Tuesday, March 08, 2011

President Obama, the "Blank Screen"

He actually said that about himself in his 2nd book:

Obama Goes From Blank Slate to Empty Suit
In the prologue to the second of his autobiographies, "The Audacity of Hope," Barack Obama said: "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."

Stanford University professor Shelby Steele, who, like Mr. Obama, has a black father and a white mother, thinks the key to Mr. Obama's popularity in 2008 was his racial identity.

"Obama's special charisma ... always came much more from the racial idealism he embodied than from his political ideas," wrote Mr. Steele.


Being a "blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views" is a good way to be elected president ... especially when the incumbent is saddled with an unpopular war and the stock market melts down two months before the election. But after two years in office, that blank screen can look more like an empty suit.

"For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president," wrote Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus last week. She generally supports him but says "there are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action -- unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful. The dots connect to form an unsettling portrait of a 'Where's Waldo?' presidency." [...]

No surprise there. If you vote for a blank screen, no matter what you project onto it, sooner or later you will be faced with whatever was really there all along.

It fits in with this too:

"Obama’s deep thinking is ultimately bogus"
[...] Time and again, when the impressive thing would be to make a strong and timely decision — and to make a clear case for it — Obama hesitates, vacillates, equivocates, and ends up, as in the matter of gay marriage, making a muddle of things and riling up pretty much everybody; and instead of recognizing this habit as a weakness, Obama himself shows every sign of considering it a virtue, a mark of excellence, that distinguishes him from lesser — which is to say less cognitively inclined — beings.
Obama’s deep thinking is ultimately bogus. It’s as if he’s posing for Rodin, elbow on knee, chin on fist — all the while staring in a mirror, pleased by what he sees.

It seems to me that many people gravitated to, and chose Obama, for reasons more emotional than rational. Emotional ideas people projected onto him, rather than observing what was really there. Emotions can be deceptive though, especially if you use them as your only guide.

Emotions, no matter how sincerely felt, that are based on fantasy rather than fact, can get you into lots of trouble. That's why human beings have both emotions and a rational mind; we are meant to use them both. They balance each other. They should be used together.

No comments: