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Why do I experience Barack Obama as so inauthentic?


I’m hoping someone can help me understand why Barack Obama comes across to me as so inauthentic. Is it just because I don’t like the man? I’ve mellowed quite a bit toward him. I don’t fly into a rage anymore when I hear him talk. I no longer feel nauseated when I see him on TV. I generally distrust him; but I don’t feel intense emotion about it anymore.

I detested Ronald Reagan, but I never got a feeling that he wasn’t authentic. I always felt that Reagan was pretty straightforward in his words and actions, and sometimes I even found myself almost being charmed by him. I thought he was very bad for the country and felt he was unqualified to be President, but I never thought he was a phony. I despised George W. Bush and thought his policies were dangerous–even evil. But I never got the feeling that he wasn’t being authentic. He always came across to me as pretty upfront about who he was and what his sympathies were.

When I refer to authenticity, I mean it in the sense that Heiddeger used the term. From Wikipedia:

Authenticity is a technical term in existentialist philosophy, and is also used in the philosophy of art and psychology. In philosophy, the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite these pressures.

Here is another description of authenticity that resonates with me:

Authenticity is synonymous with Integrity in the sense of a “state of being whole and undivided”. Being authentic is our most natural state though often contrary to our conditioning. What is authentic for each of us is something only we can know and stay true to. Authenticity helps us choose to what we should devote our energy and in making that choice we invest what we do with meaning and live ‘on purpose’. We actively engage in the making of meaning when we choose authenticity; each begets the other.

I like the idea of an authentic personality being whole and undivided. It has always seemed to me that Obama has no clear sense of himself–of who he is and how he fits into the worlds he inhabits. A few days ago, commenter Inky applied the term “inauthentic” to Obama in the sense (I think) that I’m talking about–that of a feeling response that she had to him. She too was discussing Obama’s behavior during a TV interview–the one where he called Kanye West a “jackass.” Here is a portion of the comment:

I acknowledge that I have a predisposition to finding Obama inauthentic, but I recommend watching the video one more time. Does it really still feel authentic to you? Especially after Obama’s misstep on the Gates v. cop controversy, making such a comment seems like such a no-brainer to me; I certainly would have advised him to do just that if I were David Axelrod

Is that what I’m feeling? That Obama sounds inauthentic because he has practiced the lines that are bothering me? I really don’t think so. Most of Obama’s appearances seem practiced and somewhat artificial. To some extent, the President has to be. I think there is something more happening here, but I’m not sure what.

I’m not talking about lying. All politicians lie. I’m talking about something more subtle, and I’m not sure what it is–speaking style, body language? It seems to me I get the same sense of inauthenticity from Obama whether I’m just listening to his words or watching while he speaks them. In fact, the inauthenticity may come across more strongly when I’m just listening to him.

Some recent examples are in Obama’s appearance on David Letterman Monday night. I heard some excerpts from the show on NPR yesterday, and I got that strong sense of inauthenticity when Obama spoke about his daughters having sleepovers with friends over the summer and their friends’ parents getting frisked by the Secret Service. I don’t know if it was the words themselves that bothered me, or the way he said them. It could even be a sense that Obama isn’t comfortable when he jokes or when he talks about his powerful role as President. Here is some poor video of that section of the interview. The “frisked” comment is around 3:56.

Another place in the interview where I got that same feeling when when Obama “joked” that he had already been black before he got elected President. Here’s that portion of the interview. The part that bothered me most was when he said “one of the things you sign up for in politics is that folks yell at ya.” Whenever Obama refers to “folks,” I get that feeling of inauthenticity. Why?

Here are a few more excerpts from the interview.

Am I seeing something real here, or is it just my dislike of Obama coming through? Again, I’m not talking about his lies. We all know he lies constantly. Is it that he seems inauthentic when he tells the truth? Or when he talks about himself or his family? I wish I knew.

Could it be a class thing? I come from a middle-class family, but certainly not upper middle class. My mother’s father was a dentist and her siblings all went to college and were successful. My father’s family was definitely working class, but he moved into the middle class as result of his service in the army–which enabled him to go to college, get a Ph.D. and buy a home. My family is very down to earth. Could it be that I resent Obama when he tries to seem “folksy?”

I really think I’m sensing something about his character–am I making too much of this? Am I getting too “meta?” I’d really be interested to know if anyone else understands the feeling I’m trying to get at, and especially whether anyone can articulate what it is that bothers me so much about Obama’s behavior in interviews.

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175 Responses

  1. I would like to be able to help explain it because I have exactly the same reaction. It’s visceral and out of my control. I have no idea what causes it but I’m much more comfortable if I never watch Obama or listen to him speak. It’s a little creepy.

    Love the Dali. The Dali Museum in Sydney is pretty good if you get a chance to visit one day.

  2. As to Reagan, as a well trained actor he could fake authenticity better than any of them. We always knew, at least kind of, that he was there to hit his marks and read the lines others wrote for him. And often the words were written on behalf of corporate interests — just like the advertisers he shilled for. Reagan never seemed to engage enough to know if he actually agreed with the lines they gave him. Not the actors job, really. The trouble with W is that he BELIEVED the stuff he spouted. Now, he wasn’t curious enough to ask and dig and find out if his pre-conceived (or pre-digested) viewpoint and information was anywhere near the real world. Obama’s style, IMHO, reflects his betwixt and between status for his entire life. Bi-racial. Missing his father, attached to his mother, but in a real sense raised by his grandparents. A drifting student who woke up inside a great university and then an incredible Law School. Not comfortable in law firm suites. Not comfortable as a community organizer. Polar swings. He writes, we are told, good parts of his main speeches. But is it what he believes, what does he believe, or is it what he thinks will work with an audience????

