Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fourth Best President?: The Unbearable Heaviness of Obama’s Ego

By Barry Rubin

In his interview with “60 minutes,” President Barack Obama said he was the “fourth-best president.” This was cut from the program. Since it is such a compelling statement, I can only presume it was cut—like so many other great stories that have been self-censored by the media—to keep Obama from looking bad.

But those making fun of Obama for this statement have just skimmed the surface. Actually, there is a lot to be discovered from really examining what he said. And, before proceeding, I should note that my main professional training was in U.S. history—just to make clear that I’m treating this seriously and from a basis of study.

First, Obama showed how he takes the total support of the mass media for granted something inconceivable for any previous president. He begins:

"The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign-policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president….”

In other words, Obama is attributing the fact that he’s a great president to the interviewer, Steve Kroft. According to Obama, Kroft has already proclaimed him to be wonderful. Obama is just going along with what the media said.

It has often been remarked that Obama is a narcissist but what we see here is actually dangerous, a man who is so closed and arrogant that he really cannot take criticism into account.  Any leader, except a dictator (and as a result they make lots of mistakes) needs to listen to criticism and adjust policies, not necessarily change them entirely but alter them to deal with facts and opinions.

Note in Obama’s case how his new “jobs bill” is merely a repeat of the failed stimulus. And similar things can be said about his foreign policy. He simply does not take in developments and criticism. This is parallel to a ship’s captain being warned that there’s a big iceberg ahead and continuing with his speech about how he has set the perfect course.

This theme is reinforced by his saying, “The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments.” In other words, no one can even dispute that he has had great accomplishments. The science is settled; debate is closed. This also tells us that if Obama gets a second term he won’t do any better at all.

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