Scott Sandage: Obama "not a naturally tough character"

Historians in the News

As angry Democrats beat a path to television cameras Wednesday to denounce a White House tax compromise with Republicans, President Obama was making a show of being presidential....

"He is certainly straining to prove that he is tough," said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist. "But there is a real threat to the White House now in that it is officially open season on the administration from the left and the right....

"The key risk in all of this for Obama is that he is not a naturally tough character. Scott Sandage, a professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University, said Obama's short stint in the Senate didn't give him a killer instinct for legislative wrangling.

"It often seems like when Obama recedes, he is trusting the process to drive itself -- and it just doesn't work that way," Sandage said.

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vaughn davis bornet - 12/15/2010

I followed LBJ day by day in his White House Diary (really a chronological list, purchasable), and did the best I could with his legislative pathway. It is my considered opinion that he doesn't fit the stereotype offered above. He didn't hesitate to backup, move sideways, and generally avoid any frozen positions. That's how he got things done, that and minutely observing the characters/personalities of his opponents, remembering DETAILS many would have scorned wasting time with.

I am bemused by the litany of criticism of our current President as he works, sometimes fails for a time, learns, and moves ahead.

It's what I expected and hoped for this new president.

Vaughn Davis Bornet Ashland, Oregon
The book is The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson (1983).