    • I still have no clue what Obama really believes. My guess is he has no clear sense of that himself. He seems to shift with the wind. As for Reagan, I think there is plenty of evidence that he did believe the things he said. Yes, he was an actor, but not a very good one. I never found his acting convincing at all.

      I think the “real” Reagan is the one who told all those awful stories about welfare queens and people who want to be homeless. I think it was the real Reagan who joked that he was going to bomb Russia in a few minutes. At least that is how it felt to me.

      And I’m really talking about a *feeling* here. It’s not a feeling of dislike. It’s more a feeling of discomfort–almost feeling embarrassed for Obama because he isn’t comfortable with himself. He doesn’t seem genuine.

    • I agree. Reagan was pretty good at faking authenticity. So was GWB for that matter. I’m not sure that GWB believed anything but he was willing to be the front-man for the powers that needed him.

      There are a lot of ways to psychoanalyse Obama, I suppose, but unless he’s there on your couch it’s just speculation.

      I don’t agree (yet) that he is inauthentic in the existential sense, but it’s an interesting question to raise and think about. It troubles me that you found Reagan and Bush to be more genuine. Yikes.

  3. Why do you feel Obama is inauthentic?

    Because he’s a phony.

    Not even an actor.


    Ironically, I think the initial Gates comment was one of the few “authentic” things he’s said. I know a lot of white people don’t like to believe or accept it, but I would bet that most black people, regardless of class or status, found Crowley’s attitude and behavior all too typical.

    • That also goes for poor white people. Those who have been hassled for nothing understand.

    • I agree that Obama’s initial Gates comment is one of the few “authentic” things he’s said, but not that his assessment was accurate or true. And I agree that most black people, regardless of class or status, would agree with Obama’s assessment and be just as wrong as he.

      • I don’t want this thread to turn into a Gates discussion, so I’ll be moderating with that in mind. It’s relevant in a sense, but I don’t want the thread to get highjacked. I seriously wanted to get people’s response to the “authenticity” issue–in the existential sense that I describe in the post.

      • How would you know? Do you have any experience with the the attitude with which they call you “Ma’am,” or “Sir,” with their hands on their guns as they call for backup as you comply with their orders?

        Are you a cop?

        • I’m not sure how Ellis would know what “most” black people think either. How could anyone know that?

    • I seem to get the strongest feeling of inauthenticity when Obama tries to be “folksy” and tell jokes. Maybe it’s that I can’t imagine him ever being self-deprecating. He’s just too narcissistic.

    • ITA. Obama’s Gates comment is the only thing that has come out of that man’s mouth that made me stand up and listen (and say yes!). But then he had to go and backtrack on it.

    • oh boo hoo… white people get treated the same when they act like self important jackasses with the cops. Gates was an ass and thought he deserved special treatment. “Do you know who I am?”
      Like it or not, Police need some amount of cooperation to be able to do their jobs effectively.

  4. Cinie,

    I definitely agree with you about the Gates thing. I thought Obama’s first comment on that was genuine too. But every time he says something genuine, he ends up backing down.

  5. I think much of his inauthenticity comes from the fact that he is a stranger in a strange land. He lived his early childhood in a very foreign land and culture. He never learned the language in Indonesia. And when he returned to Hawaii he never really fit in there. He missed a good part of the American culture while he lived away. He thinks of himself as white but people see him as black. He married a black woman to try and fit in. I never had the feeling he is in love. He married her hoping it would change. he is going thru the motions and has sold himself to the highest bidder. That will eliminate any hint of authenticity. He is an empty suit. His mouth, his mind, and his soul don’t ever synch up. He goes thru the motions. He no more cares about health care reform than he cares about this country. He has no stake in this country. I really think he shows why there is a requirement for a natural born citizen with no allegiances to any other country or continent. I think he has conflicted allegiences.

    • Those are excellent points. I think you’re right that he feels like a kind of outsider–he isn’t really *black,* and he’s not really part of the elite. And the part of his background that really made him what he is–his mother and her family–seems to be a part of him that he just doesn’t want to own.

      But Obama is a natural born citizen, so that part of your comment is irrelevant. Please don’t carry on with that, OK?

      • I read that a different way bb. It seemed to me that alibe was not saying he was not “natural born”. The point was that regardless of his birth he has not had much of an American childhood, adolescence or even early adulthood. So he does not seem to fit in. And being “of this country” having those life experiences, is important to being at the head of this government.

        • Yes, I agree with that. He did miss out on a lot–especially an experience of being black. And he is still struggling to find that identity. He seems to embrace his white identity–the part that fits in with the elites–but yet he rejects his mother and her family and identifies with a father he never knew.

    • On the contrary, outsiders can be very authentic.
      But if we are going the armchair shrink route, I would suggest that it’s not the not-fitting-in that causes a problem so much as the never been loved for oneself. I agree with the empty suit going through the motions.

      • And in this vein, he was obviously given lots of strokes for speaking well somewhere along the way, and that became his ticket to belonging–even if it is just a show. He describes it as a “gift.” He knew that he just had to play the part, like any smooth talking con, and most people would not see beyond the surface artifice.

        I can’t understand it, because when someone is so studied like that with no detailed grounding, my warning bells go off immediately. I still can’t believe people don’t see it with him.

  6. His “catlike” (my apologies to felines everywhere) persona is all part of a character he’s playing. But he can’t override instinct 100%. It causes the cognitive dissonance you feel.

