Saturday, May 31, 2014
Obama – First Class Intellect. Second Class Temperament
A second class intellect. But a first class temperament !
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr (1845-1935), Of President Franklin Roosevelt, 1933
Of President Obama, it might be said, he has a first class intellect, honed at Harvard Law School and by his radical mentors, but a second class temperament, defined by his own self-assessment. Indeed, Valerie Jarrett, his ardent in-house admirer, says he easily bored. He seems to regard himself as the smartest man in the room, in the nation, and on the planet.
His words reflect his belief in his soaring intellect, transformative ideas, and soaring words. His actions bespeak his disdain for the mundane details of management and governance.
As Peggy Noonan wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal “ The VA Scandal is a Crisis in Leadership,” may 31 and June 1, 2014.
“Making sure things work is not his job. Words are his job…The talks about health care for three years, it debuts with a terrible rash, and he’s shocked. Why didn’t it work? He told it to!..The word is everything. The act, the deed, the follow-through, the making it happen deosen’t seem to loom large on his agenda of concerns…Managing isn’t interesting, like the art of talking.”
But his intellect doesn’t restrain his imagination of who is to blame when things go wrong. He imagines wrong-doing and policy-failures are someone’s else’s fault. As for himself, he is faultless to a fault. His faults do not to himself occur. Someone else down the intellectual food-chain is to blame. And often he attributes faults whenever they occur to imaginary straw men, to whom he attributes things they never said but he believes they feel deep in their unworthy souls.
In the foreign policy arena he says these straw men “want to invade every country that harbors terrorist networks,” or who :think military intervention is the way to avoid nuclear war, or who believe “ every problem has a military solution,” though his critics never said these things he imagined and which he cannot quote.
On the health care front, he claims these imaginary straw men believes that market solutions dictate the allegedly hostile and predatory actions of greedy actions of doctors, hospitals, businesses, and insurers, though these players simply assert free enterprise is more efficient than government; that the opposition party the medical establishment are conducting economic wars on women, minorities, and non-white races and depriving them of health care they desperately need.
Obama’s imagination resembles the wings of an ostrich. It enables him to run for cover and to escape from his critics, but it does not allow him to soar as a leader.
Which brings me to the dictionary definition of temperament, that unique constitution of an individual that permanently affects his manner of thinking, speaking, feeling, and acting . Temperament is that natural disposition, that unusual personal attitude as manifested by peculiarities of feeling, temper, and action.
Tweet: President Obama has a first class intellect and a second class temperament, a combination that may lead to a crisis in governing and leadership.