April 27, 2008

"I don't get too high when I'm high, and I don't get too low when I'm low."

That's Barack Obama, on "Fox News Sunday," responding to the prompt: "What have you learned about running for President? What have you learned about yourself?" He says: "I've learned that I have what I believe is the right temperament for the presidency."

Here's the video of the show in 5 parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The quote above is at the end of the last segment. [ADDED: Transcript.]

This point about his temperament is interesting. It seems to implicitly criticize the reputedly hotheaded McCain. It also puts a positive spin on a quality of his that I've been thinking of as: phlegmatic.

From the Wikipedia article on the four temperaments:
A phlegmatic person is calm and unemotional. Phlegmatic means "pertaining to phlegm", corresponds to the season of winter (wet and cold), and connotes the element of water.

While phlegmatics are generally self-content and kind, their shy personality can often inhibit enthusiasm in others and make themselves lazy and resistant to change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats. Like the sanguine personality, the phlegmatic has many friends. However the phlegmatic is more reliable and compassionate; these characteristics typically make the phlegmatic a more dependable friend.
Maybe that is the best temperament for a President.

McCain is choleric, right? Hillary too!
Choleric corresponds to the fluid of yellow bile, the season of summer (dry and hot), and the element of fire. A person who is choleric is a doer and a leader. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. On the negative side, they are easily angered or bad-tempered.
They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Uh oh!

32 comments:

rhhardin said...

Obama needs a hobby.

George said...

Instapundit links to a blog that asserts that Sen. Obama actually worked for Ayers for years...

"Barack also was essentially an employee of Bill Ayers for eight years.

In 1995, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created to raise funds to help reform the Chicago public schools. One of the architects of the Challenge was none other than Professor Bill Ayers. Ayers co-wrote the initial grant proposal and proudly lists himself on his own website as the co-founder of the Challenge.

And who did William Ayers, co-creator of the Challenge, help select as the new director of the board for this program? Barack Obama."

Notice how Obama defines Ayers in the Fox transcript:

"Mr. Ayres (sic) is a 60 plus year old individual who lives in my neighborhood, who did something that I deplore 40 years ago when I was six or seven years old. By the time I met him, he was a professor of education at the University of Illinois."

Oh, he's an old man, an old neighbor man and he did one bad thing when I was a baby. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last...

Meade said...

Maude - high, high; low,low

joe said...

Since Obama lacks the experience to be President, and his choice of friends and mentors shows that his judgment stinks, and his positions on the issues put him on the leftist fringe of opinion in this country, I guess the next point to try and sell this fraud to the rubes is to say he has the right temperament to be president. Pretty speechifying apparently is not enough.
Weak.

Chip Ahoy said...

Temperament. That's a quality dog breeders emphasize.

rhhardin said...

Even temperament means you sound equally good in any key.

Revenant said...

If I was a politician with a past history of cocaine use, I wouldn't go around saying "I don't get too high when I'm high".

Dody Jane said...

I just can't stop thinking that if this was a Republican candidate who served on a board with a former abortion clinic bomber who got off on a technicality, he would be long gone. I just can't shake that notion..

rcocean said...

Read the interview. Not good. This guy needs to attract Working class Catholics & this interview won't do it.

And he's not a lefty because while he voted against Roberts he defended Roberts on KOS. Didn't understand that.

John Stodder said...

I can't find the quote, but it was once said of FDR that he had "a third-class mind but a first-class temperament."

So maybe that's what Obama is alluding to.

I don't know if he's describing himself very accurately, however. The kind of person who could say of Hillary during a debate that she's "likable enough," could have no emotion regarding the radical terrorist tendencies of Mr. Ayers, who could sit in the pew and not feel some anger or at least embarrassment at Rev. Wright, and could coolly describe small-town Americans as "bitter" and "clinging to religion and guns" isn't merely someone with a calm temperament. He's a cold fish.

I look forward to the Obama/McCain debates. The contrast will be dramatic and entertaining. Will Obama come off as brittle and too cerebral when confronted with McCain's blend of passion and irony? Or will McCain come off as too combative and emotional in the face of Obama's ratinality.

