Something my dad has always said of himself (and which I now believe to be true of myself) is that he’s better-suited to the role of consigliere, of senior advisor to the leader, than he is to the role of leader—which isn’t to say that he (or I?) doesn’t have leadership qualities, or that those responsibilities daunt him (me?), but alludes, rather, to a disdain for public scrutiny and an appreciation for the way that being looked at all the time, and questioned, is seldom conducive to actually implementing change.
I’m still reading Obama’s memoir but it seems like the former president is arguing this same perspective, between the lines.
As enchanted as I am to hear Obama illustrate the interconnectedness of all the issues on his plate (for instance: bailing out the auto industry hurts his polling numbers, but the bailout makes those car manufacturers more willing to comply with his clean-air regulations down the line, forcing them to achieve more miles per gallon before 2016 and thus helping Obama’s polling numbers on the environment; another example: if Nation (A) won’t negotiate with him on the subject of de-nuclearization, he has to buddy up with Nation (B), with whom (A) will grudgingly negotiate, although this means lifting American sanctions off of (B) despite their rampant criminality–a lifting of sanctions which might allow them to become a more formidable enemy in the future)—it’s all very grounding and demystifying, for a reader-citizen, to hear of the frequency with which the president’s progress on major issues is hampered by the optics.
When Obama bows before an elderly Japanese statesman in friendly greeting, the right-wing media calls it a “treasonous” gesture of subservience to a foreign power.
I don’t know how I’d get anything done if people were twisting my nipples like that.
Where the administration’s work seems to really get done is in the tucked-away offices of nerdy youngish people whom the president appoints to some or other task force.
Those kids (twentysomething type-A Ivy Leaguers still shaking the debt outta their hair) go off, they find the openings and means and maneuvers for change, and then they hand it off to the president, who goes and confronts the other world leaders in smoke filled rooms, followed by the cameras, the crowds…
Not for me, thanks.
Gimme a legal pad and a windowless office and lotsa coffee, thanks. I’ll do my work while listening to my music and then we can confer over beers or perhaps more coffee and I can say “fuck” as loudly and often as my Lord wills it.
Which is actually something I worry about with respect to my dating life, is that I think I come across on dates, over drinks, as fun and bubbly—and if ever by chance I should charm someone, and they wanna go out with me again, I start to wonder, What’s gonna happen when she realizes I’m not a bubbly fun guy, but a windowless office and legal pad guy?
Celibacy is what’ll happen.
Which probably isn’t conducive to any kinda work, right? The workers who get laid on a regular basis are probably the most productive. The least distracted.
I don’t know anything about football but I seem to remember something about a football coach who forbade his players from having sex before a game. When a reporter asked if he thought sex hurt a player’s performance the next day, he said, “It’s not sex that hurts their performance, it’s chasing sex until four in the morning.”
But yeah, the presidency: No thanks, is my point.