Sunday, June 23, 2013

Two Peas in a Pod

Trey Smith

One wouldn't think you could find much in common between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama. Cheney is a white conservative Republican from Nebraska who served as the Secretary of Defense under Bush, Sr. and Vice President under Bush, Jr. Obama is a black centrist Democrat from Hawaii who served less than one term as a US Senator before being elected US President. But as Conor Friedersdorf explains, these two disparate men share at least one important thing in common.
For all their substantial differences, Dick Cheney and Barack Obama share one leadership trait: they trust their own judgment so thoroughly, and value it so highly, that they recklessly undermine all institutional and prudential restraints on their ability to exercise it whenever they see fit. Indeed, like Kobe Bryant at the end of a playoff game, they both harbor a barely suppressed, supremely arrogant belief that behaving in this way is their responsibility, or even their burden.
Yes, arrogance! Both of them are way too full of themselves.

There is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance. You can possess the former without lording it over others. In general, people like to be around individuals who exude confidence because it often rubs off. If your leader believes that something is possible, it helps to make others feel it is possible too.

But arrogance is a different animal altogether. Most people bristle at having to spend time with those individuals who feel they inherently are smarter, wiser or better than everyone else. When it comes to group morale and cohesion, arrogance is a real downer! It is particularly irksome when an arrogant person demands trust from others without actually earning it.

Of course, it is not just Dick Cheney and Barack Obama who share this trait. While it can be found in people from all walks of life, there seems to be a heavy concentration of arrogance in Washington, DC. This is one explanation for why Congress rarely pays attention to the will of their constituents. Why should they? They "know" better than we do!

A few weeks ago my brother and I were discussing this overall topic. We both agreed that almost EVERY person who desires to be the US President is, by definition, arrogant. How else can you explain that an individual desires to occupy the most powerful position in the country? You have to believe that you possess the brains, cunning and wisdom to know what is best for everyone else. If that isn't the epitome of arrogance, then I don't know what is!

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