Saturday, May 7, 2011

Obama Smart

Dana Milbank

Dana Milbank
Opinion Writer

Obama, lost in thought

When I covered George W. Bush’s White House, my job was made easier by the simplicity of the subject. The president had a few defining mantras — Cut taxes! Rally the base! Terrorists hate freedom! With us or against us! — and most of his decisions could be understood, even predicted, by applying one of the overarching philosophies.

With President Obama, there is no such luxury. The political right is befuddled as it tries to explain him: First, Obama was a tyrant and a socialist; now he’s a weakling who refuses to lead. The political left is almost as confused, demanding to know why Obama gave away so much on health care and in budget negotiations. Nearly everybody puzzles over Obama’s ad hoc responses to Egypt, Libya and now Syria, grasping for a still-elusive Obama Doctrine.

Seeking a template to understand the enigmatic president, I consulted three leading academics in the fields of psychology and behavior. With their help, I put Obama on the couch and came away with a reasonably coherent diagnosis: There’s too much going on in the poor guy’s head.

“What distinguishes Obama particularly is the depth and carefulness of his thinking, which renders him somewhat unfit for politics,” said Jonathan Haidt, a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia. “He is a brilliant social and political analyst, which makes it harder for him to play hardball or to bluff.”

Obama’s strengths and weaknesses come from his high degree of “integrative complexity” — his ability to keep multiple variables and trade-offs in mind simultaneously. 

The integratively simple thinker — say, George W. Bush has one universal organizing principle that dominates all others, while the integratively complex thinker — Obama — balances many competing goals.
Philip Tetlock, a professor of psychology with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, found that politicians on the center-left (where Obama dwells) tend to have the highest degree of integrative complexity, followed by politicians on the center-right. Politicians on the far left and far right are the most simple.

Kliphnote: Tell me again how Obama is the smartest president ever.
And I thought Bill Clinton was the smartest president ever.
And the smartest woman is Hillary Clinton.
That's what the left keeps saying.

And the simple thinker , George W. Bush,
and everyone on the right.

And Obama's 'depth and carefulness of his thinking.'
The "complex thinker".

"Among the complex thinker’s advantages, says Tetlock, is the ability to see quickly the trade-offs among policy options, to update his beliefs after finding...."

"The complex thinker can suffer from “analysis paralysis” and confusion.... "

He must still be thinking about the 129 votes for 'present' as a state senator?
And still thinking if he will back the protesters in Iran.
And still thinking what he will do in Libra next.
Still thinking when we will leave Afghanistan.
And still thinking how he will decrease(9%) unemployment.
And still thinking how to reduce the debt. 
Still thinking about Gitmo.
It took him 18 hours to decide what to do with OBL.
Lots of thinking to do.
It just my be too deep for him.
Maybe he should ask some simpleton on the right.

Perhaps he has “analysis paralysis”.

Also, I just find it ludicrous that the "Smart" people on the left
want to raise taxes on the rich.
But don't realize they, themselves, can send the government 
more of their own money.
Not too smart after all.

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