Home » Uncategorized » Why “Mr. Rebound” Never Finds Real Commitment: A Response to Drew Westen

Why “Mr. Rebound” Never Finds Real Commitment: A Response to Drew Westen

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On Saturday August 6th, 2011, the New York Times published an article by Drew Westen, a psychology professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, entitled, “What Happened to Obama’s Passion?”  It raised a lot questions from a psychological and scientific perspective but failed to look at President Obama’s presidency from a uniquely historical perspective. The argument is that President Obama has failed to be an effective leader because of an inability to tell the story the American people needed to hear. In retrospect, on that arctic January 20th, 2009 day President Obama and the people wrote the story , but we hid behind pen names rather than owning the story.  Although a new addition to presidential history, President Obama was going to be judged by a history that had no experience for the Obama precedent; therefore, President Obama and history were both equally inexperienced.  Finally, we made him our “Mr. Rebound” and it wasn’t really fair. Many of us did not commit to making this new relationship work while being fully aware of the hardships ahead.

What happened to [President] Obama’s Passion is the wrong question. A better question is why doesn’t the rebound guy ever find true commitment? The people’s commitment has been swayed by the “take-me-back-baby-I-promise-to-be-a-better-man” syndrome so many dysfunctional relationships demonstrate.  This is the same historical pathology America continues to be married to, a system that has traditionally and historically worked in favor of a few citizens; they are wealthy at the expense of the lesser informed, less wealthy, and less politically powerful.  To truly understand President Obama’s leadership we must accept that a politically homogeneous norm ended on November 4th, 2008.

We can no longer continue to compare President Obama to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, or any other presidents; they were the status quo of American presidents. President Obama is a new relationship. Isn’t the first rule of thumb to realize every relationship is different?  Besides, President Obama will naturally incur a different response from the nation as “Mr. Rebound.” Americans are less tolerant, more impatient and understandably so. “Mr. Rebound”  has no right to make mistakes. Moreover, we are heart-broken that earlier presidential relationships could treat Americans so poorly to the tune of unemployed millions, extreme deportations, and trillions of dollars in debt.   Furthermore, President Obama’s racial identity breaks the homogeneity of this system, prompting an adverse reaction from a general public rooted in fear of the unknown. There are tons of unanswered, unaddressed tensions that remain between African Americans and greater America, so the wonderment of what President Obama is thinking as he leads demands knowing every step he takes for the proper approval to be vetted.

Second, the faster voters come to grips with our love affair for dysfunctional government, the sooner we are able to appreciate a president like Barack Obama. He truly is Mr. Nice Guy, the one that doesn’t yell or get bent out of shape or strike back with threats and bully behavior.  He follows that other rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  Does President Obama need to acknowledge the villain we all know exists, have empowered through our votes, and are willing to keep around?  If it is acknowledged by Mr. Westen that bully tactics are dominating our government, why won’t we stop the bully rather blaming the person the bully repeatedly attacks? Abusive relationships never end until the abuser is finally brought to justice. Why has government become hijacked by non-compromising, non-negotiating Republicans and others? Because we are not commited to the change we vowed we were ready for.

Finally, President Obama hasn’t lost any passion–his leadership isn’t impotent–he hasn’t done anything different from any person who vows to work with others–he has stuck to the rules whereas the other side has been relentless in its desire to only agree to the changes that will only support its needs. Since the president’s opponents want to fill his seat, they take whatever measures they can to redeem the reason they were dumped in the first place. And, we let them. The Drew Westens and Bill Mahers refer to President Obama’s leadership in sexual terms (impotence, magic, etc…), the first things wounded men do to emasculate the new man. For too long “Mr. Rebound” has gotten a raw deal, but if we understand how rebounds work, they give us an opportunity to make the right play again and again.  We have to be committed to grabbing and holding on to them when they show up. Where is our passion?

Click on the links below for the original article and video clip:


Micheal Eric Dyson and Bill Maher

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