The Maturing Presidency of Barack Obama

The awesome responsibilities of the presidency has the potential to bring out the best in a person. How might Barack Obama, currently the frontrunner, react to a defining challenge in office?

Many a progressive pundit, stunned and mystified by the re-election of George W. Bush, opted to concede on the self-reassuring premise that Bush's mysterious appeal had nothing to do with the fledgling charisma of the untried president many knew prior to the cowardly attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001. Some believe that it wasn't until after we were attacked that President Bush came into his own; in other words, he grew up.

Bush stepped onto his first term a young, ambitious, conservative ex-governor with somewhat limited experience in world affairs and a solid religious foundation. After the terrorist attacks many sensed that a dramatic transformation seemed to have taken place in Mr. Bush's personality.

Up ‘til then he was derided by most of his enemies as the son of privilege who fortuitously graduated to the role of the accidental, slumbering president. This is partly the way many view Barack Obama at this juncture. There is also a similar expectation that the realities of presidential life will perhaps force the young Senator's hidden strengths to eventually break through the demiurgic facade the media has so eagerly helped to create.

But in effect what happened in George W. Bush is that the true mettle of his frame simply stood out against the placid relief of a country in slumber, unprepared to relinquish much of its previous naiveté concerning the immediate threat of global terrorism. It was not a new, grown up man that emerged, but a sobered man rising to the occasion and fully owning the responsibilities of his role in a moment of supreme crisis. There suddenly emerged a stalwart resolve to swiftly right the wrongs -- past and present -- that this country had for too long neglected to address. It was in many ways quite admirable despite the fact that many viewed this determination as one driven by zealotry not unlike that of our enemies, and thus unbecoming of the office.

Many ambivalent voters dither on the brink of accepting that perhaps when and if Obama does take the reins, the trials and tribulations of our times will likewise remold him into a more mature, strong and determined commander in chief. Would that they were right in that hope, since the world that the next president will inherit is one that, for better or for worse, is not suffering from a lack of unprecedented perils in waiting. In which case the more pressing question would be: what is the kind of a man that will emerge when Obama is tested and is finally forced to grow up?

In Bush's case, it was deeply held conservative values that rose to the top as he became a man furious at the evil that had been perpetrated against this country's innocent. Values that set the course for elevating the importance of endurance in the face of opposition both at home and abroad, guaranteeing the security and defending the most fundamental freedoms of this nation, and stressing the vital necessity of confronting evil in an aggressive, uncompromising fashion.

That defining challenges will arise is a given. The question is will Obama's character similarly blossom when again we are a nation at a crossroads, or  will he become paralyzed by the sterile complacency emblematic of his Democrat predecessors, being ever so gently prodded by a body politic less contrarian than the one in Congress during Bush's tenure?

An even bigger question is will Obama default to his core liberal principles when he responds to these challenges, cardinal among which is the -- no doubt charitable yet terribly naïve -- conviction that extols the congenital benevolence and good will of all humanity, and its corollary, which relies on the dangerously flawed notion that civilized dialogue is a uniquely effective tool of persuasion when dealing with even the most implacable of tyrants. Will he also instinctively cling to the cherished liberal tradition of blaming this country for all the world's ills, a chief sentiment of the contingency responsible for affording him the notoriety he presently enjoys?

If that is the case -- and there is no reason to believe otherwise -- then we can expect that when the inevitable happens, Obama will be a man possessed by the already cemented conviction that perhaps we have not done enough to please our enemies that hate us so much.  He will very likely engage in the same kind of self flagellation and tiresome soul searching most progressives became consumed with shortly after we were cowardly attacked. He will try to reach out and commiserate with foreign despots in their belief that we only have ourselves to blame for the alleged widespread global revulsion against this country, and he will scour the earth for ways to compromise and yield to those who have hated us since time immemorial for no good reason.

