It’s Not Self-Regard But Condescension

A healthy sense of self-regard and confidence are necessary personal attributes for any successful leader. Under what other circumstances would anyone desire the scrutiny and loss of privacy associated with becoming an national leader?

However, even given the high bar set by recent leaders, President Barack Obama’s self-regard approaches a historical highs.

In 2008, Obama explained, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.’’ Either he selected a mediocre speechwriter, policy advisers and a political director or Obama is apparently convinced he is always the smartest person in the room.

When it looked liked the Republicans might enjoy a hugely successful mid-term election in 2010 that rivaled 1994 when Republicans earned a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in a generation, Obama dismissed these concerns by saying, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’’

Whatever, on thinks about former President Bill Clinton’s policies, he is universally acknowledged as the most masterful politician in memory. For Obama to cavalierly declare that he could avoid political losses that Clinton could not, betrays self-regard bordering on what others have called “narcissism.’’

Obama’s self-regard may eventually prove politically fatal, but his recent problem is not been the regard in which he holds himself, by the dismissive and condescending regard with which he holds his fellow Americans. We received a glimpse of this during the 2008 election, when Obama said of Pennsylvanians in hard times, “they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations’’’

While Obama now concedes that his party suffered a “shellacking,’’ he chalks it up to a recovery that has not yet really kicked in. Obama has only acknowledged that perhaps he has not been able to explain to Americans the soundness of his policies. The implications is that if only Americans were smart and aware enough they would appreciate Obama’s efforts.

When Americans were focused on the pain caused by a struggling economy, Obama and the Democrats thought that it was necessary to pass a sweeping and costly health care reform bill. They crammed it through despite the fact that a clear majority of Americans were against it and now want its repeal. In addition, Obama and the Democrats increased the debt by trillions to stimulate the economy while most people believe that the policy has not worked. Obama was saying, in essence, we know better than the American people, so we are going to pass the health care reform and stimulus bills anyways.

Americans will tolerate and perhaps even celebrate a leader with overweening self confidence, but not one who has comparable low regard of Americans as a whole.

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