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Michael Brenner – Obama’s America: Id, Ego and Super-Ego

Barack Obama’s conduct as President baffles us – just as his personality eludes us. Design and purpose seem to be equally lacking even as the man exudes a strong sense of elitist superiority and his words convey high-minded aspirations. The puzzle lends itself more to psychological analysis than to political analysis. Here is one formulation that may shed light on his behavior in office.

Obama sees three points of reference in the collective American public personality. The Tea Party types are the ID. They represent primal energy, drive and inspiration. Then there is the EGO represented by the Establishment in all its forms. They are the very core of our national personality and the main pillar of our public life. At no time is their basic credibility and centrality to be questioned (and thereby weakening its structural integrity). Protecting the Establishment is his overriding responsibility as President – as he did during the financial crisis by comforting the Wall Street robber barons, and as he did in rushing to reassure the CIA that they were respected and appreciated during his first week in office. Finally, the SUPER-EGO is represented by “enlightened” liberals (and Lincolnesque Republicans of rectitude, now extinct) who exercise a slight counterweight to the Id and a mild restraining influence on the Ego when it threatens to become too self-serving or excessive in doing what has to be done. To him, keeping the Super-Ego from hamstringing the Ego is principal part of his job.

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