Saturday, November 15, 2014

Will pundits finally acknowledge President Obama's intelligence?

Over the last six years what I've noticed is that when President Obama succeeds, pundits have tended to call him "lucky" and when he fails, they call him "naive." I've found both labels to not only be wrong, but offensive - based on how intelligent this President happens to be.

As a result, I've looked a little deeper into what his strategies might be. We all know that as a lawyer in Chicago, Barack Obama taught classes on power and conflict. From a pragmatic point of view, he's obviously thought more deeply about those topics than your average political pundit. So whether he succeeds or fails in his exploration of "the viability of politics to make change" (how Michelle Obama described his foray into politics), I've found it fascinating to assume his intelligence and try to understand what he's up to.

This column from Paul Waldman is one of the first I've seen in a very long time that goes a little bit deeper to assume President Obama knows what he's doing. In it, Waldman is exploring the possibility that Republicans will actually try to impeach the President over his upcoming executive action on immigration - even though their leadership knows it will come back to haunt them.
They [Republican leadership] really would be super-mad, not least because it would highlight their own impotence. In that state, they might well do something rash...And they'll be getting plenty of encouragement from the conservative media, for whom impeachment would be a ratings bonanza.

Barack Obama knows all this, of course. He obviously feels that the particular immigration steps he's contemplating are the right thing to do, and he understands that Republicans are never, ever going to pass a comprehensive reform bill that would be remotely acceptable to him. But he also knows that taking executive action will drive them batty, making some kind of emotional outburst on their part more likely. Which would end up being good for him and bad for them.
Whether you agree with Waldman's predictions or not, at least he is giving President Obama credit for knowing what he's doing. In other words, regardless of the outcome, Waldman is acknowledging that this President is neither lucky nor naive...just intelligent enough to have a strategy.    


  1. the lesser never acknowledges the greater. thus we define ourselves, and thus fee lesser stays lesser.

  2. The Rs would have found something, anything to use as their trigger for impeachment. They're going to do it, no matter what the President does. He knows that, so why should he let it influence anything he does. And yes, it will be a sideshow, but I'm unconvinced the average person will have much appetite for it. The media climate now compared to what existed when they tried to impeach Clinton is far too different. People have way too many choices of what to view, and are far busier in their lives. It will be a sideshow that's relegated to the bleachers, no matter how hard the media tries to make it otherwise. Think missing planes and CNN. Political junkies like us will obsess about it, but the average person will not. I don't agree with your author that the GOP will suffer for it. They have managed to find a way to not suffer any consequences for anything they've done for the last 6 years.

  3. I don't think pundits will every acknowledge his intelligence because 1) they are only fit to be sycophants and 2) most of them are not emotionally or intellectually intelligent, well read, or curious (see Exhibit A, Todd, Chuck).

    1. I agree they won't ever acknowledge PBO's intelligence. In addition to the reasons you gave, I do believe a lot of them are unable to wrap their heads around the fact that (given who he is) *his* intelligence is superior to theirs!

  4. When the screenplay of Terms of Endearment was being shopped around to try to get financing, everyone was turning it down. One production executive told the writer/director (James L. Brooks) that he loved the writing, but didn't want to back the film because it wasn't like other movies... to which Brooks responded, "You mean we're in danger of doing something original?"

    Barack Obama is the most original president we've ever had... and not just because of his skin pigmentation. His intelligence and humanity is one of a kind.

  5. "The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgment — social, political, or ethical — can raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him."
    -- John Steinbeck

  6. Go Mr. President. Poke them in the eye...go long on Immigration and force the GOP to show their azzes.


The root of the problem is a theology that enables sexual abuse

As someone who was raised in a white evangelical Christian family and church, it deeply saddens me every time we hear that another leader o...