Obama on Maron podcast. The Presidency is sort of middle management.


One of the things I love about radio and audio podcasts is that a good conversation or interview can be very enlightening.

President Obama on Marc Maron’s podcast.
Photos by Pete Sousa

I recommend people listen to this Barack Obama interview by Marc Maron. Here is the link to listen or download.

I got a couple of things from the interview. First, was how Obama sees himself and his Presidency.  The second was his thinking and decision making process. Third was how he goes about trying to implement change.

The hot topic on Twitter about the interview is the use of the n-word by the President.  It was in context and about racism. I’m sure someone has already lost their mind over it, “Why is it okay for him to say it and not me!?” Yadda Yadda, bark bark, woof woof.   Please. Spare me your disingenuous hysterics.

The end of the interview gave me some hope for the last part of his Presidency, but based on the first part, I’m not expecting something wild, just “a bit better.”

The most interesting insight for me was Maron’s observation at 27:34 that Obama agreed with.  “There is an element of the Presidency that is sort of middle management.”

Obama knows he has power, but he sees the country as this massive ship. If we can turn it 2 degrees in the right direction, that’s progress. Lots of people want a 50 degree turn, and he believes that is not possible. But in 10 years that 2 degrees in the right direction will make a big difference.

The other thing that struck my half-human half-Vulcan mind is that his understanding of what is a fact is really important. He has the Vulcan desire to use reason to make decisions and can’t believe that people, when presented the facts, would decide otherwise.

Compare this method versus people who make up or twist facts to get what they want. Or compare it to people who use emotional arguments to get what they want.  It sounds like he understands that not everyone thinks this way, (but damnit, they should!) and that just giving them the ‘facts’ isn’t enough.

I see this all the time with communications to people by progressives.  “If only they knew the facts!” They are so perplexed when “the truth” doesn’t set people free. They don’t understand why people don’t look at the facts and say, ‘By jove, you are right, I am wrong. I will change my mind from this moment forward.”

Having to deal with messy complex emotions is annoying to logic-based thinkers.  They have to “lower themselves” and “resort” to appealing to emotion. It offends their rational mind that they need to use other methods to communicate and persuade.

When I complained about people having an emotional outburst based on incorrect facts an old friend said, “But Spocko, their feelings are very real to them.”

You need to understand the irrational mind, and what it would mean to them if they changed their minds. There are times when you know you can’t change those minds, so you change the venue, the game or the premise. Or you don’t play in their sandbox and go around them.

I also realized just how important to understanding certain Obama decisions is what was presented as a fact to him. If your economic advisers and Wall Street people come to you with what they call facts, but you don’t have someone there to tell you that their “facts” aren’t really facts but predictions based on assumptions and lies, it’s hard to tell them to do something different.

Wall Street bankers will say, “The facts don’t lie!” yet the people who created those “facts” did lie. Fox News isn’t the only entity that makes up their own facts to fit their narrative.

 Marc asked about where the President is now. It’s part of Maron’s style of comparing his old angry comedian self with the person he is now.

The word that Obama used that stuck out to me was “Fearless.”

I like fearless, it gives me hope.  I doubt he will make a radical change, more like a 2 percent change in the right direction. Where will he apply this fearlessness?

I hope it’s not on the TPP, because as with Wall Street “Economist Experts”, the “facts” he is given about these trade schemes are suspect. The “facts” are coming from the people who will benefit.  Who is in the White House now telling Obama the trade “facts” supplied by the lobbyists aren’t really facts?

Fearless would Obama be saying, “If you lobbyists aren’t afraid of the details, you won’t have a problem with transparency.” That would be a change in the right direction.

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