The Presidency, stress, and emotional intelligence

If you’ve ever wondered why the job of President has so visibly aged many of the men who have served in the position, consider the experience of President Obama during the past couple of days.

Saturday night…live

On Saturday night, the President and the First Lady were part of the annual White House correspondents dinner, an evening of hard hitting humor, with the President both giving and taking. Making the rounds on Facebook and the Internet generally was C-Span video of the event, especially these remarks by comedian Seth Meyers:

Watching this, you wouldn’t know what the President had on his mind besides the “usual” stuff facing the leader of the nation.

Earlier that day

But if I have the timeline correctly, earlier that day he had given the go ahead for the mission that would lead to the killing of Bin Laden. This had been in the works for some time, and Obama had been integrally involved in its planning.

So here’s the President, awaiting news of a mission that would have major consequences for national security, attending a dinner where he has to listen to and deliver barbs about Donald Trump, the birthers, and other comparative nonsense. Of course, being the President, he can’t just stand up and say, this is bull—t.


After his Saturday night out, Obama didn’t have the luxury that many attendees had of spending Sunday reading the papers over brunch. Instead, the day apparently was spent confirming Bin Laden’s death and preparing for a public announcement, leading to this:

Stress…and emotional intelligence

Talk about stress. And talk about the need for emotional intelligence when it feels like the world rests on your shoulders. I’ll leave it to each of you to decide for yourself how the President did in this situation overall, but for me this was a stark reminder of why this is one of the toughest jobs around.

3 responses

  1. It all certainly makes me appreciate the now obvious irony of President Obama’s words regarding Donald Trump at the correspondents dinner Saturday night:

    “All kidding aside obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example, no seriously, just recently in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice at the steak house the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks, and there was a lot of blame to go around, but you Mr. Trump recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership and so ultimately you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey, and these are the decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.”

    Thanks for your post, David.

    Take care.

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