September 14th, 2011

Obama’s depression?

I’ve been asked to comment on Obama’s depression—no, not the economic kind; the psychological kind. Speculation is that the NY Times is about to do a story on the president’s growing gloom and listlessness.

So here it is: I haven’t a clue whether Obama is depressed. No one except his close associates has a clue. However, depression would be a pretty normal response to what’s going on in Obama’s life right now. Of course, there’s depression of the mild and non-incapacitating sort, and depression of the severe and disabling sort. My guess is that the allegations—if they do come out—will be that Obama is suffering from the former rather than the latter.

Presidents have been depressed before. Abraham Lincoln, for example, was famous for suffering from the malady, and he seemed to do okay at his job. In those days there were no anti-depressants, and Lincoln showed great strength in battling with what was then known as melancholy throughout his life:

With Lincoln we have a man whose depression spurred him, painfully, to examine the core of his soul; whose hard work to stay alive helped him develop crucial skills and capacities, even as his depression lingered hauntingly; and whose inimitable character took great strength from the piercing insights of depression, the creative responses to it, and a spirit of humble determination forged over decades of deep suffering and earnest longing.

Obama is not Lincoln, however much he might quote him. But Lincoln is not the only president who’s been depressed. LBJ is reported to have become depressed about the Vietnam impasse:

Moyers described Johnson to me [author Robert Dallek] as “paranoid” and “depressed,” and never more so than in 1965. Moyers attributes this dark passage to “the realization about which he was clearer than anyone — that [Vietnam] was a road from which there was no turning back.” Johnson saw the decision to send troops as potentially marking the end of his presidency. “It was a pronounced, prolonged depression,” Moyers adds. “He would just go within himself, just disappear — morose, self-pitying, angry…. He was a tormented man,” who described himself to Moyers as being in a Louisiana swamp that was “pulling me down.” “When he said it,” Moyers remembers, “he was lying in bed with the covers almost above his head.”

I asked Moyers if others in the White House were as troubled by Johnson’s behavior as he and Goodwin. Yes, Moyers replied, and “when they were deeply concerned about his behavior, they would call me — Cabinet officers and others. Rusk would call me and tell me about some exchange he just had with the President that was very disturbing, and he would say that he seemed to be very depressed.

We all know how that ended: with Johnson’s withdrawal from the 1968 presidential race, leaving Nixon and VP Humphrey to duke it out. And we all know how that ended, as well.

Although in some ways it hasn’t ended yet.

NOTE: And then there’s always this:

31 Responses to “Obama’s depression?”

  1. gs Says:

    I’d have sympathy for LBJ if he hadn’t been such a bullying lout. I’d have sympathy for Obama if he wasn’t such a supercilious ass.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    I’m depressed he’s not really depressed. And it’s depressing to find that the bearable lightness of the president’s depression is causing depression in me.

  3. Curtis Says:

    Obama is rootless, without identity, without faith. He cannot call upon inner resources which are not there. He owes too. He owes. Fortunately, we will be saved from a petticoat government because information availability precludes it. But, then, Biden?

    It would be ironic if Obama’s presidency ends similar to Wilson’s.

  4. Valjean Says:

    Oh, he’s depressed all right; I don’t need the Times to tell me that. Politicians, of course, primarily live in a bizarre world of impressions and spin but once in a while they must face — as Ayn Rand memorably put it — the consequences of avoiding reality. And Mr. Obama has nothing to fall back on: everything he’s tried as president has essentially failed, but he’s been told his whole life that these remedies would work (practically and politically).

    This dissonance is probably killing him; like waking up every morning and finding day is night and black is white. I don’t think he literally comprehends what’s happening. He’s being forced to live in a bubble of spin — and it shows.

  5. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Frankly, I would be surprised whether someone with Obama’s level of self-infatuation is capable of the self-criticism that constitutes depression. The best he may be able to do is wonder about of the inferior capacities of those who do not recognize his greatness.

    BTW I understand evolutionary psychologists wonder what are the evolutionary benefits of depression; in that if it is such a negative attribute why has it persisted in our species. I suspect the digression concerning Lincoln gives a clue. Depression may be a spur to action, to re-evaluation and therefore eventual triumph. In short, useful in moderation.

  6. Parker Says:

    “Frankly, I would be surprised whether someone with Obama’s level of self-infatuation is capable of the self-criticism that constitutes depression. The best he may be able to do is wonder about of the inferior capacities of those who do not recognize his greatness.”

    Yes, the narcissist finds the world at fault for failing to realize his greatness. However, according to the Mayo Clinic and other sources, inside the narcissist there is fragile ego. Obama is definitely a mannish boy and the pressures of the presidency, plus his utter failures, may be pushing him to a breaking point.

    I became interested in this disorder after Obama won the nomination for it was obvious to me BHO thought he walked on water. Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic’s list of symptoms. I think a check mark can be put by every symptom when it comes to Obama.

  7. NJcon Says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the “sickness” that causes him to resign for the good of the nation(cough, party, cough). Maybe the NYT is putting out feelers to gauge feedback on the viability of the idea.

  8. Gringo Says:

    If the POTUS is depressed, that would be a very reality-oriented reaction to the situation he is in. He is in way over his head. People no longer faint when he opens his mouth. Instead, they laugh.

    If the POTUS is enough reality oriented to realize that most people are no longer bedazzeled by his snow jobs masquerading as policy speeches, depression would be an appropriate reaction.

    Unfortunately, I fear that Bob from Virginia is correct in stating that Obama’s very high self regard prevents him from looking realistically at the situation. I found it very interesting that Valerie Jarrett, who is probably the White House or Cabinet person closest to Obama, once talked of him as if he were a genius who is bored by the details of everyday life and politics. IOW, the political person closest to Obama simply reinforces his unduly high self-regard. Which is probably why she is where she is.

    Those who disagree with Obama are too stupid to see that his great jobs plan will stop the oceans- or was that hairlines- from receding. Or was that ascending? :)

    I would hope that a lot of people who voted for him are depressed, that they are thinking to themselves, “how could I have voted for a man who hasn’t even run a Dairy Queen to assume the most demanding executive job in the world?”

  9. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Is this the right blog for amateurs to be pshrinking somebody?
    Anyway, there’s a story about Walt Disney. Walt doesn’t have ulcers, his staff used to say. He gives ulcers.
    Obama’s depressed? Hell, we’re all depressed. Thing is, Obama’s got all that guaranteed presidential pension and stuff. He has a lot less to be depressed about than we do, ‘cept for what people think of him. Yeah, that.

  10. Rickbert Says:

    I agree with Bob From Virginia’s point on the possible adaptive value of depression. I can’t recall specifics but I seem to recall something about the kinds of events most likely to cause a bout of depression involving the loss of highly valued relationships and/or the power and status that came from them.

    Depression disengages you from relationships that have been severed or drastically changed. Re-engaging with the world after a period of self-examination and re-evaluation can be healthier than acting as if the loss suffered didn’t exist. In a sense, chronic depression may be an illness not because of it’s symptoms but because they are chronic in nature and not a response to real world events.

    After the adulation of his campaign and election years, the public is increasingly sending Obama the Dear John message, ‘It’s not us, it’s you’. If Bill Clinton experienced depression after the ’94 elections, he hid it better, and was able to re-engage politically more effectively than Obama has to date.

    It may not be so much that Obama is depressed as much as he’s no longer even trying to hide it?

  11. gatorbait Says:

    Maybe he’ll give in to his depression….

  12. ELC Says:

    Although there are a lot of causes for Obama to be depressed, as others have already said, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if this were just the mainstream media trying to portray the most powerful man on the face of the Earth as a victim, to make him more appealing to those who rate victimhood very highly. (Just as they did with the Black congressmen who were not actually called the N-word.)

  13. Matthew M Says:

    The NYT may throw up examples of the poor dear’s travails to simultaneously rationalize his poor performance and distract from his destructive policies.

    If such party-organ tripe is fit to print, it will be more proof the Gray Lady hasn’t lost her ability to disappoint those who still expect information from a news source.

  14. rickl Says:

    What ELC said. It sounds manipulative to me.

    Screw him. He has caused a great deal of depression throughout America, as we watch our country being stolen away from us by a Marxist/criminal cabal.

    If he really is suffering from depression though, as I’ve said before, I hope the Secret Service and the Air Force are keeping close tabs on the ‘football’.

  15. Libby Says:

    Oh, boo hoo, Obama’s a little down. Most presidents go through low points – it’s hard to imagine not getting a little down sometimes in the most high-profile, stressful job on earth.

    I ‘m sensing a set-up by the NYT. Either they’re looking for an excuse for him to drop out of the 2012 race, or they’re trying to stir up some sympathy for him. As Obama mentioned only last month, Lincoln received almost as many political attacks as the big O has.

  16. Mike Mc. Says:

    I do not think Obama has a depressive bone in his body.

    He’ll pout on an Olympian scale, but that’s not depression.

    It takes a certain mind, soul, spirit to be depressed. Obama doesn’t have it. He is cold inside and out.

  17. Data Schlepper Says:

    Dig the groovy psychedelic lettering in the title of the movie preview baby!

  18. kcom Says:

    I’ve seen that movie. Or at least a good part of it. Probably on TCM. James Coburn had his groovy period, for sure.

  19. Don Carlos Says:

    Depressed, him? Nah. He’s laughing at us, at our impotence, at his ability to con the sheeple while he leads them to ruin. He’s the Rev. Wright of the nation, and like the Rev., is living large, now and until the day he dies. He’s scored big-time.

    Unsuccessful? Nope. He’s trashed us wonderfully well.

  20. Perfected democrat Says:

    “I would hope that a lot of people who voted for him are depressed, that they are thinking to themselves, “how could I have voted for a man who hasn’t even run a Dairy Queen to assume the most demanding executive job in the world?”

