Obama, Trapped In Carter Country

Some thoughts from Ed Driscoll on parallels between the two presidents. I found this part interesting:

Obama doesn’t like people. He likes himself.

He appears to have a long-standing pattern of disconnection from others. Where are the voices of those who grew up with him, went to school with him, worked with him? It is eerily quiet.

Naturally, there are those who disagree with the notion that our president is aloof.

Despite the narrative in Washington of Mr. Obama as a loner, his friends and aides say he likes people just fine. He looked positively ebullient when he worked the crowd at a hangar last Wednesday at Fort Bragg, N.C., reaching out to nearly every one of 3,000 troops returning from Iraq.

No surprises there. Obama knows how to work a crowd. Apparently, he is downright ebullient when doing so. But that is not the same thing as liking other human beings and connecting with them. Working the crowd is about his ego. And a photo op.

Obama holds himself apart.

Something about him is off kilter.

And lots of people know it.

Republicans and Democrats, alike.

It reminds me of the classic line by Linus from Peanuts: “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.”

29 thoughts on “Obama, Trapped In Carter Country

  1. Larry J

    He is a mystery. Has anyone ever heard from any childhood friends, former girlfriends, roommates, classmates, professors? Anything at all? We were told how brilliant he is but his college records and papers are sealed. Who the hell is he, really? Does anyone know?

      1. George Turner

        Bob-1, that heavily reinforces the narrative. The author was Obama’s “close friend” and roommate for six years, yet he could barely fill a page with accounts of Obama, and most tellingly says:

        Since I last saw him in 1985, we have exchanged a few letters and photos. He left for Chicago, and I eventually settled in Sacramento.

        A few letters over 26 years? That’s a close relationship? I’ve had more contact over a similar timespan with a psychopath college roommate who tried to frame me for attempted rape and murder because I wouldn’t go into business with him.

        Obama certainly does not seem to be the sentimental type or form close personal bonds.

        1. Bob-1

          The NYT article also pointed out that he likes to stay home in the evenings and play board games with his kids.

          The same people complaining now used to complain about George W. Bush too — he was in bed by 9pm, a recluse at the ranch, and so forth.

          This is about Presidential access and favors. I don’t much care if any particular US President is out late schmoozing or home with his family, but I can’t see how enjoying time with one’s family is a negative. For that matter, recent criticism of Gingrich for spending time with his wife (watching her sing at church, etc) seems off-base too — good for him for making time for his family. If Romney ever wins the presidency, I imagine he’ll spend a lot of time with his family too, and we’ll hear the same silly complaints.

          1. Der Schtumpy

            Bob,
            given the age of his daughters, he’s been “playing board games” for 7 or 8 years. Where’s the rest of his life before the girls could play Chutes and Ladders?

            Personally I think he’s like a guy I used to work with who was also a hyper-lib.

            He had plenty of ‘friends’ too. They were ALL the people had saw at his (damned near) nightly liberal affiliates meetings. He was a member of every local liberal action group, call center group, protest org, etc. He was twice divorced and spent every other weekend with his daughters. The OTHER weekends he donated time to PETA, Green Peace, and Lord knows what else. But he ALWAYS talked about his ‘friends’ at PETA, his buddies at the County Democrat Headquarters, etc, etc, etc.

            He considered those people his friends.

            ALL his non-blood family relationships were ‘working’ relationships. As he moved through his life, he dropped people out as he moved to the newest liberal hot button group and met new ‘friends’. Look at Mr. Obama’s resume, it reads like my ex-work mate’s and I guarantee you BHO considers all the same type ‘working’ contacts as his friends.

            With the obvious exception of Bill Ayers whom he barely knew, of course.

          2. Leland

            The same people complaining now used to complain about George W. Bush too — he was in bed by 9pm, a recluse at the ranch, and so forth.

            I’ve never heard George W Bush described as a recluse. Why do I get the feeling that if I asked for evidence to support the silly assertion; I’d find people who think that if anyone willingly chooses to live in the interior of the US, they are by definition reclusive. My own search for evidence finds questions about W being reclusive now, which I love one answer: Because Bush has more class than Clinton and Carter.

    1. Jim

      Has anyone ever heard from any childhood friends, former girlfriends, roommates, classmates, professors? Anything at all?

      Yes.

      1. George Turner

        That reinforces the same point, which is that about eight people sort of remember him in a vague sort of way.

        1. Titus

          Speaking of which, Prof. Epstein once commented in passing (forgot where I saw it) of his former colleague that Obama was usually tight-lipped and contributed little to their political/economic discussions.

          IOW, voting “present.”

  2. Bob-1

    If you read the NYT article (link is in Driscoll’s piece), you’d come to a different conclusion than you would if you only read Driscoll. The point of the piece was that Obama favors real relationships with friends and family over transactional Washington politician relationships, and that this is thought by Washington insiders to be a) a disadvantage (which is true) and b) perhaps even disgraceful (hardly!)

    1. Karl Hallowell

      But that’s only if you take the NYT article at face value. The only thing Obama had to do for that bit of propaganda was make a phone call.

          1. Bob-1

            How to report instead of cherry pick excerpt from other people’s balanced articles to come to an inaccurate conclusion? Sure. Interview people who interact with the President. Look at MfK’s comment toward the bottom of this page for an example. Unless I missed some sarcasm, MfK is reporting that his friend in the White House didn’t find the President to be as Driscoll imagines. A reporter could talk to lots of people like MfK’s friend.

            Or they could move on to more useful topics, like Obama’s policies.

