Go with a smile!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Drama from No Drama Obama

The most stressful time for me academically was not Snowy Hill, although I would say that in terms of the amount of stuff I learnt in an academic setting, Snowy Hill had the most. (What I’m learning now in Mexico cannot compare, because I’m older now and older people are slower learners). During my “A” levels, I probably mugged harder than any other time in my life. In comparison, in Snowy Hill my learning was more contemplative, less cramming of facts but rather a considered meditation on where everything fit in the grand scheme of things.

I used to ace mathematics papers, but that day they came up with a question that I just couldn’t answer on the spot. I got an “F” for that paper and I was in a daze. That paper was the earliest in a grueling prelim period, where there was a paper to sit for every other day over a period of around 1 month. After that, I started panicking and for the next few weeks I probably worked more studiously that any other time in my life. I managed to pull together some fairly decent results for once. Those were not my real “A” levels, but it was probably more important than the “A” levels, because they formed the basis of what my teachers felt were my predicted grades: those were the grades that got me into Snowy Hill, not my “A” levels.

The reason why I bring this up is because I’m trying to remember one time when a person screwed up so badly that he’s putting his entire career in jeopardy. That was my moment, although I’m sure that in the long run, it’s what you do every single day that matters more.

I’m thinking about Barack Obama’s presidency of the USA. I’m thinking about how he screwed up the debate with Mitt Romney, and people said that he had the worst US president debate performance in recent memory.

Before the debate, it looked as though Barack Obama had pulled clear of Mitt Romney, especially in the polls. In the Democratic convention, he had two of the most popular people in America rooting for him and speaking up for him: Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama.

Not much thought was given to the presidential debates. People noted that there were only two times in recent history when the debates counted. Once was when JFK defeated Richard Nixon, and that counted a lot because it was the first time that presidential debates were broadcast live on television. Another time was when Bush 2 defeated Al Gore. In both instances, both candidates were very close to each other in the polls. People mostly assumed that others would not be so daft as to vote for Romney, so they thought that Obama would win the elections anyway. How wrong they were!

From what I heard, Obama didn’t look like he was interested in debating Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney told so many lies during the debates, but Obama didn’t feel like whacking him back. People were aghast.

Ultimately you had to understand what kind of a person Obama was. His father was an African who came to the US to pursue further studies as a grad student. His mother was a professor. Yes. Both his parents were geeks. Obama is a geek. He is a professor: first and foremost, he is a professor. In a way, that makes him ideally suited for the job of the president, because America’s problems are complex enough that they need somebody really brainy to untangle all the problems. But somebody as cerebral and as remote as he is might be a hard sell for the American people.

I think that there is a problem when things are too easy for you early in life. When I was in Snowy Hill I looked around me and I got the feeling that almost anybody I knew found it harder than I did to get in there. I felt that somebody born 10 years earlier than me in Singapore would find it harder to get in there, as would somebody born 10 years later. In a sense I crossed the bar when it was at its lowest. When I graduated, I didn’t fully realize what a privilege it was to be a Snowy Hill graduate. Now that I’m more aware of it, it doesn’t really matter anymore. In a sense, there is a real danger of not fully cherishing what you really own, because it just happened to fall onto your lap.

Obama had an incredibly easy ride to the presidency. He had just gotten into the Senate when he was selected out of the blue to make an address in the Democratic Party convention. At the beginning of 2008, most people expected Hillary Clinton to be nominated for presidency. But she came across as being too tough and too shrill. Things in America were pretty screwed up and it was incredibly easy for an outsider to present himself as an agent for change. So that’s what he did. He was the only candidate who was not tainted by being part of the current system.

Once he got into office, though, his strengths almost instantly became weaknesses. Because he was not a part of the system, his experience showed on a lot of mistakes that he made. He was never able to master how to fight Congress and the Senate. He is by no means anywhere as bad as Bush 2. But he will never be one of the greats.

Now, however, he faces one of the greatest fights of his life. It’s not like me doing the “A” levels where I had to find an extra gear, and I always knew I had an extra gear and never used it. Obama – well there’s no extra gear because I’m sure that he’s maxxed out. There are very few jobs out there that are tougher than POTUS. Not only that – his tenure as POTUS is probably tougher than – say both Bush’s or Clinton’s.

Anyway, whatever it is, I hope that he gets through this because regardless of his flaws, he’s still 10 times better than the president I think that Mitt Romney is going to be. It’s just like Al Gore is probably 10 times better than what Bush was like.

People are wondering what MBTI type Obama is. It’s possible that he’s the same type as me – INTP. Not a very strong I, or T. But other people who have classified him are sure that he is N and P. INTPs are pretty cold blooded people, and we know by now that Obama is nothing if not cold blooded. They watched him when he was giving instructions to kill Bin Laden: something that if it wasn’t handled properly could destroy his political career. His impatience with people who are not as smart as him. Don’t take this the wrong way but I probably could murder another human being and not feel too bad about it. I don’t do it because I think it’s wrong. But after I do it, I wouldn’t really have nightmares. I very seldom stab people in the back but after the one or two times I don’t feel bad about it.

INTPs can turn on the charm for short periods of time because they are smart enough to know how to do so. But over a longer period, they can’t do it because it’s against their nature.

It’s possible that right now he’s wilting under the pressure. He was probably sick and tired of having to put up with more of Mitt Romney’s lies. People are deathly afraid and some people are openly asking the unthinkable – does this guy actually want to be president? He doesn’t seem to love the job as much as – say Bill Clinton. It’s actually a pretty unloveable job. Michelle Obama said, “don’t worry about us too much if we don’t win these elections. We’ll be fine”. She’s a good first lady but a pretty reluctant one.

Well it’s not really about whether or not he likes being president. He’s the only guy standing in the way of Mitt Romney being president so he better be the next president.


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