Unleashing Obama’s inner Truman

What Jamie Malinowski said. There’s reason to think that Obama will become more combative over time; I hope he also becomes more partisan, since we want to take back the House as well as re-electing the President. And I wouldn’t want to underestimate the problem Obama’s skin color creates for any strategy that involves expressing anger rather than sorrow or mockery. But he’s made maximum use of Rope-a-Dope, and confronts the maximally dopey set of opponents. Time – past time – to raise the volume a bit.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Unleashing Obama’s inner Truman”

  1. Mark – Absolutely. I also think that Obama’s personal frustration and disgust with the broken political process, combined with temporal limits to service and patience, will unpack his badass. Cuz he has it; we just haven’t seen it fully unpacked. Second (and last) term, a serious learning curve, an opposition increasingly defined as Paul and Perry-esque wacko, a (slowly) recovering economy – I agree we might be seeing a bit more fight from our famously controlled prez.

  2. Not anger. A black man can’t express anger. But cold disgust is a pretty good substitute. And it is not inconsistent with Obama’s public persona.

    I’m of the school that thinks Obama’s blackness has been a net asset, even though it precludes anger. Like Digby says, Republicans try to emasculate their opponents, or at least their male opponents. They did it to Kerry and Gore. They couldn’t do it to Bill Clinton, the swordsman. And they can’t do it to a calm black family man. They’re not even trying too hard.

    1. “A black man can’t express anger.”

      This, and there’s no end in sight. Lots of people who are certain they are good liberals and not at all racist got very indignant about Obama sticking up for Skip Gates. I suppose if he got angry *at* a black man, it would be OK, but no one would even detect that as anger because it’s just good,old-fashioned common sense to middle America.

  3. All he has to do is channel the character he exhibited during his campaign, when he was not exactly nice: “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” I don’t remember that he was particularly pleasant to St. John of the Seven Houses, either. Or is is eight? And wonder of wonders, he still won. Imagine that. Imagine if he had not waited so long to wake the f— up. Of course, the jury is still out on whether he is awake. We’ll see.

  4. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the problem Obama’s skin color creates for any strategy that involves expressing anger rather than sorrow or mockery.

    I’m not convinced of this widespread idea that it’s dangerous for Obama to express anger. There are things to be legitimately angry about, and expressing that doesn’t strike me as a bad idea. Sorrow? We want a President, not a passive bearer of troubles.

  5. I am not so sure the president has been sitting on a bunch of withheld anger all this time, as to me he still seems moderate (Republican) by nature. And there’s nothing per se wrong with that.

    What has helped him vis-a-vis the GOP is that one couldn’t mistake this for lack of spine.

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