Wednesday, June 09, 2010

When Anger Is Not Good

The recent twitter post by NPR entitled “How Emotive Should A President Be? made me think of the presidential campaign of 2008. Back then, then candidate Obama was loosely compared to President Lincoln; the historical perspective of Lincoln freeing black slaves and Obama being the first African-American to have a real chance of becoming president, as well as the fact that both men came from Illinois. 
Since, he became president, Obama has been compared to FDR and LBJ in his domestic achievements and vilified in the media, mainly Conservative press, for his attacks on the basic freedoms of Americans in making health care more affordable and banks for being accountable (please note my sarcasm). 
Now, in the literal wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and a Financial reform bill snaking its way through the Congress, but mainly with the governments response to the spill and BP’s actions, Obama is being criticized for not being ‘mad’ or angry enough. 
Here is a good question though, when does anger constitute what is appropriate from a president and be extension, make him a ‘good’ president?
In reflecting upon this I was drawn back to Lincoln and wondered if he had faced similar public outcry or media scrutiny during his time in the White House. Considering the list of events that transpired after his election; half the South seceding from the Union, a Federal fort being attacked, outbreak of Civil War between the North and Southern states, successive political-generals & general-politicians who lost battle after battle, a Cabinet comprised of men who all thought they personally would make a better president than him, Northern sympathizers with the Southern cause, Northerners who wanted an immediate peace with the South (Copperheads), Abolitionists who wanted immediate end to slavery, Democrats, Republicans, and let us not forget all the newspaper editors, Horace Greeley amongst them who daily berated the president for not doing enough or being seem to be too controlling! 
On second reflection, Lincoln is not the best comparison. There is a reason why American presidential historians rank Lincoln first in the poll of greatest American President. What maybe more important to remember about Lincoln was his style of governing. Therefore, back to Obama.
The fact that after a year of seeing the President Obama in ‘action’ and observing his style which all agree is deliberate, calm, and calculated why should one be surprised that he does not show anger? If he did, I have no doubt that it would be criticized as calculated. 
I am also reminded, and I think this is important for supporters and detractors of the president to remember, that during his campaign it was explained how he had a “steel hand within a velvet glove.” Also, shortly after the Wall Street bail-out of 2009 occurred and it was reported that the big banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America took some of that money and used it for other purposes than the intended financial aid, Obama got very angry behind closed doors and those on Wall Street soon discovered his anger. 
I have no doubt that within meetings in the White House, over the phone talking with advisors and BP executives, the president has shown his anger. Showing anger in public is not the best action.
Let us all except that this is the type of president we have and his management style. Period. 
There can only be one Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and yes, even George W. Bush. 

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