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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs