Dana Milbank writes in today's Washington Post on the ramifications of Obama's cerebral nature. Without taking a stance on whether this is good or bad, he explores, through consultation with academics, how Obama's seemingly inconsistent policies are the result of a high level of analysis and thought. Milbank credits this with being the root of many of the criticisms and frustrations people experience with Obama. Milbank argues that unlike Bush, Obama's psychology makes him difficult to read and thus immensely frustrating to the average voter.
While Milbank dances around the obvious conclusion, it seems clear that if his characterization is correct - and it is quite convincing - Obama possesses a set of detrimental characteristics that, while possibly making him a great policy adviser, make him a poor president. Milbank writes, "In an ideal world, complex and rational thought would be virtues. But in politics, these attributes can make Obama seem ambiguous, without toughness or principles." The unfortunate conclusion seems to be that the high level of emotion and rhetoric needed in today's politics makes a thoughtful academic a poor politician. Accordingly, Obama's intellectualism has failed to rally his own base, while angering both the opposing side and his own supporters with unpopular polices.