By Edward Brown
This Q & A session discusses the impact of strategy for enhancing political charisma on the world stage.
Q: How has the death of Osama bin Laden enhanced President Obama’s charisma?
A: Recent polls suggest that President Obama’s approval rating by Americans is around 47%. At the urging of real estate developer Donald Trump, the White House recently released the long version of President Obama’s birth certificate thwarting the ongoing speculation of Obama’s citizenship, but demonstrating a degree of weakness by divulging this information under pressure. Escalating gas prices and the continued high employment rate necessitated some action that would change the conversation as well as create a sense of achievement for the Obama Administration. Neutralizing Osama bin Laden did that. This one act strengthens Obama’s reelection bid as well as increase his fundraising efforts.
Q: Is the killing of bin Laden merely a political move to curry favor with the American people?
A: If most things are predicated upon a political agenda, killing bin Laden is a political act. Contemporary politics is not only about the distribution of resources, but the marketing of political candidates. Symbolically and inspirationally, neutralizing bin Laden at this time, pays off politically and creates the perception that Americans are safer and that President Obama is a strong, decisive leader. In street vernacular, Obama gets “Cool Points.”
Q: Is charisma about using lives to facilitate an objective?
A: Charismatic leaders are consistently Machiavellian in their actions. Yes, they implement strategies to affect a specific outcome even if lives are expended in the interim. One would be naïve to believe a message of hope does not come with the price of death on occasion.
Q: Why is a Machiavellian notion surrounding charisma difficult for people to accept?
A: People have a hard time accepting the reality that everything in life comes with a price and that there is an upside and downside to everything. Although people understand intellectually that everything has a price, it is problematic for them to accept emotionally.
Q: So, is President Obama’s charisma enhanced when the right person is killed for the right reason?
A: That’s a challenging question. It really depends on the situation. There is talk in journalistic circles that Middle Eastern countries who are allies of the United States are looking towards Russia and China for future alliances, because of the loss of confidence by Middle Eastern allies in American foreign policy. Although Libya is in Africa, cultural and geographic similarities with the Middle East put the neutralization of Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi on the same trajectory. President Obama’s election promise to “reset” global relations was interpreted by some regimes as an act of weakness. Charismatic leadership is weakened without fear and the threat of reprisals for acts against American interests. This goes to show that militarily, there is no difference between a Republican president versus a Democratic president. The rules apply across the board.
Q: So, does charisma exceed merely creating good feelings among people?
A: Charismatic leaders realize that people act on emotions and justify their actions through mental reasoning. Even when charismatic leaders have to exercise the most diabolical and heinous acts for a specific outcome, they have to insulate their message with emotional considerations for the audience they serve. To do otherwise, even when the cause is correct, goes against fulfilling the emotional needs of charisma leaders’ constituency.
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