  7. BB: I think it is simpler than you think and more complex than you can imagine. You experience him as inauthentic because he is; he is inauthentic because………………..(that’s the complex part).

    • That’s the part I’d really like to understand. What’s really wrong with this guy?

      • I’ll bet somebody will write that book. I probably will not buy it.

        • Maybe I’ll write it. “Obama on the Couch.” Oh wait that was used already with Bush. How about, Who the hell is Barack Obama?

      • I’m guessing that if you met him in person he would charm your socks off. But when he’s up on stage it’s like you (and the rest of us who don’t worship him) are watching him from the side and can see he’s wearing a mask.

        Recovering addicts and alcoholics understand masks.

        • Well, I’m a recovering addict and alcoholic, and you’re right we do tend to recognize people who are trying to fake being OK.

  8. None of the presidential candidates had a Greek Temple as a backdrop for his acceptance speech. None felt he had to take the crowd to Germany for one of his deadly wonderful speeches. None that I remember had to show off his numbers of supporters, and how great he is, by speaking in a park with the camera spanning the crowd of 75,000.

    None quantified the number of fans at his/her stops during their campaigns repeatedly. Few have had such a thin resume that they had to counter-balance with deceptive tactics for the cameras.

    All to show his popularity, but not his capability in real terms. He comes across to you as inauthentic because he has played on his persona and his huge ego to obscure how false his claims are that he can lead, preside, decide. He presented an image and people decided he was the one without any substantive reason other than wanting to believe this man was the winner they’d been looking for.

    He’s a scam artist and you see through the curtain.

  9. He reminds me of Eddie Haskell.

    The “authentic” Obama is the snotty asshole we saw during the campaign calling women “sweetie” and being rude to people.

    • yes.

    • Yes, I think you’re right. He’s the guy who said Hillary had her claws out and she “periodically” gets moody and worries about her looks. And the guy who gave her the finger and brushed her off his shoulders and shoes. That Barack Obama feels genuine to me.

    • Bingo! Right on the money. And the guy who gave the disguised middle digit and the shoulder brush and perpetrated a whisper campaign to make the Clintons racist and stole votes and gamed the primary process—-yep, that would be the real Barry.

    • Yes, and also the guy who gets really peevish and irritable when he is challenged and exposed. He hates that.

      • Remember how he would repeatedly lift his finger to interrupt her when she was scoring a strong debate point and revealing his weaknesses and deception? He practically snarled at her.

  10. Note: Obama is turning to Biden for direction and strategy in Afghan/Pak.

    Should we laugh or should we start the immigration process?

    • Joe Biden is actually pretty smart. His problem is he has a tendency to let his mouth run without his brain engaged.

      • He’s a bit of an old-style bigot & chauvinist too, but it is more unexamined white male entitlement than actual hostility; in other words, I find him much more tolerable than BO’s crew.

      • Leslie Gelb is pretty smart. Joe Biden tends to take ideas from Gelb and then hose them up. There’s a bit of difference.

  11. BB:

    I have the same problem. I have never been able to get either his authenticity, nor his likability and his brilliance.

    Throughout the primaries, I kept asking what was wrong with me, seeing how people were swooning over him.

    My only consolation was that the same thing happened to me with George Bush. I always screamed “NO HE’S NOT!” when people told me how authentic and likable he was. (We know who got the last word on that one anbd I’m fully confident that I’ll keep my streak going)

    • The authentic G-Dub is a snotty asshole too.

      • Yes, but he’s OK with being a snotty asshole. That’s the difference.

        Obama seems uncomfortable in his own skin. He wants people to see him as FDR without actually doing the work of standing up for what’s right.

        • He’s like a bl*ck hole for attention — he needs so much attention, all the time.

          • He’s a blank screen people project themselves onto – when nobody else is there he doesn’t exist.

          • That’s the NPD. They have to have their “supply” of adulation all the time or they freak out.

          • it pissed me off that the letterman show with him on it the other night won its time slot and was the best night ever for letterman….they are both asshats.

            why in the hell were people watching that? hoping he would insult challenged kids again?

        • Did you read his first book? You’ll realize that he spent so much time looking for his place and looking for the right people to hang out with.

          He is really somebody who tries hard to please everyone and he gets lost somewhere between the different persons he’s trying to be.

          • Yes, I agree with that. I read parts of the first book, but I really had a hard time with it. I read the other one.

          • The first book give you a better insight into his person, especially his struggles to find his place.

  12. Because he is?

    From the beginning of his campaign I couldn’t figure out who he was or what he stood for. When I asked his supporters, they all said different things about what he was going to do in office. They didn’t care – he spoke for their generation (and how does a 47-yr-old man manage to become an honorary 20-yr-old? Answer: for having done nothing of any substance in his adult life; he might as well be 20).

    Then there were all the lies. How many promises has he thrown out in 9 months?

    I’d better stop before I work myself up. I’ll just say, trust your gut. Our unconscious minds know a lot.

    • Oh I did trust my gut. But he doesn’t even really get me angry anymore. I just feel uncomfortable when I hear him talk. I’ve accepted that we’re stuck with him and we’re going to just have to survive another terrible presidency.

      I used to get angry when I watched or listened to Bush–really angry. With Obama, I get this uncomfortable, embarrassed-for-him feeling.

      • bb, you’ve got me beat then. I still get pretty angry which is why I never watch him. hmmm, maybe I wouldn’t get that angry now?

        • Me too. Still can’t watch him without getting angry.

        • I really don’t watch him either. Maybe that’s why I stopped getting angry. The only times I hear him it’s by accident.