If indeed this qualifies as "change", perhaps it is not the kind of change this country may too long endure.
The awesome responsibilities of the presidency has the potential to bring out the best in a person. How might Barack Obama, currently the frontrunner, react to a defining challenge in office?

Many a progressive pundit, stunned and mystified by the re-election of George W. Bush, opted to concede on the self-reassuring premise that Bush's mysterious appeal had nothing to do with the fledgling charisma of the untried president many knew prior to the cowardly attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001. Some believe that it wasn't until after we were attacked that President Bush came into his own; in other words, he grew up.

Bush stepped onto his first term a young, ambitious, conservative ex-governor with somewhat limited experience in world affairs and a solid religious foundation. After the terrorist attacks many sensed that a dramatic transformation seemed to have taken place in Mr. Bush's personality.

Up ‘til then he was derided by most of his enemies as the son of privilege who fortuitously graduated to the role of the accidental, slumbering president. This is partly the way many view Barack Obama at this juncture. There is also a similar expectation that the realities of presidential life will perhaps force the young Senator's hidden strengths to eventually break through the demiurgic facade the media has so eagerly helped to create.

But in effect what happened in George W. Bush is that the true mettle of his frame simply stood out against the placid relief of a country in slumber, unprepared to relinquish much of its previous naiveté concerning the immediate threat of global terrorism. It was not a new, grown up man that emerged, but a sobered man rising to the occasion and fully owning the responsibilities of his role in a moment of supreme crisis. There suddenly emerged a stalwart resolve to swiftly right the wrongs -- past and present -- that this country had for too long neglected to address. It was in many ways quite admirable despite the fact that many viewed this determination as one driven by zealotry not unlike that of our enemies, and thus unbecoming of the office.

Many ambivalent voters dither on the brink of accepting that perhaps when and if Obama does take the reins, the trials and tribulations of our times will likewise remold him into a more mature, strong and determined commander in chief. Would that they were right in that hope, since the world that the next president will inherit is one that, for better or for worse, is not suffering from a lack of unprecedented perils in waiting. In which case the more pressing question would be: what is the kind of a man that will emerge when Obama is tested and is finally forced to grow up?

In Bush's case, it was deeply held conservative values that rose to the top as he became a man furious at the evil that had been perpetrated against this country's innocent. Values that set the course for elevating the importance of endurance in the face of opposition both at home and abroad, guaranteeing the security and defending the most fundamental freedoms of this nation, and stressing the vital necessity of confronting evil in an aggressive, uncompromising fashion.

That defining challenges will arise is a given. The question is will Obama's character similarly blossom when again we are a nation at a crossroads, or  will he become paralyzed by the sterile complacency emblematic of his Democrat predecessors, being ever so gently prodded by a body politic less contrarian than the one in Congress during Bush's tenure?

An even bigger question is will Obama default to his core liberal principles when he responds to these challenges, cardinal among which is the -- no doubt charitable yet terribly naïve -- conviction that extols the congenital benevolence and good will of all humanity, and its corollary, which relies on the dangerously flawed notion that civilized dialogue is a uniquely effective tool of persuasion when dealing with even the most implacable of tyrants. Will he also instinctively cling to the cherished liberal tradition of blaming this country for all the world's ills, a chief sentiment of the contingency responsible for affording him the notoriety he presently enjoys?

If that is the case -- and there is no reason to believe otherwise -- then we can expect that when the inevitable happens, Obama will be a man possessed by the already cemented conviction that perhaps we have not done enough to please our enemies that hate us so much.  He will very likely engage in the same kind of self flagellation and tiresome soul searching most progressives became consumed with shortly after we were cowardly attacked. He will try to reach out and commiserate with foreign despots in their belief that we only have ourselves to blame for the alleged widespread global revulsion against this country, and he will scour the earth for ways to compromise and yield to those who have hated us since time immemorial for no good reason.

If indeed this qualifies as "change", perhaps it is not the kind of change this country may too long endure.