School-style marxism (the only kind that matters unless you're crazy enough to believe in Marxist economics) was already well on the road to hegemony during the Ike years:
http://fatherfeeney.org/point/59-jan.html
Most Americans, hearing this question, would answer promptly, “Yes, by all means, hate should be outlawed!” Their eagerness to reply can be accounted for all too easily. During the last decade and a half, they have been pounded with a propaganda barrage calculated to leave them in a state of dazed affability toward the whole world. Those advertising techniques that are normally used to encourage Americans to be choosy in matters of soap and toothpaste are now being enlisted to persuade them that there is no such thing as a superior product in matters of culture and creed. On billboards, on bus and subway posters, in newspapers and magazines, through radio and television broadcasts, Americans are being assured and reassured, both subtly and boldly, that “Bigotry is fascism ... Only Brotherhood can save our nation ... We must be tolerant of all!”

The long-range effects of this campaign are even now evident. It is producing the “spineless citizen”: the man who has no cultural sensibilities; who is incapable of indignation; whose sole mental activity is merely an extension of what he reads in the newspaper or sees on the television screen; who faces moral disaster in his neighborhood, political disaster in his country, and an impending world catastrophe with a blank and smiling countenance. He has only understanding for the enemies of his country. He has nothing but kind sentiments for those who would destroy his home and family. He has an earnest sympathy for anyone who would obliterate his faith. He is universally tolerant. He is totally unprejudiced. If he has any principles, he keeps them well concealed, lest in advocating them he should seem to indicate that contrary principles might be inferior. He is, to the extent of his abilities, exactly like the next citizen, who, he trusts, is trying to be exactly like him: a faceless, characterless putty-man.

Anonymous said...

"Obama has always reminded me a little bit of myself..."

OMG You frighten me with such a statement, Steve, please come back --- don't follow the light!

The Anti-Gnostic said...

My guess is that Obama is much more comfortable around black people, and to a lesser degree, minorities than whites.

Is that really true? Judging by his political associations and appointments, I'd say he prefers Jews and old white women and after that, old white men. But maybe his personal life is different. Who are his really close friends?

Remember the Obamas' African Safari? They didn't look very comfortable.

Has Barack ever done his shopping at The Other Mall?

Anonymous said...

Obama has always reminded me a little bit of myself



My list of "Words I never expected to see" has just gotten longer.

Anonymous said...

I think I read recently somewhere (likely from Sailer) that a 2nd Obama term, with Republicans holding/gaining in Congress, would ruin the national Democratic Party for maybe a couple of decades. Because black Democrats will credibly insist they're the glue of the party and that the 2016 nominee be black, half, or in-between... Would be fascinating to know what our President thinks of such a theory

David said...

>Basically they voted for him because he was black, nothing else to know.<

Well that and, like catperson said, because he wasn't Bush.

That's literally as deep as it went, around here anyway.

1- "It's time America had a Black Man as President"; 2 - "Anybody but Bush." Then they mashed the button on the screen.

Anonymous said...

.."no it's always something else...something in the personality."
*************************************
The way the President defines himself in his two autobiographies, etc., does not stand up to scrutiny. He seems to assemble and reassemble himself out of whatever he can appear to be from whatever others have observed him to be. His "clothing issue" appears to be a kind of neo Marxism, true enough, but underneath ideology, he seems to be a total narcissist.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Gnostic--where the President feels "at home" ?
***********************************
I wouldn't forget the alleged all
"male" bathhouses in Chicago. There's troubling indication the President is most at home with guys who like guys, whatever the overt distractors--pigmentation, neo-Marxist cliches, baritone intonations of deep passions (stage show), etc. There is a scary hollowness to President Obama, and the apparently superficial nature of much of his "socializing" is consistent with such emptiness. Very little is actually known about him, cultivated appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.