          • I just find him really boring. He never says anything of substance so he just doesn’t hold my attention very long.

            He reminds me of some one who was raised in a prep school and was very insecure about his environs and has learned to hide himself well. I find him to be more of a chameleon. I ‘m not a shrink but I think his coping mechanisms are just to fit in where ever he goes so his patois changes with the audience. That’s why I don’t get a read from him emotionally. I think he’s learned to bury that really deep… probably because of abandonment issues. But, damn it jim, I’m an economist and not a shrink! so, that’s not worth much more than any other uninformed opinion.

  13. ANSWER: Because you’re a good judge of character.

    Next question?

  14. When you consider his childhood and dysfunctional family upbringing, how could he not have a personality disorder? He’s an egotist and a poseur who wants everyone to like him, who wants to please everyone–he has no core. Rev. Wright was a father figure whom he tossed under the bus when he became inconvenient. He’s a user and a manipulator who will lie with the greatest of ease.

    I blame the media for not doing its job and for promoting him. They made themselves his whores and will continue to prop him up and cloak him. Count on it. The MSM has lost credibility with the majority of Americans and have no one to blame but themselves. And yet they’re so smug, pretending to be neutral and objective yet any child can see through their facade. At least politicians have to answer for their sins–they can get tossed out of office, lose elections. But the media is impervious and immovable and answers to no one.

    • I’m just trying to understand this uneasy feeling I have. I don’t question that Obama is dishonest. But you can be dishonest and still be true to your sense of self–if that’s who you are and you’re OK with it.

    • My newest description of the Great Zero, and the Democratic Party, is The Milquetoast Middle.

      And I’m really PO’d that the rightwing is managing to move the goalposts by branding Obama as “liberal,” “socialist,” and “radical.” Seriously, we’re left with only the Milquetoast Middle to the Extreme Right. The entire left wing has been disappeared. We do not exist.

  15. When he tries to be close to something they think he is, he really isn’t. That’s my take.

  16. He doesn’t have any principles.

    • He know what principles are and pretends (or even believes) that he has them.

      But like all true sociopaths he will not hesitate to discard them if they conflict with his immediate goals and desires.

      • sociopath

        That word isn’t used enough when speaking of Shrub and Barry. Being a sociopath is actually a requirement for the modern PTOUS as far as the powers that be are concerned. The ” winner ” have to be dead inside to anyones else’s position or plight, or they don’t get to the oval office. Bill was their last slip up. The upper crust thought Bush the elder would keep that 90% approval and walk back in…also thank you Ross Perot for running in ’92

  17. Simple. No existencial philosophy needed. Obama is just a plain phony.

  18. From another angle, I understand “inauthenticity” from the perspective of someone who has lived with someone who has Aspergers. One of the hallmarks for girls is that they mimic others. It’s the only way they can function because they can’t naturally relate and empathize. My daughter can’t read faces or body language and so she mimics whoever she is with — it’s her way of “blending in.”

    Conceptually, it’s the same thing. She does have to “fake it” to fit in. So, if one does not have the inner grasp of the dynamics of human interaction, they have to “fake it.” Again, you’re feeling cognitive dissonance as a result.

    People do call him “spock-like.” That’s a hallmark for males with the syndrome.

    • Interesting. I don’t think he could have Asperger’s though. He seems very social. On the other hand, he doesn’t quite seem to “get” other people.

      • As you say he “seems very social” — but is he?

        There are varying degrees and manifestations. The major common factors are inability to see beyond logic (i.e., they don’t get jokes, have to fake it); Don’t understand empathy or able to “feel” another persons pain. Unclear about the way to communicate with peers. Girls therefore mimic, and boys tend to be “awkward” (could the embarrassment you feel be from his awkwardness?)

        • That’s interesting, SoD. I do find him awkward. I think that’s part of what makes me uncomfortable listening to him. He just feels “off” in some way.

        • and I would agree he’s not classically “awkward”

          • From what you describe it sounds like someone with Aspergers could learn to tell jokes very well but would have problems being spontaneously funny.

          • That’s true. They can’t just be spontaneous about it.

          • Obama is basically coreless, condemned to forever be a lightweight. There really is no there, there, nothing and no one for which he would risk all (except himself). He’s just not the kind of guy you’d entrust with your deepest, darkest secrets, as they would be potential grist for his self-serving mill. He’s also not the kind of guy you’d really enjoy having over to your house for dinner. (“Okay, who wants to sit next to our classic conversation killer?”) The scariest thing about having this sort of personality in the White House is Obama’s inability to learn, to grow and change. His utter self absorption prevents his forming any sort of world view, any personal philosophy. He wasn’t prepared for the presidential office when he entered it., nor will he be when he leaves it. Though the entire country will pay mightily for Obama’s shortcomings, he never will.

    • Excellent analogy SOD. I used the word mimic too, because that is always the feeling I have had about his speeches. He watched footage of MLK, RFK, JFK & Wright in person and borrowed from all of them, but it never felt/feels to me like it is coming from his own voice, his own core self, like it did with them (not including Wright in this esteemed oratory however)–especially MLK Jr. who shook the earth when he spoke.

  19. I also cringe when ever I see or hear him.
    And I always wonder which fake accent I’m going to get…the professor, the preacher, the folksy guy, the stern parent. I was listening to NPR the other day (don’t usually they’re such Obots) and they were playing audio of BO from a couple of years ago and THAT guy’s voice was quite nice and likeable…. he didn’t sound anything like he does today. and the tape was maybe 3-4 years ago. wtf?

