Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Temperament Revealed

George Will writes:

Barack Obama in August became a Huey for today, a rabble rouser with a better tailor, an unrumpled and modulated tribune of downtrodden Americans, telling them that opponents of his reform plan—which actually does not yet exist—are fearmongers employing scare tactics. He also told Americans to be afraid, very afraid of health-insurance providers because they are dishonest (and will remain so until there is a “public option” to make them “honest”). And to be afraid, very afraid of pediatricians who unnecessarily extract children’s tonsils for monetary rather than medical reasons. And to be afraid, very afraid of doctors generally because so many of them are so rapacious that they prefer lopping off limbs of diabetes patients rather than engaging in lifestyle counseling that for “a pittance” could prevent diabetes.

I wonder how the “temperament” cheerleaders feel now. That temperament, according to many pundits, was the primary justification for voting for the seriously under-qualified candidate. No, he didn’t have legislative accomplishments nor any executive experience. He had written memoirs, not policy books. But that was OK, we were assured. He had judgment and a superior temperament — calm under fire and the uncanny ability to remain above the fray. While John McCain suspended and unsuspended his campaign, Obama was serene during the financial meltdown.

Well now he’s “shrill,” as Will puts it, an angry and frantic figure full of accusation and fear-mongering. The candidate whose “judgment” was to make up for a deficit in experience has made a host of judgment errors — from deferring to Congress on legislative drafting, to believing that the recession changed Americans’ fundamental political aversion to big government, to sullying the White House with a lot of classless name-calling.

Among the many things the media cheerleaders got wrong (Obama’s political “moderation” is the other great canard), the fawning over Obama’s temperament turns out to be one of the most glaring. He is, with regard to his predecessor and political opponents, among the least gracious presidents in memory, rivaling perhaps only Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon in smallness of spirit. He hasn’t demonstrated any of the promised ability to rise above the fray.

In short, Obama has turned out to be, well, just not very presidential. Maybe next time the voters will see that temperament isn’t merely a campaign pose. It can only be revealed and developed over a lifetime of real-world experience. Unfortunately, now is no time for an on-the-job self-improvement class for the president.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.