October 25, 2010


I suspect many Americans, and especially Southerners, resent him for this reason: If you survey the men we’ve elected to the presidency over the last 150 years, those elected to office tend to be people with either several years experience legislating in U.S. Congress, or major administrative experience as governor of a state. The only exceptions we’ve made are men with a record of supreme military leadership. . . .

In terms of these traditional qualifications for the presidency, when he was inaugurated last year, Obama was arguably the least experienced commander in chief since maybe Chester A. Arthur, who was never actually elected president. That fact has probably hurt him in practical ways. He hasn’t learned how to slap backs like Bill Clinton or LBJ, whose liberal changes were more sweeping than Obama’s. And few in Washington owe him any favors.

Obama was also the favored candidate of the Gentry Class. Southerners and the Gentry Class don’t get along well, since one of the key aspects of Gentry Class membership is looking down on Americans from Flyover Country in general, and the South in particular (especially if you come from the South yourself!). Bill Clinton — and especially LBJ, who wasn’t even an honorary member of the Gentry Class — could get around that on style. Obama can’t.

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