Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama, lost in thought

Pretty funny piece from Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. (Oh, what's that? It isn't a joke? But that would mean that he's serious, and that can't be, can it?)
When I covered George W. Bush’s White House, my job was made easier by the simplicity of the subject. The president had a few defining mantras — Cut taxes! Rally the base! Terrorists hate freedom! With us or against us! — and most of his decisions could be understood, even predicted, by applying one of the overarching philosophies.
Principled, simple, whatever...
With President Obama, there is no such luxury. The political right is befuddled as it tries to explain him: First, Obama was a tyrant and a socialist; now he’s a weakling who refuses to lead. The political left is almost as confused, demanding to know why Obama gave away so much on health care and in budget negotiations. Nearly everybody puzzles over Obama’s ad hoc responses to Egypt, Libya and now Syria, grasping for a still-elusive Obama Doctrine.
Yeah, I don't think the right is as befuddled as Dana is. Socialist? Check. Tyrant? Well, like all utopianist progressives, he's certainly inclined to be, but in an office that doesn't really allow it. Weakling? Pretty much. Refuses to lead? No, just pretty much not capable of it.
Seeking a template to understand the enigmatic president, I consulted three leading academics in the fields of psychology and behavior. With their help, I put Obama on the couch and came away with a reasonably coherent diagnosis: There’s too much going on in the poor guy’s head.
Too much in his head. Right. "Hmm...So if UConn beats Butler, then at least I beat Axelrod in the pool...What's my tee time today? I wonder what the closest PGA course is to that fund-raiser I'm attending tomorrow...Boy, I'd like to be able to go for a walk in the park without anyone knowing me... Why do those racists still want to see my birth certificate? ... Why don't those people complaining about gas prices just buy new electric cars? And yeah, I said that energy prices had to go up, and I blamed Bush for rising gas prices, but why are people blaming me? I didn't raise them... I wonder where I can vacation this month... Man, Bush left me a rotten situation...I hate this job..."

Yeah, I can imagine that there's a lot going on in his head.
“What distinguishes Obama particularly is the depth and carefulness of his thinking, which renders him somewhat unfit for politics,” said Jonathan Haidt, a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia. “He is a brilliant social and political analyst, which makes it harder for him to play hardball or to bluff.”

I'm sorry, the "brilliance" just so adamantly refuses to make itself know that it's hard to take this kind of hogwash seriously. There is, as near as I can tell, not a spec or shred of hard evidence that this President has anything other than a mediocre intellect, and is the ultimate product of the Affirmative Action program.

William of Ockham, a 14th century English monk, is credited with "Occam's razor," the theory that in any search for truth, you should tend to favor the simplest theory which adequately explains all of the available data. In the case of Obama, the simplest theory that adequately explains all of the available data is that he's a man of above average intelligence but no particular distinction of intellect, a leftist who bears racial grievances and was inculcated in radical politics but, with the active collaboration of a sympathetic media, didn't let them define him publicly, who benefited at school from affirmative action policies, and, on his climb through the political ranks, benefited from his race and the media bias while avoiding as many hard decisions as he could, a man who is utterly unsuited by temperament and intellect and experience for the office in which he now finds himself, and whose lack of experience shows itself constantly in his inability to manage the office successfully. Think of him as the ultimate expression of the Peter Principle.

The alternate theory, of course, is Milbank's - he's too smart for the job, and so every time he does something that seems stupid (porkulus, "just buy a new car," Eric Holder, obamacare, Janet Napolitano, cash-for-clunkers, Libya, Joe Biden, "bitter clingers," etc.), it's because he's so thoughtful that he's making a brilliant decision and the world gets it wrong.

You don't really need Occam's razor to make a choice there...

(H/T - Jennifer Rubin)

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