Skip to comments.Barack Obama, Bully
Posted on 10/07/2012 3:01:25 PM PDT by Kaslin
David Remnick's piece in The New Yorker, attempting to "understand" Obama's debate defeat, begins thusly:
When Barack Obama was a student at Harvard Law School, he was never known as a particularly good debater. In class, if he thought that a fellow student had said something foolish, he showed no forensic bloodlust. He did not go out of his way to defeat someone in argument; instead he tried, always with a certain decorous courtesy, to try to persuade, to reframe his interlocutor’s view, to signal his understanding while disagreeing. Obama became president of the law review—the first African-American to do so—but he won as a voice of conciliation. He avoided the Ames Moot Court Competition, where near contemporaries like Cass Sunstein, Deval Patrick, and Kathleen Sullivan made their names.
It is amusing to see Obama supporters try to spin these facts (all true except the part about Obama winning the Review presidency as a "voice of conciliation" -- he won boosted by conservatives, who saw him as the lesser of two evils, given the two finalists for the post) to justify the President's poor debate performance.
But as someone who knew Obama in law school, and now has observed his presidency, his avoidance of debate does seem to conform to a pattern. It has nothing to do with a gentlemanly or conciliatory reluctance to be aggressive. Rather, it has everything to do with a reluctance to be aggressive when his opponent ispresent -- where he can experience some push back from the person he's demonizing, and where his lack of preparation or knowledge can reveal him as foolish. (Hence, perhaps, the "decorous courtesy" in face to face encounters, where discourtesy might prompt a more vigorous blowback.)
Think about it. There's never seen such a trash-talking campaigner -- one who accuses his opponent of lying, who allows his campaign to call Romney a murderer and a felon, one who calls Americans with whom he disagrees "fat cats," or accuses doctors of performing unnecessary surgeries. He has no problem going after Romney the day after the debate, when he's no longer there face-to-face, and when Obama's trusty teleprompter is back. In fact, President Obama is one of the least gentlemanly and most uncivil men to occupy the Oval Office -- certainly publicly (Richard Nixon's private utterances put him in the running, too).
Notice that the only time Obama apparently shrinks from throwing a punch is when his opponent can punch back. That's not a guy who's just too "conciliatory" to get down and dirty -- that's a guy who's afraid to get down and dirty when it means he might have to suffer the consequences.
In my book, that's what's known as a "bully" -- full of big talk in the locker room (or on Letterman) . . . but considerably less cocky when he actually has to address his opponent face to face, unprotected by the friendly aid of the MSM.
I remember posting something like this during 2008. I don’t know how to search back that far otherwise I’d link to it.
Obama is not an alpha male. He’s not a leader. He’s not being courteous. In terms of fight or flight, he’s flight. No matter what happens, his reaction to confrontation during a debate is basically a lose-lose proposition for him. He’s not a natural fighter and like most people who aren’t natural fighters, fighting back will not go well for him initially.
When Romney goes on the attack, Obama will respond in one of two ways:
1 - Obama’s natural reaction to in-your-face aggression is to shrink. To be defensive. You can see it in his body language, his face, his tone...everything. He’s in a defensive posture.
He’s afraid. The deep instinct in him is to flee but he can’t flee. So he does the next best thing - he covers up. He looks away. Folds his arms. These are positions people get into when they are hiding weakness.
For those of you who are not comfortable standing up and presenting to groups, think about what you’d do with your hands. You’d stuff them in your pockets or fold them across your chest. That’s the body doing what instinct tells it to - cover up so as to minimize exposure to danger.
That’s basically what happend last week.
2 - If Obama forces himself past his instinctual reaction and fights back, I think he’s in even more trouble. How can he expect to fight against Mitt Romney’s debate points when he’s fighting against how own self?
If he does decide to fight back it will come off as childish with a dash of sarcastic When it comes to fighting, he’s not used to doing it so he doesn’t know how. Fighting back may be an instinct but doing it well is a learned skill. Plenty of guys have the fight instinct but have no idea how to actually fight. They learn it over time.
Time, Obama does not have.
Since he’ll be in an unnatural state (fighting back), his instincts will be at war with his reasoning. This, plus his inexperience with doing it, are a bad mix for him. It’ll change his voice, his inflection, cadence. It’ll mess with his ability to draw on facts quickly, forget about coming up with something new.
For debaters, a debate is a left brain activity. The left brain is used for things like logic and reasoning. As Obama be fighting this war with his own instinct, he’ll be completely in his right brain - emotion, feelings etc..I’d say it’s very unlikely that something good can come of this approach for Obama
Lastly, Obama has another enemy on the stage: Adrenaline.
