Is President Obama a Wimp?

September 13th, 2009

In an article at, Ben Smith poses an interesting question:  “Who’s afraid of Barack Obama?”

The answer, apparently, is no one, aside from extremists on the right who have exaggerated his agenda and his strength.

As Smith notes, Obama by nature is cool and conciliatory, and in particular he’s shown virtually no tendency toward making members of his own Party pay a price for opposing him. 

It’s said that “politics is the art of the possible,” and politicians from the local ward-healer all the way up to the president have to know that both carrots and sticks are necessary to make things possible.  Obama so far seems to be almost all carrot and very little stick.  If he fails to get his major agenda items through Congress, this is likely to be a big part of the reason.

This kind of approach is also a problem in foreign affairs, and it can lead to appeasement at times when steely-eyed realism, strength, and a willingness to use raw power are needed.

Right-wing opponents of the President would be closer to the mark if they painted him less as Joseph Stalin and more as Neville Chamberlain.

From Smith’s article:

The new president spent his first months in office coasting on love and popularity. In his health care speech to Congress Wednesday, he rallied after a rough summer with a new round of tough talk.

But with the moment of truth fast approaching on Capitol Hill for the signature item on his domestic policy, Obama seems to lack one item that most presidents find helpful to have in their White House tool box: Fear.

On the left and on the right, interest groups and members of Congress have been eagerly enjoying the rewards — publicity, negotiating leverage — of challenging the president or dissenting from his policies.

That’s usually a practice presidents try to discourage — especially among members of their own party — by making it clear that the long-term penalty will be greater than any short-term gains.

But the practice has been encouraged by this president’s own intellectual and political style — a preference for negotiation, combined with a disinclination toward drawing bright lines about his own bottom line. …

It’s got some people in both parties wondering whether there really is a steel fist inside Obama’s velvet glove.

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5 Responses to “Is President Obama a Wimp?”

  1. doris |

    I don’t think he is a wimp,just speaks softly and carries a big stick,maybe?Doesn’t seem to matter how tough the pres.seems to be,9/11 happened on Bushs watch and the world saw him as tough.Everyone thinks he was such a tough,terrible force to reckon with after 9/11.Before that,apparently the terrorists were not afraid of him.Maybe when the world hated our pres. and even feared him and found him to be, in their opinion,stupid,,they were more likely to act out toward us.If they respect and admire him and even want to talk to our pres.,maybe they will not act so terrible toward us.We can hope it will be so,but I think if need be,Obama can and will show his strength,just not to fight his own people.

  2. A.J.Moore |

    I don’t think the term “wimp” applies to anyone who holds the
    office of President of the United States. On the other hand,
    I believe Mr. Obama needs to start thinking in terms of “I won
    the election, now it’s hardball time”. By that I mean, he needs
    to adopt some of the Lyndon Johnson approach of “hands on”
    politics. Most of his fans think this is just a continuation of
    the election, but that’s over. Now, roll up the sleeves and work.
    Our so called allies have turned their backs on us. France and
    Germany never bought into Iraq. Britain stayed with us, but now
    have also gone. It’s time for our President to get a hold on the
    issue that “we’re spending ourselves into a black hole”. We need to clearly get out of a no win situation like Afghanistan and
    concentrate that money at home. To which, we could use those
    billions spent for folks who dispise us for being in their country
    to start with, on people who need health coverage NOW in OUR country. Obama needs to do whatever he can to get people working
    again at ALL levels and then and ONLY THEN address other matters.
    Wim? NO Unsure what step to take first? YES

  3. Brian |

    AJ, the best thing the president can do to get the economy rolling again is to quit spending money on non-productive things, which is mostly what government spends money on. Government spending is the problem, and more of it will only make the problem worse.

    If you cried “Ouch” every time you whacked yourself in the head with a hammer, I’d suggest that if you wanted the pain to go away that you should stop whacking yourself in the head with a hammer. Government “solves problems” by throwing money at those problems, which creates more problems. The solution, according to our “leaders,” is to throw more money at “the problems.”

    It’s high time we got off the short bus.

  4. Harvey |


    ““Who’s afraid of Barack Obama?”

    The answer, apparently, is no one, aside from extremists on the right who have exaggerated his agenda and his strength.”

    Exaggerated his agenda? How is it possible to exaggerate the agenda of a man who has grown the government as large as he has, has proposed a government takeover of the healthcare system, has proposed a “carbon tax” that will cripple business and industry and who announced just today that he is about to impose “serious financial reform” on Wall Street and told them that they should “not fight it,” because he will impose his new regulations anyway.

    This man’s actions cannot be exaggerated they are the actions of a tyrant who sees only flaws in the United States. As for his power, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed, Barny Frank and a super majority in both the Senate and the House are not exaggerations — they are facts; very scary facts!

    Anyone who is not afraid of this Leftist Radical is not paying the slightest bit of attention.

  5. Tim Seretis |

    Presidnet Obama has two young daughters, do you really think he wants to give them a bleak future? In fact I wrote to him recently and I even got feedback in the mail about this. I explained as a father of two young boys myself I do worry about the future, and he as a father of two young daughters I am confident that he also worries about their future as well, so why would he destroy their future? I do not think so, Deep down I thing President Obama does care, and does see the need to change. So I do not think he is a whimp, and I do think he would step up to the plate if need be to defend this nation.

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