    Isn’t that expecting an awful lot from that crowd? One of the worst things about the Obamatoad culture is that they are obstinate, it’s a “pride” thing; from the beginning that has been a major cultural theme in rationalizing his election. It would be like expecting Al Gore to admit that, at the very least, the science on AGW is not technically complete yet. When the earth is obviously flat, try arguing otherwise with the ruling authorities…

  21. Scott Says:

    I don’t think he’s depressed. It’s laziness, disinterest, and an intense focus on himself.

  22. CZ Says:

    It must be very depressing when everything you hope to have accomplished failed on it’s own lack of merit. When everything you believe in is proven wrong.

    It’s been a hard four years for our nation. We will all be better off for it in the long run as in 2012 we throw the last shovel full of dirt on the grave of what will be known historically as the failed American socialism experiment.

    Praise the Lord and pass the Prozac.

  23. SteveH Says:

    How can he be depressed? He brought us back from the brink. Remember? The recession is just a distant memory of a time before GM and GE aquired the funding to partake in the booming chinese market and making our numbers look bad. All these increased foreclosures, job losses and debt here at home are just signs of the recovery.

  24. John F. Opie Says:

    The President’s Analyst! One of my all-time favorite films. Great camerwork, subtle slapstick humor (the wheatfield sequence is funny as all heck), and James Coburn. Great ending that was, for the time, truly subversive. Never viewed Bell Labs quite the same…

    They really, really don’t make films like that any more. They need to. Seriously…

  25. Curtis Says:

    Reason number one for Obama’s “depression:”

    Sarah Palin.

    mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmmmmm!

    There’s good reason to agree with ELC that Obama’s depression is “puh leeeze.”

    And it shows “ethnocentricity” now, doesn’t it? And isn’t ethnocentricity a bad thing?

    eth·no·cen·trism   /ˌɛθnoʊˈsɛntrɪzəm/ Show Spelled[eth-noh-sen-triz-uhm] Show IPA
    1. Sociology . the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.
    2. a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one’s own.

    The NY Times actually believes it can generate sympathy by portraying Obama as a victim and we will identify with him because he suffers from depression.

    For a President? An arrogant, condescending, deceitful, hateful, vacationing, lazy one at that.

    The NY Times suffers from ethnocentricism. Maybe we should do a longitudinal study on the editors of the NY Times to determine why they are so resistant to change and tolerance.

  26. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Parker, I checked out your link to the Mayo Clinic page on Narcissist personalities. Yep Obama’s appears a solid candidate.

    Frankly, I would be more interested in an analysis of the personality’s of the people who voted for this guy. Why do some need to believe in Santa Claus and what makes them think Santa would be Barack Obama?

  27. Jack Says:

    Obama has come this far surrounded in distorted truths/outright lies (e.g., concerning his super-intelligence, his first book, his upbringing) and has never demonstrated a hint of shame. He’s too oblivious and narcissistic to be depressed.

    That being said, if he actually were depressed, I would think his handlers wouldn’t hide it, but instead blow the story up in the media. The talking points would read, “He just cares about America so much that he takes all the blame personally when these evil racist Republicans fight him so viciously over every one of his (socialist) measures.”

    One of Obama’s biggest faults (of many) is how out of touch and aloof he is compared to “ordinary Americans”. They could then play up his “sickness” as “proof” of his deep concern for the country. Whereas this revelation in a Republican president would lead to cries of “unfit to serve!” and “impeach!”, with a Democratic president , the country will be urged to go along with him to make him feel better.

    Maybe the musings of this thread on this site will make it to Attack Watch!, whereby Obama’s campaign will then use this as a strategy and start dropping hints of Obama’s “depression” to the media. It could work.

  28. SteveH Says:

    “”whereby Obama’s campaign will then use this as a strategy and start dropping hints of Obama’s “depression” to the media. It could work.”"

    Nahhhhh. He’s now officially the boy that cried Bush. Pretty much sealed his own fate. But the jury is still out on whether it was intentional on his part to combat withering excuses that were undermining the race industry. Now he can be forever a victim, seeking yet more mileage out of the issue.

  29. Peter Says:

    Obama depressed? Hell, I’m depressed just thinking of the horrible task we have ahead trying to dig the nation out of this hole.

    There is no one in the country, it seems, that cares that the nation’s unemployment rate in November, ’06 was under five percent. The Donks took over Congress and then the rest of the government, now the nation is on the brink of collapse.

    Oh, yeah, it’s GWB’s fault. Sorry, I forgot. Please don’t turn me in to the President’s new snitch line.

  30. Waldo Says:

    I don’t think it takes a brain surgeon to know that Barry has been battling depression his entire life. From what little we know of the man, his upbringing was depressing. Abandonment, communist, mentored by a child molester…it’s a regular story of serial killer.

    These rumors about Barry suffering depression have been going on for two years.

    Some have mentioned the NYT is doing this for Barry to gain sympathy…perhaps. Considering the dominoes are tumbling down around him and Clinton is surfacing in the same articles one has to wonder if Barry is being thrown under the bus to make way for Hillbilly. She will win too, because the conservatives in this country can’t find their way. We only have one viable person running for 2012 who is a true Constitutionalist and people don’t want that.

    We get the government we deserve. Onward through the fog.

  31. Waldo Says:

    An interesting read on the subject:

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