Thursday, October 23, 2008

Anticipating the Obama Anti-Climax

David Brooks anticipates one or the other of these two Obama presidencies based on his historical and psychological assessments ("Thinking About Obama," New York Times, October 17, 2008):

And it is easy to sketch out a scenario in which he could be a great president. He would be untroubled by self-destructive demons or indiscipline. With that cool manner, he would see reality unfiltered. He could gather — already has gathered — some of the smartest minds in public policy, and, untroubled by intellectual insecurity, he could give them free rein. Though he is young, it is easy to imagine him at the cabinet table, leading a subtle discussion of some long-term problem.

Of course, it’s also easy to imagine a scenario in which he is not an island of rationality in a sea of tumult, but simply an island. New presidents are often amazed by how much they are disobeyed, by how often passive-aggressiveness frustrates their plans.

It could be that Obama will be an observer, not a leader. Rather than throwing himself passionately into his causes, he will stand back. Congressional leaders, put off by his supposed intellectual superiority, will just go their own way. Lost in his own nuance, he will be passive and ineffectual. Lack of passion will produce lack of courage. The Obama greatness will give way to the Obama anti-climax.

This dispassionate observer stance is ideal for a lawyer or professor, but not for a president. Obama has passed through life while barely touching it. You can read how this has been true at every stage of his life in "Obama is All About Obama."

But behind Barack is the very angry and activist Michelle whom Barack said would be his chief advisor. Expect a Michelle driven domestic policy. Look out, America! You're going to make her proud! And you won't recognize yourself when she's done with you.

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