November 30, 2013

WHY WOULD OBAMA SAY HE’S NOT IDEOLOGICAL?

The president’s belief that little of what he does is ideologically driven suggests he is living with a pampered, unchallenged mind. He has been told he is so smart for so long that he sees only clarity in his actions and unchallengeable reason in his conclusions. The president’s belief in his own intellect makes him think that whatever he does is simply the only thing a thinking person would do. Nothing ideological about that. And as president, he is constantly flattered, and his confidence that his analysis and conclusions are superior to others is readily reinforced. Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett tells us that Obama has been “bored to death his whole life.” Perhaps she is onto something. I guess there is something ho-hum and tiresome about being right all the time.

It appears that President Obama believes that dissenting views are irrational or the result of clouded, lesser thinking. Being blind to his own ideology makes him unable to respectfully deal with others who might readily embrace an ideological point of view. The president’s inability to effectively work with Congress, orchestrate Washington, or build strong alliances or even friendships overseas probably stems from his belief that others should defer to his clear thinking without many questions or objections. He doesn’t see politics as a great debate with multiple possibilities among equal voices.

After about five years as president, it is unlikely he will change his modus operandi. In fact, given all we have observed about Obama, it is safe to say that he cannot adapt and will never be able to produce win-win outcomes among competing interests and ideologies. For anything to get done, others must manage around him.

I suspect we’ll see more of that “managing around” over the next three years.

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