I suspect that, unlike the '04 debates and more like the '00 debates, these debates will change minds. Opinion researchers will capture voters going from one candidate to the other.

That's why I think McCain is perhaps being oversensitive on purpose to the North Carolina ad. He wants a clear shot at Obama in the debate, and he wants to approach him with clean hands. Democrats always want to make Republican tactics a campaign issue. McCain wants that stuff off the table so he can make Obama the focus.

Kevin Hayden said...

If I was 46 and my drug use was in adolescence, I'd see no reason to avoid a message that's pretty clear: he neither gets depressed nor a fat head with the normal ups and downs of a political campaign.

As to the four temperaments, the article begins by noting it's a psychological theory.

His capacity to move a crowd, get them to contribute money, register, cross party lines and show up on election day certainly don't fit the square peg into the square hole defined.

I've worked in mental health settings and I've heard way too many theories.

Bullies can lead, but so can calmer heads prevail over a bully's bluster.

P. Rich said...

That four temperaments bit must have been written in an interlude between reading goat entrails for fun and profit and dancing naked under a full moon. Having a closet laugh on the yokels, Althouse?

As for Obama, if one were a little careless in assessing his demeanor, one might conclude he all-too-closely resembles a classic sociopath. It depends, I suppose, on which Obama one chooses to accept as the real one.

Given that Billary fits the description with little ambiguity, this would make for some interesting "my sociopath is better than your sociopath" discussion on the left, if the left were capable of it.

bearbee said...

Here is an interesting article PRESIDENTIAL TEMPERAMENT that labels 4 category of Presidents as Guardian, Idealist, Artisan and Rational.

Matching up with Wikipedia I ended with:
Guardian - Melancholic
Idealist - Sanguine
Artisan - Phlegmatic
Rational - Choleric

According to the article we have had no President in the Idealist category.

Cedarford said...

"What have you learned about running for President? What have you learned about yourself?" He says: "I've learned that I have what I believe is the right temperament for the presidency."

Naturally. The more Obama experiences the wonder that is Barack Obama, the higher his estimation of his abilities and temperment rises.

I am so happy Barack is impressed with himself and his realization along with his other gifts on display for his worshipful masses, he has also realized he has the "right temperment"!

Stodder - it was once said of FDR that he had "a third-class mind but a first-class temperament." Second class mind...1st class temperment. But that is something others said of FDR, because his aristocratic, but modest temperment barred him from ever touting his own "winning ways with men". Or describing his accomplishments as things other than what "We" did with him leading the effort. FDR also had a massive temper and people might get a pass for crossing him once, but never twice. But he remained modest in thinking his office was never a reward for the Greatness That He Was, but a position of trust he was tasked with doing his best at, despite his flaws and times when he blatantly BS'd the people - about neutrality, commitment to Negro visitors that he was going to fight the Southern Wing of the Party, etc. His modesty was real. His idea of a FDR memorial was a marble slab about the size of a dining room table that was low enough that Mall visitors could sit on it.

Naturally, after the over-the-top grandiose memorials other special interest groups foisted on DC, notably the grand Saint Martin National Memorial on top of all the other memorial crap and visitor's centers the Feds put up and fund in other cities to MLK - FDRs wishes are cast aside for some 150 million dollar Imperial Edifice Center in his name and glory he never wanted....

*******************
I don't think McCain is much of a debator. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were excellent in Republican debates, while McCain came across as old Mr. McCrabby taking pot shots, fumbling on issues, speaking John Kerry-style "Senate-speak" ("And I say, my good friend, that I have tirelessly worked to make those benefits a reality through legislation I co-sponsored that unfortunately failed..) and mumbling a lot.

If McCain faced Hillary, I'd expect she would get the better of him as smarter and better-informed. Obama? Could be as bad as Carter-Reagan where Reagan was the normal, authentic, red-blooded American vs. a sanctimonious prick. Which was more important than the wonkish details and "I care a lot!!" message Carter pushed.
*****************
Dody Jane said...
I just can't stop thinking that if this was a Republican candidate who served on a board with a former abortion clinic bomber who got off on a technicality, he would be long gone. I just can't shake that notion..


