Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Two Quick Insights into the President

I have read a bunch of reviews of the new tell-all book on the 2012 campaign, Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, and two things jump out at me. The first is the one everybody is citing:
One of the book’s best stories concerns a Sept. 30, 2011 meeting between the president and his political team, “the Obamans.” Obama takes 30 minutes to read through “nine or ten” yellow legal pad pages upon which he’s written a self-analysis. “Turns out I’m really good at killing people,” the president says, having just come from a fist-pumping interview about the drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. “Didn’t know that was going to be a strong suit of mine.” 
Obama's peculiar analytical coldness comes through very clearly here. "I didn't know I would find it so easy to order assassinations. Interesting." He might have made a good general in the Civil War, fully the equal of Grant or Lee in ordering his men to their deaths.

The other concerns something I wrote about at the time, Obama's performance in the second Presidential debate with Romney. After his disastrous first debate performance put Romney in the lead in some polls, Obama met with his team to plot strategy for a comeback. He said, “I am wired in a different way than this event requires. I just don’t know if I can do this.” But people who accept their limitations don't become President; that prize is reserved for people who fight and fight until they make themselves do whatever is necessary. Obama was a terrible debater when he started in the Democratic primaries, mediocre against McCain, and awful in the first meeting against Romney. But George Will said their second debate was "immeasurably" the best Presidential debate ever. Somehow Obama found a way to defeat his wiring and rise to the occasion. Only men who can overcome their weaknesses like that become president; only men with a calculating coldness not just toward their enemies, but toward themselves.

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