The Weekend Read
The Preferential President

President Obama has preferences, not convictions, yet he continues to take strong stands in public. This is a dangerous combination.

Published on: March 15, 2014
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  • Boritz

    “…an age that is extraordinarily uncomfortable with convictions of any kind.”

    This is surely apparent and the examples ring true, but paradoxically we have absolute belief in man made global warming/climate change and an absolute belief in a woman’s right to choose and an absolute belief in gay marriage exhibited by the very same people. Their lack of conviction isn’t total. And they are really nasty about dissent not willing that an opposing viewpoint be the least respected.

    • Fred

      I think that’s the kind of thing Yeats had in mind when he said “The worst are full of passionate intensity.”

  • Fat_Man

    I will say that I told you so. The first time that I called Obama an empty suit in a writing in public was March 2008. I have repeated that statement on many occasions since them. Too bad that people like the author took five years and five trillion dollars of deficit spending to reach that level of insight.

    Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

    • Corlyss

      The first time I ever heard of him was in June 2004 when unscrupulous Dem lawyers and Dem judge (a tautology, I realize) breached divorce files “sealed for the benefit of the minor child” to deploy Jerri Ryan’s perjury to knock Jack Ryan out of the Senate race in Ill. when he was 30 points ahead of the unknown nobody Obama. I never recovered from that vile, corrupt, and utterly typical manipulation of the system as far as my attitudes toward Obama. I’ve loathed him from the date of his Senate election. With each public stand he took as Senator, he confirmed my worst expectations of him – opportunistic, transparent only in the predictability of his post-Vietnam trendily anti-American, pacifist and racist stands on issues, apparently oblivious of the serious entitlements fiscal crises facing the nation, hot to rob from the military to fund ineffectual yet expensive poverty programs. I didn’t think it was possible the voters could be so stupid as to elect him Senator, never mind President. Boy was I surprised.

  • Bruce

    I disagree with this article. I think he has strong convictions and they support his Marxist leanings. Sometimes he has to look weak to drag America down, but he’s gladly willing to do it.

    • Corlyss

      I take your point, but what conviction has he not given up, practically or actually? Red lines, consequences, racial healing, the good war, Obamacare, ad infin. What I’m getting at is rhetoric ain’t action. He talks a good-sounding game, but he’s not rhetorically backed off a single stand in the face of opposition, and refused to take the pragmatic half loaf, thus “winning” nothing, ceding everything. Even his signature program, O-care, he’s eviscerated piecemeal, while reviling people who suggest exactly what he’s doing. I mean, could there be a bigger paradox?

      • Jim__L

        Convictions aren’t to be kept. They are to “evolve”.

  • Anthony

    “It is a subtle and powerful fantasy…. His ascent to office had itself been magical. The problem with President Obama is not that he lacks convictions. It is that he doesn’t know that he lacks convictions.” Avoiding picayune sentiments, to the aforementioned nothing to add because quotes soberly provide synopsis of last six presidential years (inclusive of campaign).

  • Corlyss

    President Obama, like all Democrats, have poses, not principles (or convictions in this article’s parlance).

  • Jim__L

    He doesn’t lack convictions. He’s tolerant.

    (See how much better that sounds? It sounds better than “apathy”, too, which is how they’ve repackaged the disease of GenX, Y, and Millennials.)

  • lhfry

    The best description of Obama comes from Thomas Sowell at

    “Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people — most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant.

    A talented con man, or a slick politician, does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.”

  • free_agent

    One way to phrase it is that Obama believes in “the power of ideas”, that *having the right ideas* and disseminating them suffices to make the world better. You write, “the decision-making and confrontation that true leadership requires”, but don’t forget the deal-making and horse-trading. “Thus, Politics is in fact the Art of the Faustian Bargain. Faust, because you prick your finger and sign on the dotted line in the presence of your enemies. Art, because, when done right, you arrive in heaven … your hair singed and the scent of sulfur on your clothes … but in heaven all the same.”

    Ironically, G.W. Bush had the same failing: He thought that if you eliminate the tyrant, the people automatically generate a democracy. Afghanistan and Iraq proved how wrong that was. OTOH, Bill Clinton was a scoundrel at heart, and didn’t have the illusion that people had each other’s best interests at heart, and thus he could do politics that actually made the world better.

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