The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bed Wetters

There’s a significant difference between modest self-confidence and hubris. Those with modest self-confidence recognize their strengths—parleying them to craft a pragmatic agenda that they implement by achieving consensus among the players who must make the agenda happen. But they also recognize their weaknesses—be they ideological, experiential or intellectual—and bolster them with advisors who are not their ideological, experiential, and intellectual clones. Those with hubris think (incorrectly) that they are the center of the universe, that all people are awed by their (often weak) ideological, experiential, or intellectual powers, and they and they alone can implement their agenda through sheer force of will.

During the past week, we’ve observed Barack Obama suffer still another defeat at the hands of still another segment of the American public. Yet, he remains combative, suggesting the he’ll “fight” to pursue a political path that has become less than attractive to the majority of Americans.

His supporters suggest that he must become less cool and detached—transforming himself into a man of the people. His efforts of the past week to pivot and do just that now seem contrived.

Bret Stevens (no friend of the President) writes:
Mr. Obama's real problems are of a different stripe. It's not as if he lacks for charisma. It's that he believes too much in the power of charisma itself and specifically too much in his own.

He seems to have come to office believing that America's problems abroad could mainly be put down to the rough-edged persona of his predecessor. Change the president, change the tone, give magnificent speeches, tinker with the policy, and the world would revert to some default mode of liking America and wanting to work with it. It doesn't work that way. Nor does it work in domestic policy, where personal salesmanship has failed to overcome the defects of legislation. Americans still generally like Mr. Obama, or at least they'd like to like him. It's the $12 trillion deficit and Rube Goldberg health schemes that rub them wrong.

Today we hear that the President has brought back his campaign advisor, David Plouff, who suggests that Democrats avoid being “bed-wetters” and fight to maintain the Obama agenda. In essence, it appears that Obama has decided to conduct a perpetual campaign, rather than lead a nation that desparately needs intelligent, pragmatic leadership. In doing so, he exhibits hubris, not self-confidence. There is a difference.