Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sylvia Welsh Headshot

The Shrinkage Factor

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Barack Obama may be the only male politician of any significance in the past, say, one thousand years who is faithful to his wife. Does anyone doubt Obama's fidelity? Now that it's near certain he will be the Democratic nominee, I've been trying to sort out why I don't think this is a good thing. It's not that I'm pro-infidelity, mind you. As a psychologist who has seen many couples torn to pieces over it, I know how corrosive betrayal is to a relationship. Yet, Obama's certain fidelity is somehow troubling me.

Now, to many of you on this site who have seen my postings before (and I want to thank you for the bodyguard I felt the need to hire), you know that I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. Perhaps I was more drawn to her to begin with because of her fierceness. It made me feel safe knowing there'd be this big, strong bear of a Mother in the House protecting her children at all times, ever vigilant and ever ready to do whatever it took to keep us out of harm's way. On the other hand, Obama's monotonic calm admittedly kind of scares me. Maybe because he looks kind of scared himself, especially in Hillary's presence. I'm not the first to comment on this. Maureen Dowd, an Obama-ite from early on, noted how he seemed to shrink (and, I would add, blink an awful lot) when forced to be in the same room with her. She may be over-doing the Rocky Balboa thing, but Obama's idea of getting into the ring seems to consist of trying to reason her out of the fight and the belief that if he just speaks quietly and soothingly to her, while putting a platonic, friendly hand on her shoulder, she'll settle down and leave the ring peaceably: in other words, if he's nice. Obama is a nice guy. And, as most any woman will tell you, "nice" guys finish last. And they finish last because, well, they just aren't very sexy. Power, for better or worse, is a turn on. I have no doubt that Obama wants to be President, which must mean that the guy wants power. And someone, most likely Axelrod, convinced Obama that the time to go for the gold was now — not in 8 years, but NOW. Obama bought into it and, I guess, the rest is history.

But Obama was not ready. Even though he will be the nominee, he, personally, was not ready. And maybe he never would be, come to think of it. Because what Obama seems to lack is what makes these powerful guys sexy: comfort with his aggression. He's just not comfortable with all that macho, aggressive, puffed-up-chest-capable-of-surviving-torture-ready-to-do-battle-if-necessary kind of thing. In fact, Dowd's characterization of him as a gazelle (to Clinton's lioness) and her affectionately nicknaming him Obambi implies that even she doesn't find him all that manly. Comparing her guy to a motherless baby deer must bring out Dowd's frustrated maternal longing, else why on earth would she want Bambi for President?

Which brings me back to Obama's irksome, wholesome, certain fidelity. It's actually not the fidelity that bothers me. I know that's a good thing. It's that shrinkage factor that has me worried. I think if it weren't for Axelrod, the Karl Rove of the Democratic Party, Obama may indeed be out there quietly making his case that nice guys really, really, really can finish first. And he'd have lost a long time ago. But Axelrod is no Obama. Axelrod knows and knew from the get-go that Obama had to at least try to appear like someone who could take a swing every now and then.

So now Obama is talking about "aggressive" diplomacy. I love it. It's brilliant, actually. He's found a way (or Axelrod has, I can't know for certain) to be comfortable with some type of aggression. He going to show us that he is not afraid to talk to anyone, even a big, bad bully like Ahmadinejad. I'm just worried that Ahmadinejad is going to pop out from behind the door as Obambi is entering the room and say, "Boo!"

P.S. I promise to support him anyway. He's going to need all the help he can get.