Conversation which took place over twenty years ago:
Colleague: “Heard you were getting married; do I know him?”
Me: “Salazar, in Department 404.”
Colleague: “He’s marrying you? But, he’s so nice…”
Me: (Puzzled look)
Colleague: “….oh, I mean, it’s not that you’re not nice, uh, you’re just different.”
In my professional life, I was viewed as a single-minded, focused hard-nosed prosecutor with zero likeability. In my personal life, I’m pretty sure my friends and family didn’t view me that way at all. And there were, of course, those at work who knew me both professionally and personally and liked me anyway.
What I’m saying is that unless you know someone on a personal level, there’s no way to know who that person really is if your only contact with him or her is on a professional basis.
Case in point. President Barack Obama.
It always amazes me when I read polls which show that people don’t like the POTUS’ policies and the way he’s handling this or that, but, for some strange reason, they find him personally “likeable.” For example, a poll in January showed that 83% of those asked called him “likeable,” but most say he hasn’t accomplished much on two top goals – the economy and fixing the way Washington works. WSJ columnist and author, Peggy Noonan, wrote that “the American people don’t want to not like Mr. Obama.”
I’ve got two problems with this “likeability” thing.
First, I don’t want to like my President. I want to respect him and I’d rather the rest of the world respect him, if not fear him, rather than like him.
Second, even if I wanted to like him, what would be the basis for liking him? I’ve never met him; I have no personal contact with him; I don’t have any idea what he’s like in private?
In other words, why is he so likeable to so many people? We see the President the way he wants us to see him even if it’s a photo op with the family dog Bo.
I have no idea whether he’s a good father. I don’t have any insight into his marriage. If I knew he gave his mother-in-law flowers each year, on Michelle’s birthday, thanking her for making him the happiest man in the world, as Ronald Reagan had, maybe I’d know something about the man before the desk in the Oval Office. But I don’t.
Here’s what I do know about his “personal” life. On May 9 of last year, at the commencement address he gave at Hampton University, he said he didn’t know how to work an iPod, yet two years before, he told Rolling Stone about his “eclectic tastes” in music revealing the contents of his iPod. He was the head of the most technologically-savvy campaign in 2008, and then says in 2010, he doesn’t know how to work an iPod? Why would he lie about something so trivial?
I remember an interview by Katie Couric who asked then candidate Obama why so many prominent political figures risk so much by committing adultery. He gave a very strange and disjointed answer. “I have no idea, because my attitude is the more I’m in public, I mean, I don’t even want to pick my nose, you know. It’s, I mean, I’m assuming everybody’s watching. And it’s just an interesting – I’ll leave that to the psychologists. But I find that, the more I’m in the public eye, the more I want to make sure that people know that, uh, there’s no gap between who I am and the face I’m presenting the world. You know, you want to, you want people to know that what you say is what you mean and that’s who you are.”
What??? He’s more concerned about getting caught by the public? Where’s, “I love my wife and my children and wouldn’t want to lose their love and respect by acting so recklessly?” How about following the words of J.C. Watts, Mr. President? “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”
As my President, I find him far too thin-skinned for the Office he holds, he doesn’t like criticism, even though that comes with the job, and has shown himself to be incompetent to solve the problems we’re facing now. I’m frankly tired of hearing him blame his predecessor for the country’s problems. I don’t like when he ridicules and mocks his opposition. It’s unstatesmanlike. He’s never held a real job and knows zippo about how the business world works. We’ve got fundamental differences in our views of America and, unlike my President, I don’t believe entitlements have made this country great. But, hey, that’s just me.
I’ve no idea if I’d like Mr. Obama if I “knew” him personally, but I certainly don’t like his policies. Didn’t like them in 2008, don’t like them in 2011. One year, three months, ten days … and counting down to election day 2012.
“Likeability.” I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.