Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Excuse Me, Did the New York Times Just Describe the President as a Jerk?

A Sunday New York Times front page story — New York Times! — might have killed President Obama’s re-election hopes.

That's how Rich Karlgaard, one of the staff writers over at Forbes magazine, sizes up the surprisingly candid article by Jodi Kantor, “The Competitor in Chief — Obama Plays To Win, In Politics and Everything Else.” 

Karlgaard continues:

With such a title, and from such a friendly organ, at first I thought Jodi Kantor’s piece would be a collection of Obama’s greatest political wins: His rapid rise in Illinois, his win over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, the passage of health care, and so on.

But the NYT piece is not about any of that. Rather, it is a deep look into the two outstanding flaws in Obama’s executive leadership:

1. How he vastly overrates his capabilities...

2. How he spends extraordinary amounts of time and energy to compete in — trivialities...

Is Karlgaard overstating the case? Sure. And I think he might be wrong about Kantor's motives in examining the egotistic drive that marks Barack Obama's every move. I mean, there are a lot of folks that actually admire people who display a self-centered, arrogant strut. Look at the fans of certain athletes, business tycoons and rock stars.

But Barack Obama's public image wasn't supposed to be anything like this. America wanted him to be the healer, the servant, the other-directed "soul captain" who would rise above partisanship, rancor, secrecy, money...and ego.

He didn't rise above any of these things.

Not by a longshot.

And that's why Jodi Kantor's New York Times article, coming out on the eve of the Democrat Convention, is indeed going to shake things up a bit. And not in a positive way for the President. For even if the writer was trying to be friendly to Barack Obama, even if the Times was trying to spin his egoism in some kind of positive direction, most readers are going to put down the article thinking one overriding thing; our President is a petty, preening jerk.

I recommend reading both articles.