  20. If you have seen his early pictures, one has to wonder about his sexuality. I have always presumed he is a closeted gay man. The facts of his youth and roommates and a few other clues make me a bit suspicious. And if you know closeted gay men you know they spent alot of their lives being somebody they aren’t. Drug abuse is often in the picture. Maybe Larry Sinclair knows more than people want to believe. This closet leads people to be less than authentic. It is why there is such a need for most to come out. Living a lie is not in the psyche’s best interest. 0bama is living a lie. Just what that lie is, we are not sure. Nobody wants to pull that curtain back.

    • Actually, I’ve wondered about that too, because I don’t get any sense of sexual energy from him. He seems asexual. But a lot of women seem to think differently.

    • 0bama is living a lie. Just what that lie is, we are not sure. Nobody wants to pull that curtain back.

      That really makes sense to me. I think so many people in the media and in the upper crust want to like him *because* he’s black–so they can feel good about how very egalitarian they are. But he’s really only acceptable to them because he’s so “white.”

      None of them really want to explore who Obama really is or why they “like” him.

    • when I was young and really really didn’t want to be gay… I was so angry. He strikes me as angry. And if I were to have empathy for him, which I’ll try to…he has alot to be angry about re: his childhood. But everyone makes choices. He could have chosen to be a decent attorney rather than a lying politician who would never be accepted as gay.

    • Nobody wants to pull that curtain back.

      Sounds like a job for O’Keefe & Giles! (The acorn sting-ers).

    • I think he might not be gay, but probably played in that playground a bit, so maybe bisexual and I suspect that he suffered some sexual abuse as a child, so there may be some unresolved shame/guilt stuff going on

      • That is another scenario. Sexual abuse does lead one into a split. His personality disorder could be a result of abuse. Although I do believe he has mostly abandonment issues big time and has played in that gay arena (we are not sure if that is his arena of choice). And we know he has used drugs. And why did he feel the need to anesthetize himself?
        He ain’t what he tries to project. He ain’t cool, calm, brilliant and caring. Scary! It is going to be a horrible time for us. His disconnect will most likely lead to disaster.

        • One of the comments at that american thinker article sited (warning gop) listed the text of a poem BO wrote in high school about his grandfather. (disturbing, imo, I boled the bits others have cited)


          Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken
          In, sprinkled with ashes,
          Pop switches channels, takes another
          Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks
          What to do with me, a green young man
          Who fails to consider the
          Flim and flam of the world, since
          Things have been easy for me;
          I stare hard at his face, a stare
          That deflects off his brow;
          I’m sure he’s unaware of his
          Dark, watery eyes, that
          Glance in different directions,
          And his slow, unwelcome twitches,
          Fail to pass.
          I listen, nod,
          Listen, open, till I cling to his pale,
          Beige T-shirt, yelling,
          Yelling in his ears, that hang
          With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling
          His joke, so I ask why
          He’s so unhappy, to which he replies . . .
          But I don’t care anymore, cause
          He took too damn long, and from
          Under my seat, I pull out the
          Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing,
          Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face
          To mine, as he grows small,
          A spot in my brain, something
          That may be squeezed out, like a
          Watermelon seed between
          Two fingers.
          Pop takes another shot, neat,
          Points out the same amber
          Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine and
          Makes me smell his smell, coming
          From me;
          he switches channels, recites an old poem
          He wrote before his mother died,
          Stands, shouts, and asks
          For a hug, as I shink, my
          Arms barely reaching around
          His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ’cause
          I see my face, framed within
          Pop’s black-framed glasses
          And know he’s laughing too.

          — Barack Obama

  21. I think some of it may come from the style of his speaking. He pauses alot and seems to speak slowly as if weighing and measuring every word.

    I actually feel bad for the guy because at the rate he is going if he doesn’t get some accomplishments under his belt he’s going to be a one term wonder and his legacy will be nothing but speeches and an economic policy that comes off a t best as a mixed bag.

    If he doesn’t know who he is , he needs to find out real fast.

    • umm ~ I would be ecstatic if he were a one termer…

      gets us four years closer to rebuilding a liberal democratic party

      • The rebuilding a liberal party would be nice. It’s the being governed by the GOP(you know the people who have brought us to the miserable point we are at now)that I have concerns about.

    • I agree, cwaltz. I actually feel bad for him at times too, until I remind myself of all the damage he’s doing with his stupid Afghanistan policy and his horrible “health care” plan.

      • Have you figured out his health care plan because I’m not certain he has one yet? He just keeps tossing stuff out there. One day he says he wants a public option, the next he says it isn’t important. Back and forth and round and round he goes.

        As for his Afghan policy it wouldn’t have been awful if we a) had the resources for it or b) time existed in a vacumn and we could get a do over and have targeted our resources on Afghanistan as we needed to do from the get go. Unfortunately, neither of those are options open to us. Our own country is a disaster. What in the owrld made him think we could redo theirs?

        • No, I haven’t. I just know he has no plan other than what his big campaign donors want.

          • Well, I honestly think he would toss those donors under the bus if he thought that he would be unable to get away with what they are asking. It’s why I am pushing on health care. I think as long as a good majority of the public supports some sort of public option he’s left continuing to throw things out there in an effort to find something stickable. We shall see though.

        • cw,

          I agree about the do over on Afghanistan, especially because of its relationship with Pakistan. I don’t think he owns the situation in the same way that I don’t think he fully owns the economic situation. Further, I don’t how much wiggle room any of the candidates would have on increasing troop numbers on that NATO mission. Regardless of who was president now, I do not envy that person in this situation, especially because of what it means for so many other people.

          I think the situation is becoming Gordian and Alexanders are rare.

