Better than Average is Best

Intellectualism should be prized in our leaders, not seen as a flaw

In the midst of the commentary surrounding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, his style of governing has been analyzed almost as much as his policy decisions.

Jacob Weisberg, a columnist for, recently wrote an article arguing that Obama’s calm and analytical persona is a primary reason for the decline in public support for him and his party. I find this point both interesting and depressing.

“The way Obama connects to people is the opposite of a Clinton, a Bush, or a Ronald Reagan. Those presidents were all relaters. They bonded with people based on common feelings, experiences, and interests…His [Obama’s] relationship with the world is primarily rational and analytical rather than intuitive or emotional,” said Weisberg.

After reading Weisberg’s article, I see myself at odds with what the apparent majority of American people want, if what Weisberg is speculating is true. I do not want someone who bases their decisions on emotion and gut reaction to be running one of the most powerful countries in the world; I want someone who is thoughtful, calm and analytical in that position.

I am not proposing that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan were not analytical, that is not at issue here. Analytical and emotional are not mutually exclusive traits. What worries me is that people distrust Obama because he doesn’t employ that same show of emotion. I think being calm and analytical is a necessary quality for any effective and worthwhile leader.

Obama has very often been accused of elitism. This was said of him both on the campaign trail as well as during his first year of presidency. The fact that he doesn’t show his feelings as easily may very well have something to do with this. People see him as cold, which they equate with a feeling of superiority.

I have a bone to pick with these people. If they want someone who talks down at the level of the average American, they will also get someone of that intelligence. This is also the attraction to Sarah Palin.

She is seen as a “hometown girl” who very much relates with “hometown” Americans. I don’t understand the attraction to having someone like this lead the country. I want someone who is not average and not of mediocre intelligence to be leading our country. I think an intelligent leader is a necessary component to a properly functioning society.

If Barack Obama is losing supporters because he is either too analytical or too smart, that is not a flaw of his. That is a flaw of the people he is losing support from due to this reason.

There can be reasonable dissent about the policy decisions Obama has made in his first year of office. There can be doubts about the effectiveness of his decisions abroad. But I think it is clear that he is someone who researches issues fully before making a decision and he very much “looks before he leaps.”

As Thomas Henry Huxley said, “Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.”