posted 2012-10-05 22:12:27

An Introspective President

Why we don’t need an insider for president 

Phyll Pope

Opinion Editor

The U.N. General Assembly met on the last Tuesday of September, which you knew either because you are, as I am, an avid consumer of news, or because you essentially couldn’t get anywhere on the east side that morning. You may have seen the flashing lights of Obama’s entourage, as the President was very busy that day, with an appearance with his wife on The View recorded earlier that morning, to a speech before the U.N. General Assembly addressing and condemning the actions of the terrorists whose violent riots have resulted in the death of Ambassador Stephens and others, a speech in which he condemned human trafficking, calling it the “newest form of slavery”. All this before 1 p.m. Clearly Mr. Obama was very busy.

Many pundits and politicians have, however, focused on the fact that the president appears to be too busy to meet with some of the world leaders who’ve made the journey to the east side. The first reaction of conservatives, desperate to seize upon anything that could get their candidate back in the race, was to call Obama careless. Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Robert Gibbs, Obama’s Press Secretary, “He [Obama] has time for Whoopi Goldberg, but he doesn’t have time for world leaders?” My first reaction, of course, was, “Hey what’s wrong with Whoopi?” However I think that, rather than carelessness, this is indicative of the introspective nature of our president.

John Heilemann, who has been following President Obama closely since before he won the presidency in 2008, seems to believe that many of his policy decisions have something to do with his general dislike of humanity. “I don’t think he doesn’t like people. I know he doesn’t like people. He’s not an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’ve known the guy since 1988. He’s not someone who has a wide circle of friends. He’s not a backslapper and he’s not an arm-twister. He’s a more or less solitary figure who has extraordinary communicative capacities.”

Some have taken the thought even farther, touting it as the main reason why the President has been unable to get any of his proposals pushed through congress. It doesn’t appear that Obama’s inability to get his agenda pushed through the House of Representatives is simply a result of disagreement on policy, but also, and probably mostly, stems from a general dislike and contempt leaders of the opposition party. An excerpt from the book “The Price of Politics”, written by journalist Bob Woodward (known for discovering the Watergate scandal) frames the 2010 debt-deal negotiations between President Obama and as not simply a battle of will and ideology, but also one of taste. John Boehner is quoted in the book saying, “I’m sitting there smoking a cigarette, drinking merlot, and I look across the table and there is the president of the United States drinking iced tea and chomping on Nicorette.” Woodward also states further in the book that Boehner sharply told the president that the congress would work on a plan themselves, and wouldn’t negotiate with him.

This has made many people clang for the likes of President Clinton. Clinton, who once told reporters he regretted nothing more challenging happened during his candidacy so that he could make a better claim as one of the greatest presidents, is viewed in today’s uneasy and increasingly dimorphic political climate more favorably because he was able, with a Republican congress, to get much legislature passed. President Clinton’s approval ratings, at 64% in Gallup polls, are 12 points higher than Obama’s 52%, 18 points higher than his successor, George W. Bush’s, current 46% and 21 points higher than former Governor Romney’s current 43%. Clinton was able to do what he was able to do what he did apparently because he likes people, and Obama doesn’t.

However, Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” told Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller that Heilemann, and therefore a great chunk of pundits and the public has gotten about pegged wrong. “[Clinton] is the type of person who visibly comes alive and energized with crowds of people, and Obama really is not like that at all,” Cain said. “He by all accounts is somebody who prefers the company of people he knows well. You get the sense from him that he truly cares about people… but he doesn’t try to work the cocktail party.” Perhaps this may make Obama come off as a bit too cool, too cold perhaps, but introverts also tend to do is take more time to think about their actions before they take them. For example, though Clinton is perhaps the better glad-hander, he also stained his legacy by unwisely having an affair as incautiously as he did with Monica Lewinsky. “You can’t imagine Obama in a million years getting into a mess like that,” Cain said. “A person who has that more cautious, more reserved temperament is much less likely to get the country into that [position] in the first place.”

Isn’t that the very reason we gave Obama the job? We went through eight years of President George “Yosemite Sam” Bush, who seemed to shoot straight from the hip, as the saying goes, and ended up with two wars, and a leveled New Orleans, a growing gap between the rich and the poor, trillions of dollars of debt, and the greatest financial recession since the 1930’s. We went through eight years of a President whose gaffes and verbal mishaps make Joe Biden look like James Lipton from Inside the Actors Studio, and completely erased whatever shadow of respect the other nations in the world had for us.

We elected Obama as a reformer, as a man who hadn’t spent so long in the it was, how corrupt the wheeling and dealing had gotten, how far away from the concerns of Main Street Capitol Hill had truly gotten. Why should it be a surprise that Obama, whom we elected because he is so much the antithesis of everything these harbingers of this decrepit, corrupt political system, is so much disliked by them? We don’t want another politician in office. Obama isn’t just a President, but a symbol of the resilience of the American lower and middle class, who despite that laxidasical nature of a media who seeks balance over objectivity, viewership over integrity, sponsorship over the truth, still are able to see that things simply aren’t right in the nation’s capital. He’s a symbol that if real Americans stand up and fight back against corporate interests through canvasing and grassroots campaigns and, most importantly the vote, the power will always remain in the hands of the 99% as long as they work to keep it.

That enthusiasm for justice and freedom has dissipated. Many feel that Obama wasn’t the same candidate they vote for that November four years ago. “All politicians are the same” I’ve heard people say. It is that kind of spirit of cynicism that members of corporate-political “machine” in Washington have seized upon. They want you to doubt yourself. They want you to think they’re all the same. If that were true, however, why is it that they hate Obama so much? Why don’t they trust him? Obama hasn’t left your side. He’s still working for your interests in the White House. He’s still campaigning, reaching out to the masses in the city and the countryside, giving speeches, but you aren’t there. Many of you aren’t actively touting your support for him. Many of you are going to stay home on November 6th. It wasn’t Obama that gave up on “Hope and Change”. It was us.