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No, Mr. Obama, one does not lead by presence alone

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:18 pm - March 24, 2011.
Filed under: Obama Arrogance

Back when I was in high school, we knew of this psychiatrist who, at least by his own account, graduated in the top of his medical school class.  Parents would dispatch many a teenage boy, diagnosed with some of the difficulties of adolescence, to this dapper man.  And to most of them, he did a world of good by fulfilling one aspect of the Hippocratic oath; he did no harm.

But, that’s of course, because he did nothing, merely sat and listened — or so we heard tell.  But, if a boy had real problems, well, this man wasn’t very good because all he did was sit and listened, as if by his very presence, he could fix whatever ailed him.

Which brings me to the present.  And the president.

Almost from Day One of his tenure in the Oval Office, President Obama has stood back and let others set his Administration’s agenda.  Congressional Democrats wrote his much ballyhooed “stimulus.”  They would later, in back rooms on Capitol Hill, craft his health care overhaul.  He let France and the United Kingdom, through the ministrations of the United Nations, set his policy in Libya.  No wonder only 17% of Americans see Obama as a decisive war leader.

It seems he thinks he can lead by his presence alone.

And to be sure, in normal times, that might not be a bad thing.  In times of peace, a free society functions better with a leader who is little more than a functionary, refraining from meddling into our daily lives.  But, with crises around the world and a meddlesome government continuing to hold our economy in check, we need a leader who can do a little more than go around the world delivering speeches while letting others set national policy.

Currently, instead of the president setting the agenda, we have an Alice in Wonderful Libya policy, with the coalition continually quibbling even though the operation is still in its infancy.  What a difference eight years makes.

One hopes that young men with real problems were not directed to see that arrogant shrink of our high school lore, lest they deal with someone who believed he could cure just by being there.

For just like the president, this man assumed that being there was all it took.

NB:  Fixed a few typos and added a few words to improve the flow.



  1. Obama believes that his own person as a lovable (how did Joe Biden put it?) bi-racial guy is world-changing. He said something to that effect in 2008**, that it is in his DNA to heal and reconcile people. I wonder if Libyans think that?

    (**I think it was during his “race” speech in 2008, that Andrew Sullivan hailed as the greatest American speech since the Gettysburg Address or something, but that nobody can remember a word of.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 24, 2011 @ 5:34 pm - March 24, 2011

  2. Anyone remember Buck Henry’s character in “Defending Your Life?”

    He never said anything, but would nod when anyone mentioned how brilliant he was.

    Best wishes,

    Comment by MFS — March 24, 2011 @ 6:12 pm - March 24, 2011

  3. Actually, as David Brooks will tell you, it’s the awesome power of Obama’s perfect pants crease that makes him a very good president.

    Comment by V the K — March 24, 2011 @ 6:12 pm - March 24, 2011

  4. The desire for an autocrat is always strong in those that feel they know how to lead the others best. While not enthralled by the president i’m less willing to make assumptions about the inner workings of his administration than others. I realize that you view this through a fiercely partisan lens and I do not. However if you want to be happy in this life I would suggest that assuming the worst of people will typically make you sour, while assuming the best will at least give you hope.

    Comment by Tim — March 24, 2011 @ 7:18 pm - March 24, 2011

  5. Presence alone does not make a leader. President Obama is not a leader because he refuses to take any position at all; he wants to continue to be everything to everyone, a tabula rasa or blank slate. Any real good leader takes positions–many times unpopular–& leads.

    On the other hand, Obama wants to remain a cult of personality which, ironically, he will never be again thanks to the unpopular ObamaCare & Porkulus has defined him as a Leftist radical. Obama wants to continually be exalted as some kind of messiah to feed his ego. Nothing will ever be enough. Obama’s ego is insatiable.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 24, 2011 @ 7:18 pm - March 24, 2011

  6. if you want to be happy in this life I would suggest that assuming the worst of people will typically make you sour

    And so, from your pattern of consisting assuming the worst about conservatives in this forum and people on the right in general, may we make certain inferences?

    Comment by V the K — March 24, 2011 @ 7:31 pm - March 24, 2011

  7. @V the K only if I assumed the worst of all conservatives which I do not. However there is a difference in taking people at their word and assuming the worst of everyone. When people on this blog say that all gays should be denied basic civil rights, the right to adopt, the right to teach, the right to exist, than i take them at their word.
    I am here because i think discussing the differences in the conservative movement is important, not because I believe all conservatives are trouble.

    Comment by Tim — March 24, 2011 @ 7:52 pm - March 24, 2011

  8. David Brooks & Kathleen Parker are virtually the same person; Brooks just has more hair in strange places as opposed to Kathleen Parker. But I bet Parker can find she’s related to David Brooks then she, Brooks, & President Obama can live happily ever after.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 24, 2011 @ 8:48 pm - March 24, 2011

  9. Which person on this blog said a gay person shouldn’t exist?
    Everyday I try to figure out how BHO got the majority of the vote. And even today after 26 months in office I wonder how he has more than 25% approval. Why 25% approval, because I figure at least that many Americans owe their daily sustenance to the “govt”. Or taxpayers.
    How do you look at the daily entertainment of this administration and not be horribly embarassed? We use to get 6-10 libs in here defending Obama, now even most of them have crawled under the covers embarassed. It’s too bad our constitution doesn’t allow a do over….Gosh does Hillary look like the man in this administration. Obama is such a …….girl.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — March 24, 2011 @ 10:26 pm - March 24, 2011

  10. It’s occasions like this where one pines for a President who when asked of his policy the response would be; “…My policy? The policy of this Government is Mouammar Ghaddafi’s head pickled in a keg of salt. Good day, gentlemen.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — March 24, 2011 @ 10:45 pm - March 24, 2011

  11. Hey, the “girl” has been out there from day one fighting for this country and our freedom, all of our freedom.

    Comment by jann — March 25, 2011 @ 1:51 am - March 25, 2011

  12. I’m talking about Palin, not Urkel!

    Comment by jann — March 25, 2011 @ 1:52 am - March 25, 2011

  13. I would suggest that assuming the worst of people will typically make you sour, while assuming the best will at least give you hope.

