Friday, September 05, 2014

Shot Clock: The Thoughtful Man

I've been trying to puzzle out Obama's unpopularity in the face of an economy that continues to improve despite relentless Republican sabotage.  Some of the theories I've floated have been met with less than widespread acclaim.

Rick Perlstein, in his new book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, notes that Reagan, in his youth, developed a talent,  for turning any situation into an inspirational or heroic narrative with himself in the lead role.  Many a youth does something similar, but Reagan's genius was in his ability to project this heroic myth into the world, and sell it.  Very useful for a movie actor, an for a leader too.  His remarkable record at lifesaving, for example, reveals a number of beneficiaries who didn't think they really needed succor.

Reagan the politician had a glib and self-serving, if not necessarily responsive, answer for every question, usually cribbed from one of his campaign speeches.

Compare and contrast the clip of Obama in the following Jon Stewart bit.  Obama is in Estonia, supposedly rallying NATO to respond to Putin's invasion of Ukraine.  A gray and sickly looking Obama stumbles through a shapeless lecture to Putin on how to play by the rules, delivered at an excruciatingly slow pace that makes it seem as if every word is being dragged from him under torture.

Video


This sort of thing is leadership 001.  Obama is a lot smarter than Reagan ever was, but he has really shown a failure to master the elements of leadership.