Among the more disconcerting things Barack Obama said at his post-election press conference yesterday was his response to a question about whether, in light of the nationwide rejection of his policies, he was going to change his leadership style. He basically replied no and added that, “I mean, folks didn’t have any complaints about my leadership style when I was running around Iowa for a year.” He went on to say, “And the relationship that I’ve had with the American people is one that built slowly, peaked at this incredible high, and then during the course of the last two years, as we’ve, together, gone through some very difficult times, has gotten rockier and tougher.” One of the worries about Obama prior to his election is that he actually had very little experience setting an agenda and seeing it through. That’s what governors do, which is why we tend to elect them to the presidency. But in his press conference, it sounds as if Obama really thinks that schlepping around Iowa attending kaffeklatsches and giving speeches that made people tingly was leadership. He doesn’t seem to understand that the day of any president’s election is bound to be “this incredible high,” because after that, he has try to push through necessarily messy and compromised policies.
The mistake of thinking speechmaking and exciting people is leadership has me hoping that this new crop of Republicans, who will have to actually prove themselves as leaders, will help quash talk of Sarah Palin as a potential presidential candidate. I prefer to have two decent choices for the presidency, given the fact that one or the other will end up as president. What’s so absurd about a potential Palin run is that running is all she’s good at. She couldn’t even make it through the “rockier and tougher” times that come with being in office. How can someone who resigned from a governorship because it was too unpleasant and there was so much money to make on the road remotely be presidential material? Palin’s thought processes seem entirely made for the tweet. (Does she even compose her own?) At least Obama has the intellectual skills to grapple with policy, even if much of the country doesn’t like what he came up with. For Palin, the sitting down and doing eludes her.
Photograph of Barack Obama by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.