Alex Massie

The President is not your Daddy

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Maureen Dowd is a lovely person but this is a truly terrible column.

No Drama Obama is reticent about displays of emotion. The Spock in him needs to exert mental and emotional control. That is why he stubbornly insists on staying aloof and setting his own deliberate pace for responding — whether it’s in a debate or after a debacle. But it’s not O.K. to be cool about national security when Americans are scared.

Our professorial president is no feckless W., biking through Katrina. He is no doubt on top of the crisis in terms of studying it top to bottom. But his inner certainty creates an outer disconnect.

He’s so sure of himself and his actions that he fails to see that he misses the moment to be president — to be the strong father who protects the home from invaders, who reassures and instructs the public at traumatic moments.

He’s more like the aloof father who’s turned the Situation Room into a Seminar Room.

Emphasis added. Because, obviously, what we need is politics to be more like some ghastly amalgam of Dr Phil and Oprah. There are plenty of reasons why good people might take a sceptical view of much of Obama's policy agenda but this ain't one of them.

As Matt Yglesias says:

Reassuring children is a job for parents. Treating adults like they’re little children is, perhaps, a job for newspaper columnists.

True that, though of course politicians also treat adults as though they're children all the time. Oh for a Baldwin or a Coolidge! Alas, alas and all that...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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