July 15, 2024

Inside The Mind Of Barack Obama

The Logic of Empathy

How Obama Is Like Spock

President Obama has seen the new Star Trek movie. “Everybody was saying I was Spock, so I figured I should check it out,” he told Newsweek.

Obama is often compared to Spock because he never gets too hot or too cool and speaks in the careful way of a logician. But the president and the fictional character seem to have the same kind of empathy, too.

For Obama, empathy has long been the key to delivering the change in the political structure that he talks so much about.  Here’s how he explained this approach as it applies to his decision-making: “[Opponents] might not, at the end of it, agree with me, but having seen how I’m thinking about a problem, having a sense of how I’m making decisions, that I understand their point of view, that I can actually make their argument for them, and that that’s part of the decision-making process, it gives them a sense, at least, that they’ve been heard, and … it pushes us away from the dogmas and caricatures that I think get in the way of good policymaking and a more civil tone in our politics.”

Great article with insights into the Presidential thought process as it relates to decision making.

Newsweek – A Conversation With Barack Obama

Inside the mind of Barack Obama – an in depth interview worth the full read.

Obama:  “One of the extraordinary privileges of not only being president but being president at a time of great difficulty is that your plate is full and the decisions we’re making and the policies we’re pursuing I absolutely know will make a difference.”

In Obama’s universe, strength and subtlety are not mutually exclusive. He may make the wrong call—things could go disastrously awry, at home or abroad, on his watch—but one of the most interesting and underappreciated things to emerge from these early days is how comfortable Obama is in making the call. He savors exercising the power of the presidency.

Obama, at least in my experience, is different. There may be some small talk, but very little; and there is none of the conventional journalistic flirtation-by-compliment. This is business, time is valuable, so let’s get on with it.

“But one of the things I’ve actually been encouraged by—and I learned during the campaign—was the American people, I think, not only have a toleration but also a hunger for explanation and complexity, and a willingness to acknowledge hard problems. I think one of the biggest mistakes that is made in Washington is this notion you have to dumb things down for the public. I’ve always been struck by the fact that, if you can get me in a room with a group of people, even who disagree with me violently on an issue, they’ll still take the time to listen.”

“What I’ve learned, I think, [is] that the Republican Party, like the Democratic Party after Ronald Reagan’s election, when it’s been in power for a long time, has trouble making an adjustment—not just to minority status but also to self-reflection. I think there’s a certain period of time where you insist on talking only to your base instead of to the American people more broadly. And I suspect that they’ll make an adjustment.”

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