Obama's Psychology

I was thinking about Obama and at the risk of seeming like a pop psychologist, I have some concerns:

Imagine that you’ve spent your short political career as an Illinois state senator, and then you spent less than one term as a US senator. Yet you decide to run for president of the United States after stating a couple of years before that you would never do so because you lack experience. You know you have never accomplished anything noteworthy in your political career and you lack experience in foreign affairs, economics and management. Yet you decide to run for president of the United States. You also realize that you have close personal associations with Marxist radicals, an convicted slumlord and pastor who seems to hate white people and his own country. Yet you decide to run for president of the United States. Your personal history is certainly atypically American, since your father and most of your relatives are African and you were raised, in part, in a Muslim culture. Yet you decide to run for president of the United States. In fact, you’ve wanted to be president since you were a child being schooled in Indonesia. The question is, why? What's driving you?

Well, consider Barack Obama’s personal history. His father abandoned him as a child. His mother also abandoned him by shipping him off to her parents to raise while she stayed in Indonesia with Barack’s sister. If you’re a child and both of your parents abandon you, what then, to you think of yourself? After all, parents are, to a little child, always in the right. So, are you loved? Are you even worthy of love? What would it take to be loved? Children don’t just think these thoughts, they feel them. They incorporate the sense of worthless into their sense of self. Obama spent much of his early life conflicted over his racial identity. In the end, he chose the persona of a black victim of white society. Being a victim validates the notion that you're unworthy. Barack could have chosen to succeed in white society, but instead, emotionally disparaged it.

Children grow up reacting to the feeling that their parents don’t love them by either confirming their unworthiness by a life devoid of accomplishment or worse, crime, or they become overachievers, hoping that they can earn the love they miss. Some, such as Slobodan Milosevic and perhaps other dictators, seem to demand adoration from the public as somehow compensating for the lack of personal love. Barack has certainly chosen the path of over-achievement. Yet, it seems he’s desperate to be loved for who he is rather than what he’s done. And the fear of being harshly judged for his actions seems to have resulted in an unwillingness to take a stand on controversial issues. In the Illinois senate, his preferred method of dealing with controversial bills or resolutions was to vote “present.” His preferred method of dealing with the voters is not to legislate, but rather, to pontificate in glib but meaningless generalities about hope and change.

It seems to me that Barack has a fragile sense of his own self-worth. His arrogance stems from the fear of being wrong, because if you’re wrong you must be unworthy and who, then, will love you? His unwillingness to say he was wrong underscores his need to appear invulnerable. His choice to be a community organizer and politician provided an opportunity to win approval from strangers, but it entailed risk that had to be minimized. Barack won his seat in the Illinois senate not by being elected, but rather, by gaming the system to have all his opponents found ineligible. And what of the rush to be president in fulfillment of a childhood ambition? It likely stems from the need to feed on the adoration of millions of voters who really do think you’re special. And being president must mean you’re worthy and surely your parents would be proud. But how do you succeed without exposing yourself to the risk of unpopularity?

After years of agonizing over his identity, Barack chose to be black, like his missing father. He chose surrogate fathers in Frank Marshall Davis, a communist, and Jeremiah Wright, the black liberation theologian with ties to radical Islam. Both men were black, radical and mainly, reinforced his feeling that a black man would never be good enough in a white man’s world. They supported his inner sense of unworthiness. And why did he marry a woman who seems, at the core, to believe that blacks will be forever second class in this “downright mean” country? Does she feed his sense of being a victim, too? Who has Barack associated with that has taught him any different? Unless he has found a way to exorcise the feelings of abandonment and unworthiness that are part of his inner psyche, he will always consider himself as unlovable. I don’t know that Barack has ever visited a therapist, but it would be difficult otherwise to heal his inner hurt. People start out in life as a product of their upbringing and cultural influences. If those were negative, their trajectory will continue until the dysfunctions of their existence compels change or destruction. But some people experience an episode in life that transforms them, such as John McCain's being a prisoner of war or George Bush's choosing sobriety and religion. What transformative experience did Obama undergo to change his trajectory into a political moderate who loves himself?

The frightening part is, there’s another aspect to human nature. That’s the reflexive need to be right because if you're wrong, then you suffer from a lack of approval. So, if you feel yourself to be a loser because your parents proved it by their abandoning you, then you must be right about that, too. If you try to believe otherwise, the first confirmation of failure in life will collapse your facade. And if you feel you aren’t worthy and in the end, that nobody will really love you despite all the outward indications to the contrary, there will come a time when you sabotage the success in your life to prove that your parents were right and you really are unlovable. Why did Barack jump into the presidential race long before he was experienced, as he acknowledged? Was he subconsciously hoping to fail as proof of his not measuring up? Is that why his wife, who also seems to have feelings of being unworthy, was so shocked at his success, saying she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life? (Her Princeton thesis was dedicated to her parents because "they make me feel better about myself.")

I don’t think Obama will be elected. The more the pressure builds on him and the more mistakes he makes, the more his inner child will convince him he’s not good enough. And that will cause him to self-destruct on the campaign trail. His poor, off the cuff verbal performances lately tend to reinforce that conclusion. It's as though the inner tension of possibly saying the unpopular or wrong thing conflicts with his intellect to producing stuttering and inarticulate speech. On the other hand, he does sound articulate while reading a teleprompter. But what happens if Obama is elected president? Will he be unable to make tough decisions that would cost him popularity? Will he sabotage his presidency, and with it the white American society he was taught to loathe, to prove what his inner psyche (as reinforced by his radical mentors) have told him, that he’ll never be accepted? Is it worth the gamble to elect such a man?

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