Monday, November 17, 2014

Emo vs Geek

In response to a post which suggested that Republicans have difficulty with Obama because they are not intelligent enough to understand him, I posted:

There is some truth to this point of view, but it goes much deeper than a mere question of intelligence. Republicans are emotionalists, while Obama is a rationalist. Obama's biggest failure is that he does not communicate well. Ronald Reagan was often remarkably incompetent, but he communicated his incompetence at a very personal level. What he said in his speech may not have made any sense, but it made you feel good.

Obama knows the judgement of history will look upon him as one of our better presidents. That's good enough for him. But he could have been an even better, perhaps even a great president, if he had taken the time to make his case more clearly to the American people instead of simply letting the facts speak for themselves.

He did very much the same thing I did as a principal. That is to say, he has spent time doing a good job instead of spending it convincing everybody that he was doing a good job. Sadly, reality is clear on this point. The person doing a poor job, but who does a good job of convincing people he's doing well, will be rewarded. The person who is simply doing a good job, who is actually doing a good job, but who fails to clearly communicate that fact will be judged poorly in the present. His true value will largely be seen in retrospect.

What Obama has not done well is to reach the American people on an emotional level. He believes the fact that he's doing a very good job should stand on its own. And so it should. However, that is not true of most human interactions, certainly not in the area of politics.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Jeff responded: Well written. I've viewed Obama as a great speaker, but haven't thought about his 'communication' skills. There is a difference, I agree. I know as a teacher, reaching kids on an emotional level is essential. That's why celebrities (musicians, actors, and sport figures) are so revered. They meet us at our core as a human being. These people, that we don't even know personally, have connected with our emotions and we LOVE them for that fact. Great leaders throughout history have realized this and have made a personal attempt to connect with hearts and not just heads. I wonder if Obama realizes this or does he have another agenda???

  3. Good question! He is a brilliant individual and is, after all, trained as a lawyer. He may be laying groundwork for a structure we don't see yet. Those who know him say he plays a long term strategic game. Considering the successful post presidential lives of Carter and Clinton, he may see the presidency as the opening move of the game, rather than as his crowning achievement.