He’s been on stage a thousand times so he’s used to that. He’s done his fair share (pun intended) of debating so he’s used to that too. What he hasn’t done is stand up to an aggressive enemy that’s right in his face. The first few times he tries this against Romney, he’ll get an adrenaline rush. When that happens, he’ll have all sorts of extra physical energy and no way to release it. It’s not the kind of energy that can be channeled into mental acuity. He’ll be fidgety, shifting his weight, and unable to really focus the way he wants to.
Now all of this will happen very quickly - but it’ll happen. He’ll lose his “soaring rhetorical” voice, the deep sonorous tone we all hate. He’ll “ummm” and “uhhh” even more than usual. He’ll fidget around with a pen or piece of paper. His tone will be wrong.
He’ll try to look Mitt in the eye and may even succeed for a few seconds but he’ll look away before Mitt does.
My summation and prediction is that Romney has figured out how to get to Obama. Obama has about a week and a half left to come up with some kind of response which doesn’t make him look weak and/or childish.
I don’t think he’s going to get there. This isn’t the Rocky movies where he’d learn all new skills over the course of a 5-minute montage.
Obama’s in a lot of trouble these next few debates. Presidential-bid-ending kinds of trouble.
Guy nailed it.
“No 0dumbo is the sleaziest most divisve POTUS we have ever had”
In the debates his lies were on display for everyone to see.
Romney did what some of us hope Newt would do. Take it to Obama in ways he has never had to face. He has no rational defense for the disaster which has been his leadership.
Great post. I can’t wait for the next debate.
Good post. Agreed...
This made me realize that Obumbler has NEVER been tested in a competitive Repub vs. Democrap debate because last time, we were stuck with Milquetoast McCain who is pathetically inarticulate and non-aggressive.
It’s taken this long for US society to realize that the Emperor has no clothes. Thanks to Romney, he owned and outclassed Obutthole the whole debate.
This week with Paul Ryan and Job Bleeding (er... I mean Joe Biden) will be fantastic.
We have 2 incredibly articulate Pres & VP candidates this time
The President has always been someone who takes the truth seriously and has a great faith in the American people and their ability to handle big ideas, Burns said. He doesnt patronize them
I’m never sure any more whether a writer or speaker actually believes what he says. When it’s a leftist speaking, I can’t tell whether he is just flat out lying (frequently) or whether he has actually drunk the Kool-Aid and believes what he is saying.
When it’s someone on the right, there are still some who are liars and some who are Kool-Aid drinkers. But I see another phenomenon as well. I think that some conservative writers soft-pedal their message, saying things like “The President is a likable man, but we disagree on some policy issues.”
The reason they do this is so as not to alienate Democrat voters who might consider switching.
It is like the old joke where a man knocks on an old woman’s door and tells her her husband is up on the roof. (He’s dead, but he doesn’t want to blurt that out and shock her.)
The Democrat Party is dead, but many do not know it. Sometimes it’s better to break it to them gently.
well, to be fair the democrats hated Dubya utterly and we also felt the same about Clintoon.
"You would think this is the time he'd really knuckle down and get to work "
Carol Platt Liebau was first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review;
It reminds me a little bit of my experience with him when he was president of the Harvard Law Review. You know, I hesitated to say a lot about this during the campaign because I really thought maybe it wasn't fair. That maybe, finally, when he got to be President, this would be a job big enough to engage and hold Barack Obama's sustained interest, because really, is there a bigger job out here?
[W]hen he was at the HLR you did get a very distinct sense that he was the kind of guy who much more interested in being the president of the Review, than he was in doing anything as president of the Review.
A lot of the time he quote/unquote "worked from home", which was sort of a shorthand - and people would say it sort of wryly - shorthand for not really doing much. He just wasn't around. Most of the day to day work was carried out by the managing editor of the Review, my predecessor, a great guy called Tom Pirelli whose actually going to be one of the assistant attorney generals now.
He's the one who did most of the day to day work. Barack Obama was nowhere to be seen. Occasionally he would drop in he would talk to people, and then he'd leave again as though his very arrival had been a benediction in and of itself, but not very much got done.
So, you know, you see that and you think, gosh, maybe that's the way the guy operates, but then you figure ok, obviously he always had his eye on bigger and better things.
But now he's President...there really isn't a bigger or better thing.
"much more interested in being the president of the Review, than he was in doing anything as president of the Review...."
"Occasionally he would drop in he would talk to people, and then he'd leave again as though his very arrival had been a benediction in and of itself, but not very much got done."
LOL. Insightful. Same ol' Barry, isn't it? Nothing has changed, and he still has that same sense of entitlement.
Thanks for ping.
Yup, still the same ol' Barry; but the head's at least doubled in size.
Carol Platt Liebau is one of the columnist of Townhall.com