A Better Obama?

Posted on February 12, 2010 by


Here’s what I have in common with Barack Obama:

Just like the prez, I like to find common ground with conservatives and have them see me as a regular guy.

Hey, I’m no radical extremist.

You start talking to someone on a plane or at a party and sense they might be on the conservative side so you look for something to agree on.  Right?

Don’t you bend your values a little in their direction for the sake of good conversation and personal connection?

I do.

This president is making an earnest effort to connect with his rivals.  For the good of the nation, he says, the political parties must stop demonizing each other. When Obama was talking to the House Republicans two days after the state of the union he chided them for turning moderate proposals from his side into a “Bolshevik plot.”  He really said that…

Although Obama’s approach may slightly shift his opponents toward conciliation, I’m worried that in the world of power politics, our president’s need to present himself as a moderate and reasonable fellow does little to instill fear in his adversaries.

Why should Republicans change their behavior when there’s no evidence that they are paying any price for their intransigence?

At the same time, however, Obama is warning his adversaries not to try to snooker him.

Who's Snookering Who?

Who's Snookering Who?

So maybe this is a pretty shrewd strategy.  He either achieves some bipartisan success or he corners his foes for obstructionism.  Ds and Rs come together to solve national problems or the Republicans are trapped and exposed just in time for the 2010 election season.

Is this the emergence of the political genius of Barack Obama?  Or is this just a guy who wants to feel like he belongs and can talk to anybody?  Likely a little bit of both.

He’s charming, likable and persuasive and he’s using those attributes in very high-stakes circumstances.

I admit that I have a temperamental affinity for the President’s approach.  But I’m just a small-time operator.

He’s playing for all the marbles.

Comments (2)


  1. john says:

    He should play for all the marbles. That is what it is going to take to change this world. I feel he speaks from his heart.

  2. nickelD says:

    I think a lot of us have a temperamental affinity for Obama’s approach.
    But I absolutely do not believe the President just wants to feel like he belongs.
    He’s clearly one tough, extremely savvy, competitive cookie.
    And a swift, motivated learner, to boot.
    As you’re well aware, he and the best interests of the nation are under siege by a massively powerful lineup of groups who fear, on a survival level, that real solutions will cost them real power, privilege and wealth.
    Until these extra-special interests are able to see how their wealth, privilege and even survival are completely intertwined with the welfare of the entire population, (how they’re not, in fact, self-sustaining islands floating in a warm and caring outer space) they’ll continue creating confusion and fear with carefully trimmed truths, catchy exaggerations and look-’em-straight-in-the-eyes lies.
    Compounding the problem, of course, is a media that focuses mostly on the pettiest conflicts and juiciest scandals. With only the slightest effort to actually clarify complex political issues. Damn.
    Getting past devotees of the status quo, dealing with a butter knife media and crafting solutions to the country’s truly serious problems, is going to take every bit of Obama’s toughness and savvy.
    Plus a thick slice of that political genius.
    Some input and support from his roots might help too.
    Maybe that’s where we come in.

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