The ego factor: Can Obama change?

“Well, the big difference here and in ’94 [attempt at health care reform] was you’ve got me,” [Rep. Marion] Berry quoted Obama as saying.

John F. Harris and Glenn Thrush
Politico
11/5/2010

…Self-regard can blur into self-delusion. According to many Obama supporters and skeptics alike, it is still to be seen whether Obama shares with his most successful predecessors a capacity for self-critique and self-correction.

A year ago, after Democrats got trounced in off-year elections in New Jersey and Virginia — in large measure because of the same flight of independents that helped the GOP triumph in the midterm elections — White House aides loudly and publicly stated that there were no lessons in the results that were relevant to Obama. And for most of the year that followed, they acted on that premise.

This misplaced confidence, by some lights, did not merely lead to political miscalculations. It strained the emotional connection with voters on which the most successful presidents depend. Restoring that connection, and regaining the sympathy to be extended a second chance, require a show of modesty.

“Humility is a great quality, and it’s one that people will respect,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who teaches at Rice University. “Ronald Reagan could be seen as a polarizing presence, but he also knew how to play humble when it was necessary. Where is President Obama’s self-deprecating humor? Kennedy and Reagan could both be very self-deprecating. People liked that.”

“The worst thing that happened to Obama is he’s lost a lot of his aura. Even his friends think he’s thin-skinned and a bit highfalutin,” he said…

…People have for decades regarded him as having special leadership traits. And some people have observed, for just as long, that Obama sometimes regarded himself as too special.

In author David Remnick’s Obama biography, “The Bridge,” he quotes White House adviser and longtime friend Valerie Jarrett: “I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. … He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. … So, what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

Remnick also regularly cites how even Michelle Obama would sometimes bridle under “his ego and his self-involvement.”…

Read the entire article at Politico.

H/T Althouse, who wrote about quotes attributed to Valerie Jarrett, “Oh, my lord. This is the way the people have buttered him up his whole life, I’m afraid. How will he deal with the rude affront he received last Tuesday? Is there an Obama that fits the changed circumstances or was his entire being formed through relationships with sycophants?”

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