I’ve been thinking lately. What is it about Obama that makes it so likely he will disappoint? And why is he so frequently disappointing?
Right after he was first elected-in a landslide, you’ll recall-he let himself be moribund by a Senate in which 40% were able to stymie any legislation effortlessly. I’ve always maintained that was his biggest, and first major, mistake.
Had he fought then for the rule of the majority, or at least for inflicting pain on the minority when it decided to be obstructive, things would have been very different. Instead he tried to reason with a recalcitrant subgroup of the congress and wound up both losing his mandate and control of the congress when the house was turned Republican in 2010.
He’s never had much of a chance since then and apparently failed even to believe he retained any moral authority when he was re-elected last year.
Then there’s Syria and Egypt. In both cases he just sat on his hands, ignoring his own “red line” against chemical warfare in Syria and refusing to call an obvious coup a coup in Egypt. The result has been, just as it was domestically, utter disaster. America, trying to lead from the rear, has, in every case, wandered about, not even being able to follow very well.
Long ago I realized that, in order to be a successful politician or military leader, one had to be a sociopath. By that I mean you have to make decisions and take actions that you know are going to hurt, kill, abuse, and/or disenfranchise many, many people based only on your personal belief that your decision is the best option available at the time.
Often that looks like a disregard for the millions that may be ill effected and often it looks like you’ve no regard for their opinion or well being. Often it seems callous. In virtually all cases it runs counter to someone highly respected’s advice.
Sometimes the decisions look better in hindsight than they did at the time. Sometimes the opposite. But it almost always takes a sociopath to be willing to make those kinds of decisions. Sometimes the decider looks like a Lincoln or an FDR, sometimes like a Cheney or Assad.
Both great statesmen and terrible despots share the trait. But none of them are looking for consensus or pay too much attention to advice.
But timidity is never characteristic of either. I think Obama has clearly established himself as a cypher. He’s not sociopathic enough to achieve much of anything, at least if you recognize that the title of “president” is, by itself, nothing significant.
What will probably come from all this is a future president who is totally unrestrained-an unmitigated sociopath. Whether he/she is a great statesperson, or a terrible despot will depend almost entirely upon whether the voting public is of sound judgment. It’s very scary times.