  22. “Why do I experience Barack Obama as so inauthentic?”

    Because he doesn’t speak from the heart and show passion for the issues he cares about. You can watch interviews of other politicians and you get the impression that they care deeply about what they are saying, they are emotionally connected to what’s coming out of their mouth. Ask them a question and they will respond based on their beliefs and feelings, even if it’s an issue you disagree with them on.

    I geninely believe that Obama has no idea what he believes in, or how he feels about things. For him it’s just words. He simply reads soaring rhetoric off a teleprompter. The clutch is not engaged.

    • It’s true. I’ve never seen him show any real passion.

      • the time I noticed the passionlessness was during the Kennedy funeral… I thought it was quite the contrast with Ted’s kids speaking and then Obama – especially the first few minutes Obama spoke… I found that very striking – and like you, I’m not quite sure what it is that struck me… but my reaction was “ugh! I hope I never find it necessary to be so very cool and without feeling”.

        “icky” would be the word I would use to describe his apparent disconnect.

    • So do I. I’ve heard that he and Axelrod talk a lot about not ruining his “brand.” That tells me they literally created who he would project that he is, while who he really is, is something else.

      His “BRAND.” What the hell is that, except fake?

    • The only thing I think he may be interested in is ensuring that as many people “like” him as possible. He shifts on positions routinely depending on who his audience is.

    • He wants to “win” for the sake of winning.

  23. Ahmadinejad is speaking

  24. Similar to yttik’s comments, I was thinking that there are so many gaps in his American experience that he has had to be scripted by Axelrod and his handlers from the beginning. He did poorly, by showing too much of his real self, when he mingled with the people; such as the arugal, waffles, not ordering a philly steak at the Philadelphia market, “sweetie” comments and his 37 bowling score. He’s operates from two places: the ego and the intellect.

    He has had to learn to “fit in” most of his life. I think he’s built an act and played upon his intelligent black man advantage (for whites) and won over the Kennedy’s, the dems, the media, young people — one by one.

    Voters believed his portrayal of a president, but he should have won an oscar, not the presidency.

  25. Obama adopts a personality most pleasing to the persons closest to him at any given time so he will be further admired and bask in the glow of that admiration. He is a mirror, nothing more, and like any reflection lacks actual substance.

    • I agree – I believe this is called a “bargaining personality”. Or a bargainer.

      He has no core – just a windsock.

  26. Barack Obama gives me the creeps. I am sure he is a narcissist.
    from wiki:
    “The narcissist is described as turning inward for gratification rather than depending on others and as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige.[2] Narcissistic personality disorder is closely linked to self-centeredness. It is also colloquially referred to as “the God complex.”

    No authenticity is possible from this man.

    Sad really.

    • Theres a woman who used to be a liberal and is now a conservative who is also a psychotherapist. This is what she’s said:

      His grandpa, Stanley, sounded like he had a few screws loose. He was likely damaged goods from his hellish childhood. First, his dad abandoned the family. When Stanley was 8, he discovered the dead body of his mother, who had committed suicide. He was shipped off to his grandparents and got himself expelled from school for punching the principal.

      Stanley drifted along himself, eventually joined the military, and married Madelyn. He was disappointed when she produced a baby girl (Obama’s mother) rather than a son. In a bizarre and grandiose act, he named her “Stanley.” Sick and tired of getting grief for her name, Stanley ended up going by her middle name, Ann.

      Stanley and Madelyn raised Obama from around age l0 through high school. Stanley, an impulsive and hard drinking man, made one of the most twisted of parental decisions — to have Barry mentored by the elderly Frank Marshall Davis, purportedly a Communist who worked on behalf of the Soviet Union; a pedophile who wrote a book entitled “Sex Rebel: Black,” an alcoholic, a racist, and a misogynist.

      Well regarded bloggers have raised the provocative question about whether Davis violated Obama, perhaps by molesting him. (Read Obama’s college era poem Pop, especially the lines, “Pop. . . points out the same amber stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and makes me smell his smell, coming from me,” and see what you think.)

      Obama himself has said, in his autobiography, that “Frank” made him feel uncomfortable. Grandpa Stanley and Davis would sit around getting loaded, talking trash about women, and making up smutty limericks.

      Whether Davis sexually abused Obama or not, Davis made a lasting impression on his young psyche. Davis blamed racism and capitalism for all of the problems in society and instructed young Barry, “Don’t fully trust white people,” and “Black people have a reason to hate.”

      Obama’s identity was ever in flux until he linked up with Davis. Now he had beliefs he could wrap his mind around — rage at the system. Obama apparently became filled with resentment and anger even though he lived a privileged life in Hawaii.

      As an adult, Obama sought out other people who reinforced and hardened this world view: black nationalists, like Rev. Wright; 60’s terrorists, such as Bill Ayers; wife Michelle, who never felt pride in this country, regardless of a Princeton education, cushy attorney jobs, and a million dollar mansion. Chillingly, some of these people, like Rev. Wright, anointed Obama a messiah, which may have only magnified Obama’s false pride and delusions of grandeur.

      Obama could have gone down one of two roads. One was to face the truth about his life, regardless of the shame, hurt, and grief this would evoke. But Obama chose another path, the one that allowed him to save face; he made the personal political.

      Interesting thoughts

      • I’m more inclined to view Obama’s behavior to try to determine who he is than study his life in order to figure out why he is that way.

