In the comments of Ken's post below Bill Fleming [Bill got mad that added an extra M in the orignal post] and I are discussing Barack Obama's personality. The debate seems to be whether Obama is an introvert full of self-confidence (the Flemming position, which he can correct if I have him wrong) or a loner with arrogance out of proportion with his accomplishments (my position).
Granted, all presidents will have high self-regard, often falling into arrogance. Let's compare
Obama to someone to whom few will have a visceral reaction, George H.W. Bush. Bush 41 started his own business (albeit with some help of family connections) and built a very successful engery company. He went on to be a congressmen, the ambassador to the U.N., head of the Republican National Committee, envoy to China (essentially ambassador, but not holding that title) and head of the CIA. All of this before he ran for president in 1980. Now THAT is accomplishment to be proud of.
Obama was co-president of Harvard Law Review, but conspicuously never published a signed piece in the Review, an omission I understand to be quite rare. At the University of Chicago he was given a senior lecture position without any legal accomplishments to speak of. While there he also never published a single law review piece and, according to Richard Epstein (admittedly, no fan of Obama) was conspicuous by his unwillingness to debate his views with other faculty members. Obama was contracted to write a book on race and the law but was unable to write the book. After getting two extensions (and two advances) Obama wrote Dreams of My Father rather than the book on the law. Again, there is this remarkable fact that Obama seems incapable of writing about what he is supposed to be expert on. And now we know, thanks to David Marinass, that large portions of Dreams of My Father were invented or highly exaggerated to the extent that we can call them untrue. So we can say that Obama could not actually write his own autobiography.
In the Illinois State Senate, as we know, Obama was "Senator Present" due to his unusually high number of "present" votes. In the US Senate he authored no important pieces of legislation. He chaired one sub-committee but failed to ever call a meeting. Is it surprising the Senate staff members voted him the #2 "show horse" in the United States Senate (right in front of Joe Biden, btw)?
Despite a career that suggests mediocrity, Obama believes, famously, that he knows more about policy than any of his policy directors, that he is a better speechwriter than his professional speechwriters, and he knows more about politics than his political director. Just to draw an example, Obama apparently thinks he knows more about economics than, say, Larry Summers, Paul Volker and Christina Romer. That, my friends, is not confidence. That is arrogance bordering on pathological. I will not rehearse (because I did it here) all the people who say that Obama really hates to lose, and what is more, he personally hates people who beat him. He also has the reputation of taking it as a personal insult if someone disagrees with him and, again, he takes a personal disliking of anyone who has the temerity to actually disagree with The One. That is not the sign of confidence. If anything it is a sign of great insecurity.
As I have said, if you like President Obama's policies and/or dislike Mitt Romney's none of this likely effects your vote. But, as Bob Woodward is pointing out, this likely makes it hard to be a successful president. Here's one anecdote from Woodward
"There's this divided-man quality to President Obama always. Initially he meets with the congressional leaders, he says you know, 'We're going to be accommodating, we're going to listen, we're going to talk, we're going to compromise," Woodward said.
"But then they -- Republicans ask some questions and challenge him a little bit and he says, 'Look I won. I'm in charge here,' " Woodward continued. "And the Republicans feel totally isolated and ostracized. And this was the beginning of a war."
Obama lacks the bargaining skills necessary to craft legislation, and absent an overwhelming partisan majority for his side, he can't work to form a legislative majority. One reason he cannot achieve this necessary task is that, as Woodward notes in this story, Obama has a visceral reaction to anyone who contradicts him. I think this puts him in the arrogant loner camp, not the self-confident introvert.