Justin Frank: The Psychological Foundation Of Obama’s Political Problems | The New Republic
[D]issociation is at the core of some his greatest political strengths. It helped him become intellectually nimble, and acutely alert to his surroundings. It’s only by adapting this kind of psychic position his entire life that Obama was able to easily joke at the White House Correspondents Dinner while knowing there was an active mission underway to kill Osama bin Laden.
But assuming this perpetually peripheral role has also taken a lasting toll. The anxiety of not belonging has grown to occupy an ever-greater part of his psyche. He writes in Dreams From My Father that when, as an adult, he was walking through the most dangerous parts of Chicago late at night, the greatest fear he had was the fear of not belonging. But now there is a new tension, between his need to belong and the demands of standing up for what he believes. The former is driven by his related fears of not belonging and being abandoned; the latter carries the risk of alienating others irrevocably.
In material reality, his concern with alienating conservatives is wholly unproductive: it is unlikely that he can be more hated by the Tea Party than he already is. Nonetheless, he continues to relentlessly pursue compromises with Republicans that will never happen. Indeed, so concerned is he with his own degree of belonging that he jeopardizes the sympathies of those who actually have felt a natural and authentic connection to him. Whatever other political and personal advantages it confers, Obama’s observational caution doesn’t give jobless participants in “Occupy Wall Street” or Wisconsin’s striking public employees the sense that he is concerned.
Again, it’s not that the President lacks passionate emotions. Indeed, given the onslaught of personal provocations doled out by his political competitors, his stores of rage are sure to be filling up. But the question of what will happen with that anger will likely be closely bound with his reelection campaign in 2012. Previously, he has found an outlet for aggression on the campaign trail: The only times he has felt comfortable being truly rhetorically confrontational are when he’s standing behind a teleprompter or a podium and before a cheering audience.
There are hints of this campaign persona in the unusually blunt talk coming from the president recently, as when he warned that there “will be no easy exit ramps” for Congress as it tries to escape painful spending cuts. But it remains to be seen whether this is merely a temporary ventilation of Candidate Obama, or a more lasting change in the psychology of the President.
I’m wondering if Dr.Frank is in a dissociative fugue and and forgotten his training.