Monday, April 11, 2011

Obama Deconstructed

The following post was written by Kate Madison of Depoe Bay, Oregon, in response to Paul Krugman's column today questioning the whereabouts of President Obama.   

..."What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular? "
You have not really asked for a psychological "autopsy," but that is what I am inclined to give--rather than a "they did it" answer.

First of all, Barack Obama never knew his father--met him twice in his life. He was raised and influenced mainly by strong women, his mother and grandmother. Grandfather was a nice guy, seemed to finish last and had a hard time keeping a job-- not an inspiring male role model, to be sure. His mother was an effective mediator and organizer;  her life's mission was to bring understanding and economic power to 3rd world women. One can see how the torch was passed to his sister, Maya, who is doing the same kind of work in Hawaii.  Read her profile in last week's Nation magazine to see that the "apple does not fall far from the tree."

About Barack Obama--a more difficult situation, obviously. He was encouraged and educated in the best schools mother and grandparents could afford--and was so smart he got full scholarships. Still......there is the ghost of his father--a brilliant, aggressive, ambitious, but irresponsible drunk, who later died in a (probably alcohol related) car accident.

Barack, the son, has both his father, mother and grandmother in him--incompatible,  impossible ghosts, one might say. He is ambitious and a brilliant orator, but also (first and foremost), like his influential mother, comfortable only in his role as a mediator.  So....that is who we have for a President. A basically good man,  but so inclined to mediate and reconcile that he does not possess other options about how to function.  Yet he has tremendous ambition. You might say it is in his genes. Would that the world operated in a saner way.  We know it does not. I believe that is why Obama has hired such aggressive, psychopathic operatives to keep the path open. He cannot do it himself, but does not hesitate to find those who can do it for him.

Kate is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who had a private practice in  Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland from 1973 to 2004. She studied Family Systems theory with Murray Bowen at Georgetown University, and became interested in the inter-generational transmission process of emotional issues in families.  Though Kate is officially retired from full-time practice and currently living on the Oregon Coast, she remains active in the field, and is presently supervising therapists in the D.C. area in family systems thinking and application. She frequently contributes to the comments boards of op-ed pieces in The New York Times.


Anne Lavoie said...

Or maybe it's because he's a Leo!

Here's something I just picked up randomly from the web:

"At first, it’s hard not to like those with the Sun in Leo with their open hearted, friendly ways. They often enter a room as a radiant presence that causes everyone to take notice, and are skilled at “working” a crowd for best effect.

As a friend, they have a knack for mining a buried dream, polishing it to a shine again, and making anything seem possible. [Think campaign rhetoric]

Whether they end up in civil service [or Senator or President], chances are they’ll have an audience. When standing proudly before adoring fans, they’re casting out warmth that has a palpable power to win hearts and minds. [and votes!]

After getting to know a Leo, you might discover that they’re very loyal, but only to themselves. [Oh ya!] You can come up against severe resistance if trying to bend the will of a Leo for the sake of a relationship. [Take that, you sanctimonious purists!]

Their pride leads to the reputation of having a super-sized Ego, and being a difficult Diva type. But in the end, their stubborn self-regard elicits widespread respect, since so many of them grab the gusto and achieve their loftiest goals." [Presidency - but now what about US?]


Marvel said...

I like Gemli's response to Paul Krugman this morning:

"I keep giving Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he must have a plan so clever that the likes of me couldn't begin to understand the political calculus. But if he sees himself as the great conciliator, it's a perverse form of conciliation that loses ground on every negotiation while expecting to make gains in the end. You can't retreat your way to victory, but that seems to be the strategy he's banking on."

sharon BE said...

The concept of Leo-ness is fun, considering I'm a Leo, but at that point Obama and I part ways. I know myself better than he knows himself. I know I have no interest in running anything other than myself (I.E. I totally realize my limitations), and would consider those limitations before launching myself to the top step of an organization.

I knew this about Obama before many - now very disappointed - others did. The 129 'Presents' told me this is not the blueprint for an executive. And it wasn't. Sad thing is, Obama knows enough about himself to hire gunmen, but he doesn't yet realize that he runs the guns and should accept some responsibility for their actions and his. He doesn't and never will.
Kate Madison's comment should have been printed at the head of the Krugman comments section in 24 font. (and best sometime before November 2008.)

Phil in the mountains of Kyushu, Japan said...