      • I thought that scene from Obama’s book where Grampa explains Granny is a racist was really sick and emotionally manipulative. Grampa never says “Granny told me she was scared because the guy was black,” he says “Granny was scared because the guy was black.” I’m envisioning her saying she was scared because a guy was bugging her, and instead of being empathetic, he grills her until he finds out the guy’s race and then runs to tell his grandson “oh, I’m so upset, I am shaking with rage, Granny is evil.” like the poor kid needs to get involved in his gps’ psychosis. If Granny really was afraid of black men, god how awful for the poor kid, plus Dealing with all Grandpa’s issues on top of it–yikes.

        • I mean, if you feel your wife has a problem with people of a different race, take her to counseling with a professional, don’t dump it on a 12 year old. Boundaries.

          • Sounds like they didn’t have any at all. It is a good thing not to judge someone by their family background because no matter how bad it is, it can be overcome (or it can really launch you into success). BUT in his case, the man’s whole background is, to put it kindly, wacky. It is a wildly dysfunctional upbringing and it makes a lot of sense of the way he operates as a kind of empty suit persona.

      • Thanks for the link. The whole article was interesting.

    • The original is here:


      I love her one line

      Now as a newbie conservative, I have a long way to go to herald myself as an expert on conservatism, neoconservatism, paleoconservatism (whatever that is), and the like.

      But one thing I do know is crazy — and that’s not just because I’ve been a licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years.

  27. I haven’t read the other comments yet, but I just want to jump in and say that IMO Obama is a phony. I knew it the first time I saw him debate. It doesn’t matter “why” you experience that, but it certainly isn’t only you. I have come to dislike him intensely because of his insincerity, not the other way around. Once my instincts picked this up, the first time I saw him at the Dem debate, research and observation only continued to confirm his intrinsic dishonesty. The way I see it: everything he does is calculated to advance his own image. He is not grounded in a core self–it is all based on a grandiose sense of self that he has to constantly feed and promote. His comment that he is a blank slate upon which people project their own fantasies and desires illustrates this. His speeches always strike me as contrived mimicry of other great orators from the past, who were speaking from their core principles, as if he watched a bunch of news reel and practiced in front of a mirror. His “casual” joking persona irks me even more, because it’s so condescending and self-satisfied. As you can see, my distaste has not mellowed at all. The intensity of it is informed by the deliberate fraud he used to get himself elected, and the consequences we all have to bear.

    • I know this is lazy, but ditto.
      Thank you for articulating my feelings precisely.

    • I must ditto too.

      The question is not why do we experience B0 as inauthentic, but why don’t more people know he’s inauthentic, untrustworthy, scheming, manipulative, selfish, and callous? More to the point — he has no record of achievements behind him, despite how he talks. THAT was enough for me.

      No, my antipathy has if anything grown worse, as he shows himself to be so much worse than I thought.

  28. As Shrub denied the country the better presidency of Al Gore, so has the image that is Obama denied us the presidency of Hillary Clinton.

    Although I have him tuned out, I do wish that when he delivers one of his talk downs to us “groundlings” that seep into the background noise, he didn’t sound so clipped and so bored.

  29. Not all information comes to us in the usual channels. Sometimes it is very difficult to know how we know something, but there are times when that sense of knowing something is so overwhelming it cannot be denied, at least to ourselves. We may not discuss it with other when we don’t the acceptable evidence, but we still know it. In Obama’s case I believe we do have the evidence, but I also know what is even bigger is this sense of knowing that has been riveting since I first became aware of him. I have come to think it is almost psychic, a premonition. I can almost see disastrous scenes ahead – I mean really see them. It is stronger than anything along these lines, that I have ever experienced and I think there are a mass of us that are experiencing it. Maybe partly because so much of the movement pulling away from him is women? It is true that the Hillary situation drew my attention to him and caused me to see him in a way I might have missed otherwise. I never studied any election so closely and the more I looked the more I saw. It is impossible to un-see what we have seen. I do keep hoping he will find a way to authentically fill the suit he has been parading in for so long.

  30. “Jarrett’s shared experience with the Obamas is about race — and on a deeper level, about the coexistence, in the post-King African-American psyche, of conscience and ambition, activism and accommodation. Their identity rests on that fulcrum; it is, as Barack Obama would say, who they are. ‘I think the thing that’s important to the president and the first lady is this whole notion of authenticity,’ says Martin Nesbitt, a Chicago parking-lot entrepreneur whose closeness to Barack Obama rivals that of Jarrett. ‘And knowing them as well and being as close a friend as she is, Valerie’s always there to say: “Yeah, but you know what? That’s not you. You wouldn’t say that. Somebody else is saying that. Barack Obama wouldn’t say that.” ‘ ” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/magazine/26jarrett-t.html?pagewanted=print)

    The notion of authenticity.

    Jarrett has to tell him who he is for public consumption.

    He says who he is, and she says, no, that’s not you.

    No wonder he’s confused.

    Hey, deniseb, this is great: “(and how does a 47-yr-old man manage to become an honorary 20-yr-old? Answer: for having done nothing of any substance in his adult life; he might as well be 20)”

  31. I saw a showing of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog in Manhattan on Monday, and it just hit me-Obama is Captain Hammer!

  32. Quite a few years ago I read the book, “A Girl Called Sooner” In the book the girl kills her beloved pet bird because she is desperate to impress the other children. Barack Obama reminds me of the girl in the book. He is desperate to impress, so he is a different person with different people.

  33. I am going to post this even though I am late to the game.

    This topic interests me also. First I just thought Obama lacked experience, then I started to think he was a jerk. I cannot watch him. It isn’t anger. It is like embarrassment – that he is in this position of authority – for him and for us, except I don’t care about him. It’s like he is a kid trying to act the part. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    I also thought from early on that he had a personality disorder. But, I don’t think that really answers the question.

