Sunday, May 22, 2011

How President Obama can drive me crazy

Like the rest of us, President Obama has his strengths and weaknesses. But where he is strong he is very strong, and where he is weak, he drives me crazy.

Oh, but for a few changes by Obama, and he could well win the admiration and loyalty of that part of America that is savvy challenged – often buying lies and not seeing in-plain-view truth.  They are suspicious of intelligence, and they see something nefarious behind a class act.

I know what you’re thinking. Why would President Obama even want to win these people over? Many of them are voters! That’s why.  Bringing in the sheaves might resonate with Obama if he saw the logic of using his brain not only for soaring loftiness but down-to-earth reality.

That’s it! Just use his brain to be more spontaneous. No prefabricated spontaneity, please. Just allow his brain to allow spontaneity. It’s a no-brainer, really.

But President Obama seems to use his brain to censor himself, and that drives me crazy. Thus, he speaks haltingly with many vocal pauses, some way too long.

Many white Southerners speak that way also, and they do it, I think, to assure accuracy in what they say. Has Obama picked up a bad habit from the South?  I’m a Georgian but I  like New Yorkers because of – not in spite of – their fiery fast-talking and car-hood banging. I find them amusing. Better than that, I see their hearts. They mean you no ill. They just yield sometimes to innate bluster prodded on by antsy genes.

I think I liked President Obama better as a campaigner. Those were the days! But now that he has taken on his presidential mantle, Obama has become too preoccupied, I think, with appearing noble and historical, and that drives me crazy. I’m a historian by nature, and I can assure you that history will   hold Obama high, so what is he worried about?

What’s more, many citizens don’t know Obama actually has a heart when they see little or no external evidence of it. Aye, there’s the rub! All things we experience viscerally while listening to a politician come with what our eyes see and sometimes with what our ears hear. The spoken word – as much as I love it – is only one of the ways we communicate.

Obama loves words because they give him the tools he needs for communicating accurately. But he does not seem to be concerned about speaking accurately from the heart.

Is there something psychological involved here? Yeah, I suspect at some point in his life – maybe several times – Obama got burned by revealing his heart. It may have seemed to be the right thing to do at the time but in politics, rivals will use anything against you, even your greatest asset. Lesson learned.

So Obama appears to be into an ongoing mental chess game. He plays the game not with just one opponent but concurrently with many opponents, all eager to checkmate him before he checkmates them.

Does that sound like survival? Nothing wrong with that. We all develop ways to survive.  It’s part of being human. The fittest survive. But is Obama relying too much on a strong defense at the expense of a vigorous offense? Is Obama stressing his brain and being a little boring with this frenzy of tiring mental activity?  I would be wasted after managing to anticipate the moves of just one opponent. Obama is superior intellectually. Get used to it. But survival by mental design absent spontaneity is like carrying one of your political guns unloaded. Obama is intelligent. He should know this.

I can relate to Obama, however, because I am not exactly a street fighter. He needs to be – and a tough one at that. Americans like fire – openly expressed emotions – when other options are less than satisfying.

Instead, Obama tries to appear noble, and that drives me crazy. Why not let emotions do what they were meant to do? I can still see the 1980 image of candidate Ronald Reagan when he exclaimed, “I am paying for this microphone.” He was participating in a Republican primary debate in New Hampshire, an affair he had paid for. True, he was trying to gain political capital by changing the rules of order and carting in some of his political buddies since he, uh, was paying for the debate.

But the debate moderator was guilty of worse behavior. He ordered the soundman to turn off Reagan’s microphone. Not too smart! If the moderator had any problems with Reagan, he should have voiced them before the debate. Something like: “We will have no debate if one candidate is paying for it.” End of debate.

As it turned out, the moderator personally handed Reagan a priceless gift: a chance to do the Reagan thing. And nobody does Reagan better than Reagan. He immediately seized the opportunity. Did he seem a fool? Yeah, but the audience was all his, especially the TV audience.

I don’t recommend anything this silly for Obama. He’s better than that. He can do his own thing. But does he want to? Is he keeping anything remotely emotional sequestered inside a mental holding cell? Seems so! And we are missing out on some great political footage.

If Obama was ever an attack dog he changed his mode of operation at some point. I suspect it was when he started getting a dose of racism when he grew up and ventured out from the protection of his mother and primarily his grandmother who fought her way up to some banking prominence in Hawaii where whites were second-class citizens. She was tough to the point of being disliked by some, feared by many, but admired for her success as a white woman in a culture that was not enamored with whites or women in positions of leadership.

Early in his life, Obama most likely thought of himself as being like the rest of his family. Color didn’t register with him. When I was growing up in Georgia, that same attitude existed in my rural social circle concerning dark people (most likely Indian ancestry). Everybody was aware they were dark, of course, but the question of color really didn’t register. (I’m slightly dark myself.)

Color registered highly in black-white goings-on, however. We were worlds apart, even though there was more than a fair amount of white-black intimacy, which still exists. This intimacy is a strange mystery. Could it be related to the heart? Could it help explain why so many African-Americans continue migrating to Atlanta and all points Georgia – many into fields of prominence? They’re coming home! Thank you very much!

And I believe they have a forgiving spirit about the horror many of their ancestors had to endure in the South. For that matter, they might have a forgiving spirit about the horror many of their ancestors had to endure in such places as Massachusetts where the thriving slave trade revealed that Big Business will do anything for a buck.

When Obama ventured away from his area of protection, people referred to him as black. It might have been a shock to him. In Chicago apparently, he took on the black persona to a degree and has been considered black ever since, although he is just as much white as he is black and basically was raised as white.

Sometime during this transition, I believe, Obama decided against emotional confrontation and street fighting in the open arena of staking out areas of dominance. He became a manipulator behind the scenes, I think. He learned how to divide and conquer, I suspect. He learned how to find common ground and give others the credit. He seems to have no need for adulation, only progress, even if his name is not attached to it.

I have never seen him truly emotional. That is a failing for a leader because followers like to see their leaders get angry in the process of protecting them. They like fire. And they like street fighting. Obama shuns all of this and operates in a world that is not remotely transparent. Concerning leaks to the press, Obama operates like a CIA director – tougher than any other president on this point because he sees leaks to the press as a national security threat.

Unfortunately, this toughness does not register with much of the public, and that drives me crazy. In fact, the press in most cases does not even inform the public about Obama’s zeal to rein in the press and identify the leakers.

Obama uses tough rhetoric at times, but he should take it a step farther. I recommend using his Hawaii grandmother as a model of toughness – out front – where everybody can see. That would truly be a breath of fresh air. And maybe I could recover from being crazy so much.

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