column about expressions of dissatisfaction with President Obama's foreign policy--by people who accept or at least admit that they agree with his foreign policy: "Fareed Zakaria is the latest columnist to acknowledge that although President Obama's foreign policy decisions have been largely correct, they've been sadly unaccompanied by any magic powers."
Drum goes on to wonder: "Has any president in history been so widely criticized for doing everything right but not crowing loudly enough about it? I mean, it's nice to think that a silver tongue would have gotten congressional Republicans to support intervention in Syria and Germans to approve harsher sanctions against Russia, but it's just not so. I think everyone knows this perfectly well, but we find it so frustrating that we blame Obama for it anyway. It's as if we're all five-year-olds."
There is something that political scientists have begun calling the Green Lantern Theory, or the expectation that the President alone can right every wrong, fix every problem single-handed and be the hero of the day. Whereas they have known the limitations of presidential power for at least the past 50 years, since the publication of Richard Neustadt's classic Presidential Power.
But of course it's more than that, because Drum is right: in some ways we are all five year-olds, if that advanced. We are first and foremost one basic thing (as William Irwin Thompson points out): we are mammals. We are creatures born of mothers and fathers, and most often nurtured by them. This is the unconscious source of many of our primary beliefs and assumptions, and the dramas of our lives, including expectations, projections and conflicts.
It's yet another reason that to deny that psychology is crucial in every aspect of our lives, including political, is sheer arrogant folly. If we don't make conscious the possibilities of (for instance) projecting the ideal father on the king or the President, we'll continue to befuddle ourselves and increasingly threaten our democracy, and now our civilization as well as many of earth's lifeforms, including our own. Unless we at least take this possibility into consideration when evaluating our opinions, we are unlikely to make good decisions.
Beginner's Mind - Finding a very nice hardback copy of Bruce Chatwin's last book in a bargain bin, a kind of miscellany of previously uncollected pieces called What Am I Doi...
4 days ago