    The best being……??? What liberals consider “the best” differs quite a bit from what anybody with an IQ higher than a turd fly would.

    When people on this blog say that all gays should be denied basic civil rights, the right to adopt, the right to teach, the right to exist, than i take them at their word.

    [Citation Demanded]

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 25, 2011 @ 8:23 am - March 25, 2011

  14. It’s ironic that for a man so obsessed with his own importance Obama cannot see that when he pauperizes, undercuts and weakens the nation, he’s pauperizing, under cutting and weakening his own global importance and influence. Many a vain man has ridden the presidency to prominence, but Obama decided to shoot his own horse and now he seems bewildered by the outcome.

    Comment by Stosh — March 25, 2011 @ 8:53 am - March 25, 2011

  15. Say, I’m only a paper moon
    Sailing over a cardboard sea
    But I wouldn’t be fake-deceive
    If you believed in me

    Yes, it’s only a canvas sky
    Hanging over a muslim tree
    But I wouldn’t be fake-deceive
    If you believed in me

    I’m a Barnum and Bailey churl
    Just as phony as I can be
    But I wouldn’t be fake-deceive
    If you believed in me

    (Apologies to Harold Arlen.)

    Comment by Heliotrope — March 25, 2011 @ 12:47 pm - March 25, 2011

  16. More disarray in the Obama White House. First, Obama’s people said he was not going to have an Oval Office speech about Lybia earlier in the week now says he will give an Oval Office speech Monday evening. Why? The Congress did not like Obama’s answer. I get the feeling his speech will not help matters given the mission statement remains unanswered.

    Obama is falling apart.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 25, 2011 @ 8:43 pm - March 25, 2011

  17. Obama should also learn that he cannot lead with presents alone either — as is clearly his strategy.

    Comment by American Elephant — March 25, 2011 @ 10:23 pm - March 25, 2011

  18. He didn’t want to give a speech because he doesn’t want people thinking he took us to war. It’s campaign season, you know. He’ll have to cough up billions more in high speed pork bribery money to make this go away.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 26, 2011 @ 12:20 am - March 26, 2011

  19. Here’s the link:

    Obama’s speech is not going to be in the Oval Office, but at some defense college. Obama saves the Oval Office speeches for power grabs such as ObamaCare. National Defense? Who cares.

    The man is a fool. His speech will not clarify matters at all; in fact, he’s going to dig his hole deeper.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 26, 2011 @ 9:10 am - March 26, 2011

  20. TGC @ #13: I thought I would help Tim out with his citation, even though it will have to be retroactive to your request.

    When people on this blog say that all gays should be denied basic civil rights, the right to adopt, the right to teach, the right to exist, than i take them at their word.

    1. Gays should be ashamed to claim they are denied their civil rights. (Tim
    reads: “Heliotrope said: ‘Gays should be (…..) denied their civil rights.'”)

    2. Gays who are convicted child abusers should be denied the right to adopt. (Tim reads: “Heliotrope said: ‘Gays should be (…..) denied their right to adopt.'”)

    3. Gays who have felony records or a record of child molestation should be denied the right to teach. Tim reads: “Heliotrope said: ‘Gays should be (…..) denied their right to teach.'”)

    4. Liberal parents who want to abort anything they don’t want in their designer child universe should be allowed to kill accidental and gay fetuses and deny them the right to exist. (Tim reads: “Heliotrope said: ‘….. Gays should be (…..) denied the right to live.'”)


    Comment by Heliotrope — March 26, 2011 @ 3:13 pm - March 26, 2011

  21. Do we want someone with the invidious political and economic beliefs like Obama to be a strong and successful leader? We should be grateful that those noxious beliefs are wedded to President Present rather than to an LBJ or Reagan, or FDR.

    Comment by eaglewingz08 — March 26, 2011 @ 4:42 pm - March 26, 2011

  22. Heliotrope, I thought it was just that you and I had a rent-free pied a terre in Tim’s head where we held a weekly book-burning, Bible reading, and forcible de-gaying of some poor teenager, all funded by the Koch brothers and with Karl Rove handling the guest list. 🙂

    Meanwhile, Obama made it clear throughout his campaign that his only qualifications were his black skin and funny name. The liberal leftist media said, and Obama repeated, that the oceans would fall, the planet would heal, and that peace would come upon all nations if we just voted on the basis of skin color like they do.

    Obama’s idea of military planning, like his ideas of just about anything, are to walk into a room, declare that he has black skin, spout something inane, and insist that if anyone disagrees with him, they’re a racist.

    And Chrissy Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, and the entire gay and lesbian community collectively orgasm due to his brilliance.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 26, 2011 @ 6:14 pm - March 26, 2011

  23. ND40, now that was a brilliant post!

    Comment by nobamanobamanobama — April 7, 2011 @ 11:53 pm - April 7, 2011

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