Not to defend Obama too much, but many people confuse being on a Board to joining a woman's lunch club of like-minded ladies or a guy's Rotary Club.
SErving on a few Town Boards, 2 Governor Task Forces, and one Corporate Board of a Small Asian business somehow thinking I was a suitable American lackey - I can tell you that there are Board members I disagree with on almost everything, those who I would never socialize with, some who I never physically met.

Guilt by Association for just being two people together on a Board is a bit much. However, Obama's Ayers association goes past that to socializing, being "friendly" as his campaign director put it, and Ayers actively working for Obama's political progress.

***************

Kirby Olson said...

I heard from someone who knew him in college that Obama was just a party-boy goof-off. Perhaps he's just another W. but this time a shill for the left.

People who don't believe in anything but a good time make good candidates because they can be anything to everybody, and have a decent sense of humor, to boot.

Not sure they make the best presidents.

Not sure they make the worst.

Perhaps American's time is now over, and we should pack our bags and prepare to be enclosed in a history book.

With nutcases like Ayers running the universities, and jerks with only money in mind running Hollywood and other institutions of meaning-making, including the New York City book companies, I don't see how American can survive.

It doesn't matter out of this final crew who wins.

They're all millionaire jerks -- even Ralph Nader.

Bad mood here, sorry if it rubs off.

Sloanasaurus said...

Naturally. The more Obama experiences the wonder that is Barack Obama, the higher his estimation of his abilities and temperment rises.

Cedar makes a great point here. There is no doubt that when Obama got into the race in early 2007, he never thought he would have a chance at winning because he had no experience. He was just doing it to get a national name for himself so maybe he could sell some more books or realistically run in 2016-2020 etc... But then when Obama started raising lots of money he was surrounded by people who wanted jobs, and Obama became their ticket. They started saying "yes you can," and "you know how to do it," and "don't worry about experience, we advisors will get you through..."

Obama has transplanted himself to a fantasy world.

former law student said...

I heard from someone who knew him in college

You associate with Oxy alumnae? The one that I know joined some friends to celebrate their passage from Matronhood to Cronedom a few years ago. Weird.

And I'm fairly sure that that Annenberg is a commie. Didn't he make his fortune publishing TV Guide and the Daily Racing Form? Both TV and horseracing have sapped the brains, spare cash, and moral strength of millions of Americans.

But things like HRC's asking for a "lincoln-douglas" debate makes me think she is the candidate to beat McCain. Obama is much more intelligent -- he's the one to deal with major world problems like the upcoming global famine -- but Hill has the animal cunning to deal with whatever the Republicans throw at her.

# 56 said...

Is he really the right guy to deal with an "upcoming global famine?"
Global supply is increasing, the threat is barriers to trade. Hoarding vs exporting, why on earth would anyone think he is suited to address that better than Hillary or McCain?

George said...

Remember political scientist James David Barber's "Presidential Character" analysis?

I think he would have put Sens. Obama and Clinton in the Negative Compulsive box and McCain in Adaptive Positive.

Middle Class Guy said...

Cholerics are doers and leaders...


Hillary has never done anything we can verify and she has nver led anything that we know of. But, from reports, we do know she has a temper!

Maguro said...

"Obama is much more intelligent -- he's the one to deal with major world problems like the upcoming global famine".

That's a good one. The current food shortage is largely due to the ethanol/biofuel boondoggle that Obama supports. Remove ethanol subsidies here and biofuel mandates in the EU and your food shortage takes care of itself.

Hmmm...who is the only candidate against ethanol subsidies? Hint: it's not super-genius Obama.

Sloanasaurus said...

Obama is much more intelligent -- he's the one to deal with major world problems like the upcoming global famine

How do we know Obama is more intelligent? What has he done to prove this? I haven't seen any of his college grades or his LSAT scores?

Mortimer Brezny said...

How do we know Obama is more intelligent? What has he done to prove this?

He seems to have broken the inscrutable code keeping black people from running the country.

Sir Archy said...

Causa latet; res est notissima.
            —Virgil

To Professor Althouse.

Madam,

As the Ghost of a Person dead these 250 Years and more,  who had seen enough of Bedlam, I may tell you than an Imbalance of Humours was ever at the Root of a Madman’s Distemper.  The four Humours would be balanc’d & temper’d in an healthy Person, whilst they should be distemper’d in a sick or mad one.

The Cause of a Lunacy has ever been sought, but ‘twas a Commonplace in my Day that an Imbalance could be the Effect of a Person’s own Actions.  Thus, the Cholera was held to be the Wage of Vice.  If we take it that Volition has some Influence upon the Balance of Humours, then Sen. Obama may make a double Claim:  That his Rational & Phlegmatick Temper is not only an Accident of Nature, but a Result of his own Virtue.

It may be said of Sen. Obama that additionally to his Virtue, we should hear the rare News of his Temperament, were not in his Favour.  A Person but little acquaint’d with Physick could warn Sen. Obama that his Phlegm would dry up under the Influence of such hot Emotions as could be caus’d by debating Sen. Clinton, hearing unpleasant Questions from News Scribblers, &c.

‘Twere to be wisht that Sen. Obama had less Phleghm and more Brains in his Head, for the Blows giv’n a President of the United States had driven many an Occupant of that Office near to Madness.  Those who survived it best had neither Phleghm nor Brains troubling their empty Heads; or they were those Men of Parts with a Superfluity of Brains, such as requir’d by their Strength of Reason.

Altho’ only a Ghostly Visitor, I hope for a President possess’d of both Strength & Reason, and remain ever pleas’d to assure you that I am,

Madam,

Your humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

Sir Archy said...

N.B.—

I should forbear to remark on any Physick of my Day to restore the Balance of Humours, except to note this Image of Mrs. Moore, the Actress much taken with Bleeding by Leeches as a Means of Cleansing the Blood, &c.

"Tis to be hoped that Sen. Obama does not need to make similar Resort to these Creatures to keep his Humours in Repair.

Sir Archy

former law student said...

The current food shortage is largely due to the ethanol/biofuel boondoggle that Obama supports.

I expect President Obama to realize he has a different constituency from Senator Obama (D-Cornland)

Remove ethanol subsidies here and biofuel mandates in the EU and your food shortage takes care of itself.

Ug99 and Black Sigotoka are more serious threats to world food security than projected levels of ethanol production.

former law student said...

I should say further that world food growers have fallen into the same trap as the Irish did by growing a few favored varieties of food crops. Further, (and I for a long time thought this was merely alarmism) the success of genetically modified crops is in fact reducing natural genetic diversity.

blake said...

I love Kevin Hayden's admonishment that IT'S ONLY A THEORY!


Somebody should've told Demi.

AST said...

Barack Obama makes me bilious.

I would describe his personality as characterized by flat affect, (See: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=26293. )
It's a symptom of depression, possibly of schizophrenia.

vbspurs said...

According to the article we have had no President in the Idealist category.

On the other hand, this country is awash with Entertainers!

* Zachary Taylor
* James A. Garfield
* Chester A. Arthur
* William Jefferson Clinton
* Warren G. Harding
* Franklin Pierce
* Ronald Reagan


I'm not entirely sure what is the Entertainer criteria for Presidents.

Are they out of sequence? Or is that ranking suppose to suggest Zachary Taylor was more of a showman than Ronald Reagan?

Wasn't Franklin Pierce remembered as one of the more dismal Presidents?

I know he said, after failing to gain his Party's nomination as President WHILST PRESIDENT, "there's nothing left to do but get drunk", which admittedly is HIGH-LARIOUS, but come on. And Chester A. Arthur, WTF?! He spent more time with his tailor, than his Cabinet.

I'm guessing Keirsy wanted a label a little more serious than "snappy dressers"...

Cheers,
Victoria

Maguro said...

"I expect President Obama to realize he has a different constituency from Senator Obama (D-Cornland)"

So you expect Pres Obama to spend political capital opposing the subsidies he supported as Senator? You're living in fantasyland.

"Ug99 and Black Sigotoka are more serious threats to world food security than projected levels of ethanol production."

Maybe, but ethanol undoubtedly makes any food shortage worse and Obama supports it. Yet somehow you trust him to come up with a solution for this much more difficult problem?

bearbee said...

I'm not entirely sure what is the Entertainer criteria for Presidents.

Descriptor changed from Entertainer to Performer
The Portait of the Performer