Love seeing Kate's patience -- for her own sincerity in plumbing the humanity, the character, in someone so many of us used to believe in.

As Kate well knows, character, or humanity, always reverberates in many contexts. Good for Kate in stressing the continuing ring of family, while well aware, too, of the likelihood of many other contexts the rest of us may well note for their ever impinging on, shaping us, too.

jhand said...

Without going into elaborate, boring, and pedestrian detail, it wasn't until I accepted the faults and virtues of the family I was born into that I became comfortable in my own skin. That comfort has enabled me to do, as Theodore Roethke's wrote, "the right thing;" or better, the "right thing" has happened to me over and over the last few years. I have become successful in ways that are important to me. I applaud Kate Madison's analysis, and hope that Obama can experience the same kind of enlightenment that happened to me (and many many others). Most of all, I hope it happens very soon!

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

While I feel a bit sorry for Obama in the context of Kate's analysis, which I do not doubt is accurate, for me it doesn't excuse his lack of good character. It is not as if Obama didn't have strong role models in his life, people of good character with a strong sense of fairness and justice (admittedly women). I can think of one family with the exact same family dynamic and yet both boys grew to be wonderful men of integrity. President Obama made many promises in his campaign and took advantage of many idealistic people who believed and put their trust in him. They not only voted for Obama, they worked hard to get him elected. Once elected, Obama didn't hesitate to "kick" those loyal supporters "to the curb" as soon as it was convenient and made absolutely no effort to fight for their interests.

I remember, during the election, reading about Obama's tactics in the state senate race and thinking, "This guy is a fighter and the Democrats need a fighter." I thought he was going to fight the good fight. I had no idea he was going to be such a sell out.

I deeply resent that the only time Obama seemed to get a backbone was to dress down his base and I deeply resent that he and his handlers take my vote for granted. I honestly don’t know what I am going to do come November 2012. I really do not want to vote for such a self-serving, spineless man so lacking in good character.

Anne Lavoie said...

Ditto, Valerie.

Everyone has baggage, but he happened to get the advantage and privilege of having an elite education and all the valuable connections that come with that. Just the connections alone are worth their weight in gold.

By the way, since his transcripts are sealed or hidden, we don't know if it was academic excellence or rather affirmative action and legacy that got him into private/ivy league schools. I am sure he is bright, but I have a feeling his charm and charisma factored into his grades. I perceive him as being lazy at his job as President (contrast to Hillary for example), and suspect that is not a new habit. He'd rather simply bask in the glow of adoration.

The only self-imposed disadvantage he had was that he has always sought out positions where he either worked autonomously or was the boss, and that means he has avoided the real world dog-eat-dog experiences of being an underling, such as in a office setting, or being in the middle of a large family.

He also lacks patience in his ambitions, as if he doesn't want to have to pay his dues first like the rest of us. It reminds me of someone who cheats their way through school and then flounders on the job later.

But whatever. If he wants to win, he will have to do it without my help or vote. I will feel just about as much guilt not voting for him as he does dissing us - none!

I think his rich friends will take care of him just as he took care of them. He needs them more than he needs us, not just for his billion dollar re-election campaign but for his Presidential Library, and you can bet it will be the most expensive one ever. The man certainly is grand(iose).


Anonymous said...

My wife and I read "Dreams of My Father" as a bedtime storybook in the spring of 2008, and we got swept up by Obama and his story. And I was pretty certain I didn't want a 3rd Clinton administration, led this time by Hillary. But I remember being very uncomfortable with Obama's literary personality, which seemed to float through the book like a helium-filled balloon--passive, ineffectual, removed from events on the ground.

Al in State College

Kate Madison said...

Please let there be no mistake! I am as disenchanted by Obama as all of you--maybe more. I worked as an Obama organizer in Oregon in 2008 and even met "the Man" at a town hall.

I do not offer excuses for Obama doing what he does. There are no excuses. My point was to explain the family dynamics behind his overly mediating personality and, what I would call, co-dependence. He does not know how to make a stand for himself, and clearly is what I call an "as if" person, who really does not share our values.

I want to make what I think is an important point about the 2012 election, when we will all be required to make a choice between a deeply flawed Democratic president and some compromised Republican or other--with possibly a Tea Party VP candidate. (Forget a Third Party challenger getting the nomination--not gonna happen! Just two words: SUPREME COURT!