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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid