News / USA

    Obama Develops Distinctive, Presidential Style

    In his first year in office, Barack Obama has developed a unique presidential style, an approach to governing shaped by the experiences of his lifetime.

    Barack Obama getting sworn into office, 20 Jan 2009
    Barack Obama getting sworn into office, 20 Jan 2009

    Multimedia

    His presidency began before a crowd a million strong, but when the cheering stopped, he was one man dealing with overlapping crises: an economy in free fall and two unpopular wars.

    "The typical president, I think, has two or three big problems; we've got seven or eight big problems," Mr. Obama said.

    And as he took on those challenges, a presidential style emerged.  He became known as no-drama Obama...even, and reserved. His fellow Hawaiians see a pattern.

    "His cool, calm and collectiveness is very Hawaiian," noted Ku'ulei Stockman a Hawaiian educator.

    She says the first Hawaiian-born president has brought the island culture and mind-set to the White House.

    "We see it every day in him," she added.  "We see it in his speeches.  He just lives, eats and breathes the culture of aloha."

    Aloha literally means "breath of life." The aloha culture is a sense of community, a belief that everyone should get along.

    "There is a certain amount of that islander style there," said Ken Walsh of the magazine USNews and World Report.  "He feels that he is not a kind of guy who is confrontational. He tries to be very methodical and be very inclusive and that comes directly from the Hawaii experience."

    Walsh says you can see the Hawaiian influence throughout Barack Obama's life, starting with his stint as a community organizer in Chicago.

    "He was a guy who tried to get people to work on their own behalf, to get things done and to try to have everybody contribute," he added.

    That same sense of inclusiveness became even more apparent during his years as a law student and professor.  It was there that  Barack Obama honed his decision-making skills, and his approach to problem solving.

    Dan Johnson-Weinberger was one of his students at the University of Chicago Law School. 

    "He really actively encouraged a discussion," he noted.  "There was a feeling that if you weren't participating in the discussion, you weren't living up to expectations for the classroom - which really wasn't how other classrooms worked.  There it is all about the professor."

    Johnson-Weinberger says Barack Obama urged his students to look at all sides of a case, and glean all the information they could.

    "I would imagine that if he runs his cabinet meetings or his meetings with his advisors in the same way he ran his classroom, no one gets to coast and keep their mouth shut and agree at the end," he added.  "I would imagine their job is to make a case forcefully. Respectfully, but forcefully."

    Mr. Obama's top advisors indicate that is the way things work in the White House.  Barack Obama in his decision-making is like a lawyer dissecting a case.  And in his public comments, he is very much the educator-in-chief.

    Martha Joynt Kumar, who teaches political science at Towson University, hears a fellow professor in his voice.

    "Oh yes, because he likes dealing with the larger issues and tying things together and, yes, you definitely see that in him," she noted.  "And I think you see it also in his explanations of things.  He likes to be in situations where he can talk at length about what the parts are of an issue."

    Every president is the sum of his past experiences. In Barack Obama's case, they have resulted in a unique presidential style that critics claim is too detached, and lacking passion.

    But Ken Walsh predicts that Barack Obama, who promised to change America, will stay true to himself.

    "He is going to stay with the traits that have gotten him so far in his political career," said Walsh.

    The big question as he enters his second year in office is will the traits that brought him to the presidency deliver the results he needs.

    You May Like

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.