Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Body Language on the Potomac

Presidential courage can be a tricky question.

The fuss over a TV anatomical reference to Barack Obama recalls the original Dick in American politics, Nixon, and how another President, LBJ, viewed his successor’s genital endowments--wrongly, as it turned out, based on his own Vietnam mistakes arising from confusion in that area.

Depressed and unhappy in retirement, Johnson was still trying to understand what went wrong, when I saw and heard him analyze his successor Richard Nixon.

"Not much here," LBJ said, pointing to his head and then his heart, "even less here," before lowering a hand below the belt and saying grudgingly, "But enough down there."

Johnson’s judgment was made in the aftermath of the quagmire he created by his stubborn refusal to become "the first American president to lose a war." He spent those final years confused by his own downfall from what he considered a gutsy stand.

Barack Obama’s problems today, however, come not from too much self-assertion, but too little and a more apt role model would be, not LBJ with his hubris, but Harry Truman with his feistiness in trying to blast through Congressional road blocks to saving the economy.

For five years after Johnson’s departure, Dick Nixon kept us bleeding blood and money in Vietnam by refusing to wimp out there. In today’s confrontation, Obama does not have that much time, no matter what pundits say about his guy behavior.

Hormonal metaphors won’t hurt.

1 comment:

John said...

Obama's enemies will always attack him - whatever he does. If he's "understated," then they call him "weak." If he's aggressive, they call him Nat Turner, not Harry Truman.