Is Obama a Victim of Self-Esteem Education?

I never understood Barack Obama -- or even some of my friends -- until I read The Amateur by Edward Klein (Regnery Publishing 2012 -- paperback June 13, 2013).

But first you also need to remember the plague of "self-esteem" based education. And finally it all makes sense. The self-esteem movement hurt our public schools and degraded the curriculum. The self-esteem time bomb is now coming full circle, as the victims of our schools, colleges, and universities have moved into leadership of our country.

Barack Obama is the ultimate "A for effort [D for performance] President." Obama's ineptness is exceeded only by his giant ego. Obama received a "to be determined" Nobel Peace Prize in the naked hope that he might do something later to promote peace. This is self-esteem taken to a ridiculous extreme -- but in real life. But wait: Isn't that exactly what the liberal educational approach teaches in our schools and even in our universities and law schools?

It doesn't matter if you get the wrong answer as long as you believe in yourself. It doesn't matter if you can actually achieve anything, as long as you try. Liberal educational techniques teach students that everyone is a winner, everyone's opinion is equally valid, and there should be no competition or grading on the basis of merit.

Sure, we all have limitations. There is nothing wrong with that. Henry Ford claimed that he wasn't all that smart, but he succeeded by hiring people smarter than he. Many highly-successful people have echoed Ford with similar quotes. But the difference is he could admit his own strengths and weaknesses and take action to compensate.

The most important sentence in The Amateur is: "He doesn't know what he doesn't know." I interviewed the author on the Conservative Commandos radio show, when the book came out in paperback.

Why does Barack Obama compare himself to Abraham Lincoln? Conservatives were appalled that Obama thinks so much of himself. But that's the wrong analysis. Obama doesn't know much about Abraham Lincoln. Not knowing history, he lacks the capacity to see that he isn't in Honest Abe's league.

Similarly, Obama has given two speeches at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, evoking the memory of John F. Kennedy. "How can he compare himself to JFK?" conservatives bristle. Because he doesn't know very much about JFK. He doesn't understand that special moment which JFK embodied that day in Berlin -- what it really meant -- or Ronald Reagan's pivotal moment at the Berlin Wall. So he doesn't realize that he can't just show up and give a random speech of equal historical importance to "Ich bin ein Berliner" with which JFK committed the full might of the United States to defend the freedom of West Berlin against Soviet expansion.

Why doesn't Obama get involved in shaping legislation important to his agenda as it develops in Congress? Because he doesn't know how. Obama avoids the hard work not only because he is lazy but also because he doesn't have the skills to tackle it. He instinctively avoids situations in which his weaknesses and ignorance would be exposed.

Where was President Obama when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was under attack? Well, where would you be if you knew you don't understand the U.S. military, foreign policy, U.S. military capabilities, response options, and how various countries might be involved in defending U.S. diplomats? Obama didn't want everyone to see in the Situation Room that he could not intelligently discuss the options or the problems.

Many of the actions and omissions of the Obama Administration leave political observers scratching their head. But they are assuming that Obama is making those decisions knowingly. What if, instead, Obama simply avoids situations where his knowledge and skills are lacking? He might not admit, even to himself, any weakness. But one subconsciously avoids those uncomfortable situations.

Back in the 1980's, Rush Limbaugh mocked the self-esteem movement by explaining how students were being asked how they feel about 2 +2. If they added 2 +2 and got 5, that's okay, as long as they feel good about their own individual answer.

Conservative superstar Phyllis Schafly explained in a November 4, 1990 New York Times editorial: "Earned self-esteem is important," said Phyllis Schlafly, president of the Eagle Forum, a politically conservative group based in Alton, Ill. But she added, "Instead of teaching them how to read, they're teaching kids to feel good about being illiterate."

The article further asserted:

But not everyone is applauding; even teachers and researchers who believe self-esteem is important are not always pleased with the way the concept is thrown about. Others say self-esteem workshops and exercises are more appropriate for the psychiatrist's couch than the teacher's blackboard.

The Phyllis Schafly Report further explained:

Elementary school children may no longer be taught to read and write, but they will almost surely be given one of the trendy new psychological courses in self-esteem. Self-esteem is supposed to be the magic bullet that will cure all school and social problems...

Under OBE, the student has no incentive to study, work hard, and pass a test, because he can always take it again later. Since the primary goal is to develop self-esteem and to be a part of the group, rather than to learn or to achieve, OBE bans competition, honors, and traditional subject matter courses and grades...

OBE does nothing to upgrade academic standards. Instead, it is designed to conceal the progressive lowering of standards

The self-esteem curriculum is technically called "Affective Education" -- "The movement has been labeled Affective Education by educators, and includes a wide range of programs and curricula which attempt to change the values and behavior of students." The result is explained, for example, in a book The Narcissm Epidemic by psychologists Twenge and Campbell.

Self-esteem education is damaging to students most of all. When a student leaves that artificial bubble world and enters the harsh real world, they are not prepared to succeed with an actual skill. Disorientation, difficulty, and heartache can be the results. Raised to expect positive reinforcement as guaranteed, they are exceptionally sensitive to any criticism. For example, notice how thin-skinned Barack Obama is, how he is unable to cope with any criticism.

Victims of the public schools don't easily learn from mistakes, change, or grow because that would require admitting they made a mistake that needs correcting. They often do not grow out of bad habits or limitations. The Amateur describes how Obama has failed to grow in office, for example, in sharp contrast with other presidents.

I have seen friends make decisions based on their feelings, rather than on the facts in front of them. Now I understand: that's how they were indoctrinated growing up. Their self-defeating patterns and habits are exactly what conservatives warned for decades would happen from the self-esteem movement. Conservative warnings have once again come true.

Now, it would be wrong to say that Obama is not well-educated. He is very well-indoctrinated in left-wing policy seminar talking points. In fact, Obama is naturally bright, which is the tragedy of self esteem education. He has thoroughly and deeply grasped the liberal viewpoint on everything. If Obama had been exposed to an actual education, he could have excelled. But as it is, Obama knows nothing but what is offered by liberal indoctrination. And having mastered that tiny set of propaganda points, Obama imagines himself to be well-informed. Memorizing liberal policy talking points is what Obama believes to be a real education. There is a deep irony in the fact that liberal education has crippled the efforts of its own chief standard-bearer.

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