Just before Christmas, on December 20, 2009, Dr. Drew Westen posted a lengthy article at Huffington Post entitled Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010: Pretty Speeches, Compromised Values, and the Quest for the Lowest Common Denominator. Dr. Westen’s piece caused quite a stir in both the blogosphere and more traditional media, and rightfully so in light of the comprehensive discussion he gives on the Obama phenomenon, what it has brought and where it is leading the country and Democratic party.
Curiously, I may have been the only one who didn’t see Drew’s article when it originally hit. This is a shame because on January 1st I did a post, Obama’s Royal Scam and The Iron Fist Of Rahm, that would have been greatly enhanced had I possessed the benefit of Dr. Westen’s piece when writing. Because of the parallel nature of our subject matters, I was asked to host Dr. Westen today for a chat on his hard hitting and important Huffington Post article. Today’s discussion will be of great interest to most everybody at Firedoglake irrespective of your relative view.
Dr. Westen’s whole piece is a must read in its entirety, but here is a sample:
As the president’s job performance numbers and ratings on his handling of virtually every domestic issue have fallen below 50 percent, the Democratic base has become demoralized, and Independents have gone from his source of strength to his Achilles Heel, it’s time to reflect on why. The conventional wisdom from the White House is those “pesky leftists” — those bloggers and Vermont Governors and Senators who keep wanting real health reform, real financial reform, immigration reform not preceded by a year or two of raids that leave children without parents, and all the other changes we were supposed to believe in.
Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn’t hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president’s leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress’s penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.
What’s costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn’t a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center.
Drew gives an incredibly broad and fair discussion of President Obama’s record of leadership to date from the feckless to the fantastic. But, as Westen points out, Obama is sliding into malaise and ambiguity even in some areas of early big success, such as foreign policy. A hollowing shell behind the soaring rhetoric. There are profound ramifications of the growing listlessness for the country, the world, the Democratic party and 2010 elections and the voters at large. Please join Dr. Drew Westen for a discussion!
Drew Westen received his B.A. at Harvard, an M.A. in Social and Political Thought at the University of Sussex (England), and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan, where he subsequently taught for six years. For several years he was Chief Psychologist at Cambridge Hospital and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Westen is currently a clinical, personality, and political psychologist and neuroscientist, and Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University and is the author of three books and over 150 scholarly articles. He frequently comments on political and psychological issues on radio (NPR), television, and in print. He is the author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, and is the founder of Westen Strategies, LLC, a political and corporate consulting firm. He has advised a range of candidates and organizations, from presidential and congressional campaigns to major progressive organizations, to Fortune 500 companies.