Obama’s Rookie Mistake

Note to President Obama: everyone will not like you, and the pursuit of popularity above all else– call it bi-partisanship if you want, but you’re not fooling this feminist– is a losing game. And when the nation’s very future rests in your administration’s hands, this particular fool’s errand is not funny.

You’d think someone who’s been a professor would understand the peculiar machinations of power dynamics. People like you when you give them what they want. But if you give them too much of what they want too quickly, and too freely, they have little respect for you, and managing them becomes unpleasant. Obama should have learned this lesson about likebility long ago; it’s management 101.

Rachel Maddow makes a similar point using an apt comparison between Obama’s behavior and that of women bemused by power dynamics in relationships, explaining that the Republicans Obama seeks to court are “just not that into him”:

In the name of his own likability, Obama is wasting billions of dollars, creating tax cuts with monies that could instead be used to fund infrastructure projects, in the name of courting Republican votes. We live in a crumbling superpower, a testament to the short-sighted stupidity of our previous Republican leaders. Yet Obama is willing to lend them a ready ear in fixing the very problem their ideology created in an absurd bid for a supermajority approval of his stimulus package.

And the Republicans are laughing at him. If zero Republican votes in the House for the stimulus package doesn’t teach Obama that the basic rules of power dynamics cannot be ignored, particularly in a context nakedly ruled by power grabs, then what will?

Who is going to pay the price for Obama’s newbie fumbles? Already, family planning for poor people has been tossed aside in the name of bi-partisanship. And imagine what these wasteful tax cuts might have done for people in need, and states like mine, ground zero for the housing crisis, paying bills with IOUs as the need for social services increases dramatically.




Filed under economy, financial crisis, Social Justice, work

2 responses to “Obama’s Rookie Mistake

  1. jke4

    Thanks for putting my own frustration into words. It has been horrifying this last week watching Obama squander his political capital on Republicans have no interest in being “friends”. Having my country be hostage to someone who wants to be everyone’s friend is not really shaping up to be any better than having it be hostage to someone who wants to get his friends rich.

  2. htg03

    Yes, and I’ve been finding this week all the more upsetting because this is exactly what I was afraid of when Obama became the democratic nominee. That when he had to dig deep and take an unpopular position, he wouldn’t want to or be able to do that, because so much of his power is his likeability, and because he’s so widely liked, that he has no earthly idea how to deal with people who hate him, like the Republicans in Congress.

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