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

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid