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Wondering About Obama's Core

Commentators -- with pieces ranging from concerned to scathing -- seem to be scratching their heads lately about President Obama's character. Today brings four examples. George Will's op-ed, "An Olympic Ego Trip," raises questions about Obama's dash to Copenhagen and the "narcissism" he thinks it represents. Richard Cohen, questioning the president's Afghanistan war planning, asks, "Does Obama Have the Backbone?" Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Bob Herbert asks, "Does Obama Get It?" about the continuing suffering of America's jobless. And Politico's Roger Simon calls for "Barack the Bold." All four are asking the same question about Obama: who is this guy?

As I wrote yesterday, because Obama has yet to make significant movement on signature issues or achieve a definitive policy success, people are anxious and impatient. A lethal combination in a political context. And I am well aware that there are no quick solutions or easy answers to quiet the critics and hand-wringers. But when questions about where Obama is on policy become questions about who he is at his core, negative impressions could harden, hurting his ability to actually get something done and quiet the criticism.

By Jonathan Capehart  | October 6, 2009; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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If I remember correctly some of these same people complained that "Pres. Obama being on ALL of the Sunday shows and on Letterman is over exposure yada yada yada...". Of course you didn't hear from these people when the polls showed that the American people overwhelmingly wanted to see him and/or wanted to see more of him.

These media types are only expressing their own narrow minded thoughts. They have no clue what the public wants/thinks/etc.

Posted by: rlj1 | October 6, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you ask Bill Hamilton who Obama is? Why don't you ask your editors why they didn't vet him? Hamilton has given his answer to your former ombudsman - "We had a larger purpose" - perhaps ranking right up there with the most disrgraceful, disgusting admissions by the Fourth Estate in history, topping the NYT Jason Blair scandal, the CBS Dan Rather scandal and others.

Posted by: chatard | October 6, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Bob Herbert knew going into this that Obama is a “community organizer.” “Community organizers” consume resources that are produced by others and either donated to or extorted by that organization. They produce nothing. Obama has no accomplishments. He gives speeches. He has no experience doing anything else. He has never been an employer. His friends and associates are marxists. How in the world could he be expected to take over from the free market and manage a mature economy as large and complex as ours? What’s that you say Mr. Herbert?

Posted by: LaLydia | October 6, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Fast becomming Barak the Banal.

Posted by: wdh7 | October 6, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that most of the handwringing and criticism from the media is because the pundits are impatient for a new story.
They don't have the town hall circus to cover and the usual created controversies are not scoring.
What to do to avoid discussing policy and issues???
Go for another easy fake controversy! Let's do Obama is not doing enough, fast enough and it will balance the Obama is trying to do too much and too fast stories of a few weeks ago. Brilliant!
So, what is the next created controversy you guys will come up with to blame Obama for?

Posted by: vwcat | October 6, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Gertrude Stein once said about Baltimore,"There is no 'there' there." You could say the same about the content of Obama's character.

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 6, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Yep. I wonder if they are figuring this out at the White House right now? The bottom line is that whatever Obama does needs to work. Half measures, like he took with the stimulus package (which all agree NOW wasn't big enough), aren't going to cut it. If people don't see positive change they will lose faith in Obama. If this health plan passes and puts a heavy burden on the average person that will be the final straw. Couple that with a quagmire war in Afghanistan with no positive end in sight and we are in a helluva mess and Obama is on the way out. Can you say President Palin? Okay, maybe the public wouldn't completely lose its mind, but Obama needs to get his act together pronto. Analysis of what will WORK for the average person, not political calculus, is what he needs to pay attention to and act upon.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | October 7, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Well, let's see. Nine months into Bush's presidency, his administration managed the folks who didn't connect the dots, resulting in the deaths of thousands of US citizens. And Americans were stupid enough to elect him a second time.

Let's have this conversation in two years.

Posted by: RobertaHigginbotham | October 7, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

I agree with RobertaHigginbotham on this. Obama came in with sky high expectations, and it's not yet clear if he will meet them. A number of his initiatives are unfinished, and we'll have to see where he is two years from now.

Contrast that with Junior who came into office to rock bottom expectations, and underperformed even those! Dick Cheney, who was responsible for the counter terrorism task force, hadn't held a single meeting of the principals, and National Security Advisor Condi Rice was still trying to find the little girls room in the White House, while Junior had spent the summer in Crawford pretending to clear brush for the cameras.

Posted by: sambam | October 7, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting how quickly supporters of BHO deflect criticism of the POTUS by attacking George Bush and/or his administration or by throwing down the race card. How about dealing with the issues at hand rather than deflecting? Why, despite the abundance of media coverage and talk show appearances, do people still wonder who BHO really is and what drives him? I think its because he talks in big, sweeping rhetorical themes, but he rarely takes a firm stand on anything. He's a 'big-picture' guy, and big-picture guys can be irritating to the worker bees that actually make things happen. He has no underlying philosophy other than 'pragmastism' which basically means he does whatever he thinks will work at any given moment. His actions are not predictable which makes many people uncomfortable. He has a detached, consultant-like approach to problem solving that makes him appear weak or that he has no direction to give. BHO also says and does things that exhibit narcissism, but not necessarily confidence. Perhaps defined as "cocky". For many of us, its not an attractive combination of traits. Whether one agreed or disagreed with GWB, everyone knew where he stood on nearly any current issue, and could predict what his stance would be on any new issue. One can not say that of the current POTUS.

Posted by: gardedgarton | October 7, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

gardedgarton writes:
"Whether one agreed or disagreed with GWB, everyone knew where he stood on nearly any current issue, and could predict what his stance would be on any new issue."

And that's supposed to be a good thing?

Being led by someone who has ideological blinders on and who stubbornly sticks to his preconceived notions regardless of the facts that change around him is desirable? Only in wingnut America.

Posted by: sambam | October 7, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I would be extremely upset if President Obama did not "dig deep" and call on that concern for ordinary Americans like those he helped organize in Atgeld Gardens on the far Southside of Chicago. Todate, I think he has been trying to stabilize numerous situations left from the previous administration. That's not to say he has unlimited time before all those hot button issues began to bear his name. But to suggest that he has no deep-seated values at this early stage of his tenure is rushing things. However, if he does not state where he stands on Healthcare/Insurance reform soon, I will be hard press to give him the benefit of the doubt. The same goes for Banking reform, Gitmo (though Congress is the culprit in not appropriating funds to close it), and the snail pace his administration has exhibited in doling out the stimulus funds. Most critical, it that it is apparent for the need to create some jobs or put some dollars directly into American's hands to help speed up spending to prime the hiring pump of US companies. As a "America First" advocate, I firmly believe the POTUS ought to insist that Congress get busy with making all the right moves to get Americans trained and producing those "Green" jobs that are being ignored for the sake of free trade.
I am fed up with the POTUS talking about free and open markets when nearly 10 million Americans (that we know of) are out of work. We don't owe it to other countries to subsidize their economies at the expense of ours. This line of thinking is a deal-breaker for me regarding the 2010 and 2012 elections. By the way,I am a Registered Independent. If that matters to anyone. Get with the program Mr. President. We hired you for change for the betterment of average Americans; to change the business practices of the huge American Multi-national corporations. Not to bend over backwards to show them your soft underbelly. Stop the bleeding in main street America. Fellow Americans, if he doesn't have our best interest at heart, in 2010 it will be time to stop his train and hire a new engineer, and crew. I hope you are paying attention Congress.

Posted by: markman511 | October 8, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sambam | October 7, 2009 6:50 PM "Being led by someone who has ideological blinders on and who stubbornly sticks to his preconceived notions regardless of the facts that change around him is desirable? Only in wingnut America."

Sounds like Obama pushing Government Health Care in the face of BIPARTISAN opposition, regardless of CBO numbers, the Constitution, etc. Left-wing-nuts abound.

Posted by: pjarhead | October 8, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Who is he?

A corrupt Chicago pol who is good at reading a teleprompter.

Nothing else.

Posted by: tjhall1 | October 8, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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