  3. Bilwick

    If you’re a statist, why would you be a people person? Other people exist. not as individuals, but as a means to your ends

  4. Paul Milenkovic

    “The point of the piece was that Obama favors real relationships with friends and family over transactional Washington politician relationships, and that this is thought by Washington insiders to be a) a disadvantage (which is true) and b) perhaps even disgraceful (hardly!)”

    I guess we know where you are “coming from.” Mr. Obama is the (fine) President of the United States. It is in his job description to have “transactional Wahington politician relationships”, maybe to invite Mr. Boehner over to have a few smokes outside of the White House in a cove where the First Lady can’t see, maybe for some one-on-one basketball that Scott Brown had been asking for for years now, then to drape a sweated arm across his shoulder, and ask him to “ask not, what you can do for Massachusetts but what Washington can do for you if you grant your president a little favor” and so on.

    I mean, didn’t you see that movie “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” where Alan Alda as a kind of Ur Liberal composite of maybe Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy chokes down tear-inducing food in a craw-fish eating contest with actor Rip Torn?

    I guess the Conservative/Liberal/Right Blogosphere that believes that “the government that governs least governs best” should be working for Mr. Obama’s reelection, but as an effective leader?

  5. Der Schtumpy

    Paul M,
    those of us who think the best government is one that governs least, hardly think having a single-payer legally enFORCED enema as being governed in the LEAST.

    He may NOT like playing the D.C. game, but he kinda needs to speak to his Secretaries and Ambassadors. That he doesn’t contact them sort of shows that he thinks HE is above it all. Great, and maybe he is.

    But he was elected to be the President, not God.

    1. Paul Milenkovic

      This is these “be careful what you wish for” matters.

      I think the record is that Mr. Obama is not an effective negotiator/leader of the legislative process, and Health Care Reform is probably more Pelosi Care than Obama Care.

      That said, however adverse the consequences of the Obama Presidency are viewed on the Right, think of the consequences if Mr. Obama really knew how to operate the levers of power and get things done?

  6. Thomas Matula

    [[[He appears to have a long-standing pattern of disconnection from others. Where are the voices of those who grew up with him, went to school with him, worked with him? It is eerily quiet.]]]

    More evidence he is an artificial entity created by the Illuminati to advance their agenda! :-)

  7. MfK

    A friend of mine works at the White House, and takes exception to this characterization. She told me the story of the POTUS “crashing” their Christmas party, and it is nothing like a person who cares nothing for people. We should be accurate…

    1. Jiminator

      What a great story! Obama actually left the golf course to go back to his office for the Christmas party

    2. Gregg

      Interesting but hardly conclusive. This person works for the White House…..no chance of bias there huh? And it’s one story…..no chance of a one off event there huh?

      A person’s personality is understood over time and actions. Some people are clearly sociable, people-friendly, gregarious. Some are clearly hermits and most of us are in between. From what little we have seen of Obama’s history, you don’t get an overall picture of warm fuzzies.

      If you believe in the NY Times, they report that Obama does create strong individual relationships with people:

      ““I just called Reggie,” Mr. Obama said. It was his first domestic trip without Reggie Love, the former Duke University basketball player who had been his constant companion and presidential “body man” until he left in November to study for his M.B.A. full time. “I miss him,” the president confessed. ”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/us/politics/obama-gains-reputation-as-distant-in-washington.html?_r=1

    3. Thomas Matula

      Its important to realize that no matter what President Obama does the anti-Obama blogsphere will spin it against him. If he’s on the golf course taking a break he’s “goofing off” from work. If he stays in the White House to work he being a recluse, “hiding from the public”. If he goes out to meet and greet the public then “he’s campaigning rather the working”. Its just a no win situation no matter what he does :-)

  8. Bob-1

    I just happened upon the following complaint about Reagan, from Christopher Hitchens:

    “Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump. He could have had anyone in the world to dinner, any night of the week, but took most of his meals on a White House TV tray. He had no friends, only cronies. His children didn’t like him all that much.”

    I recall that Reagan’s official biographer came to similar conclusions. Perhaps it is true, but I post this to suggest that every president since Johnson may have been described this way (except Clinton, and we know what happened there). It may be the nature of the modern presidency that the President ends up accused of being a loner.

    1. Bob-1

      Oh, and Leland, you doubted that anyone said it about Bush. Here’s one example:

      President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, INSIGHT magazine claims in a new report.

      The president’s reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

      “The atmosphere in the Oval Office has become unbearable,” a source said. “Even the family is split.”

      INSIGHT: Sources close to the White House say that Mr. Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key officials in the wake of plunging domestic support, the continued insurgency in Iraq and the CIA-leak investigation that has resulted in the indictment and resignation of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

      The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

      From: http://gorillaintheroom.blogspot.com/2005/11/recluse-bush.html which I found because it used the word “Recluse” in the title, but there were plenty of comments about his retreat to his ranch, etc. I think none of these psycho-analysis pieces amount to anything.

    2. Thomas Matula

      Yes, the burdens of leadership are heavy and difficult to share. You see similar stories written about the behavior of sea captains, generals, etc, who are in similar positions. Folks forget that the main reason Charles Darwin was on the Beagle was to give Capt. Fritzroy someone who was not part of the crew to talk to so he wouldn’t lapse into depression during the voyage. It was not that uncommon a practice in an age when sea captains were isolated for months from the chain of command.

      BTW I also recall reading similar assessments of Presidents Washington and Lincoln in their biographies. And if a president goes in the other direction, as Franklin Roosevelt did, you get charges that he is being guided by a “brain trust” with a hidden agenda, so its just a no win situation.

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