    I have met people and instantly known what they really were. It was usually something very small that would tip me off. Eventually I am proven correct, but it can take years to reveal itself. My friends trust my judgment, but it is almost like a burden sometimes.

    Part of the problem is that people want to be in with the group, so they are willing to see things in the ‘accepted’

    The question I think bb is asking is – why do some people see it and others do not. I think there is no doubt he is inauthentic. Maybe we do not accept that people are who they say they are, and decide for ourselves instead. It takes a certain willingness to go against the ‘crowd’, to trust your own perception, to not need to be liked by everyone.

    btw, I could not stand Bush the first time I saw him. Maybe because I was familiar with the presumptuous, arrogant frat boy type.

  34. Obama reminds me of a Disney animatronic version of an actual president.

    • I saw old Abe back in the day at D-Land in Anaheim and he had more depth and gravitas.

    • I was supposed to tell you something . . . about . . .you having fart-breath . . .

      No, it was somebody WITH fart-breath . . .

      . . .and they were wanking . . . or spanking . . . their sister . . .had a blister . . .on the lump post . . .or sump coast . . .

      I don’t remember.

    • I sOmetimes think he would make a good Head of State if we could divide that from Head of Government. But then I remember that he has a tendency toward being rude and insulting people.

      • Kinda like Queen Lizzie vs. Gordon Brown?

        That would make Nancy Pelousy the boss.

        • No, because King is a permanent job and we’d still have to listen to him on official occasions. Like one of those countries where they have a PM but elect a ceremonial ribbon cutter to a 2 year term.

  35. it’s late and i need to work tomorrow. a real ball buster week (if i had em) and i’m on a furlough on friday.

    so, i haven’t read the above, but my take is that he lacks leadership skills, credibility and vision. my town is full of progressive pols and the ones i like and have come to respect the most, while not necessarily agreeing with them, are the ones that are consistent and you know where they stand and what they stand for. look at obama and the medical insurance reform debacle…where does he stand and why has it taken so much talking to get a few snippets. where does he stand on iran and israel? where does he stand on afganistan? i would have hoped he would have had a clear picture of what his position would be on these countries in respect t to the u.s. he wants to everything to everyone and that is how he has skated by so far.

  36. To me, there’s nothing mysterious here. Absolutely classic NPD. Empty inside. It’s all about the image in the mirror – how you’re reflected back by others.

    Lots of people are narcissistic to various degrees. But dealing with someone with true NPD can be a strange experience. Some people experience it as disconcerting and inauthentic; others seem to experience fusion and charisma.

  37. I was just skimming through the comments. Really appreciated myiq2xu’s comment “Recovering addicts and alcoholics understand masks”.

  38. in order to be authentic you need values/believes to be authentic too. he does not seem to have these. nothing in his track record indicates any strong commitments and that’s why he shifts so around on issues. as he has no strong believes, he says what he thinks people want to hear, coming across unauthentic. In addition, I believe he is emotionally cold/lacks empathy, hence he is only concerned with himself.

  39. I’m coming in late on this too but I can’t help but add my two cents.
    I agree with many posters above that he either has some kind of personality disorder or he is the product of a very dysfunctional childhood.
    He never stood back and tried to examine himself. Like someone up above said, he should be on the couch, not in the oval office. I think there’s just nothing there. There’s nothing inside of him. It’s not someone who feels a lot but tries to cover it up by being sarcastic or acting like they don’t have feelings- I’ve met a lot of those.
    The weird thing is that Obama has to fake feelings. I’ve also met sociopaths, and a good judge of character can spot one pretty easily. They seem like normal people if you don’t observe them very much, but if you’re paying attention you can see that there’s nothing beneath the surface. They have dead eyes.
    I agree with all of the comments above. It’s all certainly very interesting.

  40. Obama is Telegenic, taken to its absurdly bland extreme. Or maybe it’s not the extreme yet. At the rate things are going, we might end up with a sims character running for president some day.

  41. Great post bostonboomer, my sister and I have had this same conversation probably once a week for the past two years. Though not as eloquently as you’ve expressed it. Great comments too.

    I ,too, gotta go back to his childhood on this one… no stability, no real center. It’s almost as if he has had to fake it since he came out of the womb.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself
    “What am I not seeing that everyone else is?”

  42. If I could give Obama one piece of advice, it would be lifted from my kids school calendar about self-esteem: “Feelings follow actions. If you want to feel good about yourself, do something you can be proud of.”
    Very simple, isn’t it?

  43. If you caught Bill Clinton on Letterman the next night, the difference was pretty striking. He spoke passionately, knowledgeably and to the point. And spoke in a relaxed way, to Letterman as if he were an equal. Obama sounded like he was lecturing when he spoke, and I find that he always talks *around* the issues, rarely giving specifics, as if to do so would make it easier to pin him down or something. Rhetorically, I find him untrustworthy. And lately Obama sounds as if he’s scolding everyone. I resent that very much. He’s getting more and more sanctimonious. Not cool. And why does everyone praise his speeches so much? Is it that he speaks in sentences, rather than Bush-type gibberish? Well that’s not enough – after a speech of his, I come away with no new information, he communicates nothing. So his combo of empty self-righteousness ends up coming off untrustworthy. I don’t like it! I’m looking to him, and I’m not comfortable with connecting the dots with what I WANT to believe, like so many of my friends lately. Just because you want him to have said something, it doesn’t mean he actually said it!!! argh.

  44. Obama’s entire narrative is sketchy and false. Of course, he seem inauthentic. He’s a construction.

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