Presidential Ego

To be the leader of a large business, and especially of a great nation, it’s necessary to possess an outsized ego.

Here’s an example of an outsized ego, courtesy of Haaretz:

…Obama…met about 20 Conservative Jewish community leaders [prior to the White House Medal of Freedom award ceremony that afternoon]….

There were some questions directed at the presidents concerning his thoughts on the role of religious leaders in a more civil political dialogue, which then lead to the inevitable question—how does he feels about Israel?  Obama joked that [White House Chief of Staff Jack] Lew always warns him it will get to “the kishkes question.”

Obama remind[ed] his guests that he had so many Jewish friends in Chicago at the beginning of his political career that he was accused of  being a puppet of the Israel lobby.

Obama…stressed he probably knows about Judaism more than any other president, because he read about it—and wondered how come no one asks Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner or Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel about their support to Israel.

William Kristol, writing in The Weekly Standard after the meeting, had some comments.

1. The reason no one asks John Boehner or Mitch McConnell about their support for Israel is … because they really do support Israel.  The reason people ask Barack Obama about his support for Israel is because his support for Israel has been equivocal.  [Blogger’s note: I think Kristol is being generous here.  I would have said Obama’s support has been indifferent.]

2. It’s truly pathetic that Obama has to reach for the tired (to say the least) trope that some of his best friends were Jewish.  Actually, one wishes more of his best friends were pro-Israel Christians.  They might have had more luck convincing him, a fellow Christian, that he should be pro-Israel.  [Blogger’s note: Well, he did have Bill Ayers, Bernadette Dohrn, and Jeremiah Wright.  But then, they were just folks in the neighborhood and a guy in a church.]

3. And the claim that Obama knows more about Judaism than any president?  His vanity boggles the mind.  One could begin by citing Adams and Madison, who knew Hebrew, or Harry Truman, who knew Jewish history … but it’s silly to dignify this claim with a rebuttal.  In thinking about the presidents since Truman, though, I’d guess the president who knew the most about Judaism was Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school and had a deep interest in religion.  [Blogger’s note: But, but—Obama read a book!]

To be successful as that leader, though, it’s also necessary to have an accurate picture of one’s self and of one’s place—both vertically, as one of many in a long history of predecessors creating and building that entity; and horizontally, as a part of the entity and just one of its many members.

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