April 27, 2011
Insufficiency of Insanity?

Is Barack Obama too sane to be president? Here’s Dana Milbank:

As Obama’s capacity for complex thought can become a liability, so, too, can his cool rationality. Politics often rewards the emotional over the rational. Nuclear deterrence, for example, works only if your enemy thinks you are crazy enough to destroy the world.

Such “strategic irrationality” can be useful in negotiations. If your opponent thinks you really might do something crazy — like, say, shut down the federal government over a small budget dispute — then you have more power to bluff. But because Obama is unfailingly rational, opponents aren’t afraid of him doing something crazy.

“If the logic of a threat doesn’t make sense, it can still work if [your opponents] think you will be in the grips of an emotional reaction that’s not under your control,” says Robert Frank, an economist at Cornell University who specializes in behavior and emotion. “With Obama, it doesn’t seem there would be any emotional reaction that is not under his control.”


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at April 27, 2011 10:57 AM
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Anyone who wants to be president of this country has got to be nuts to start with.

Posted by: Duff Orben on April 27, 2011 5:51 PM

By this standard, the only sane GOP hopeful is Sarah Palin. She didn't even want to be governor of Alaska when she found out there was work involved. And she wants to be president about as much as I do.

Posted by: Phillyboy on April 27, 2011 6:23 PM
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