Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted December 19, 2009

Published in Lifestyle

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What President Obama's Failing Presidency Can Teach Us About Changing Ourselves and Our Relationships

Read More: change, commitment, communication, hope, President Obama

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When running for election, President Obama spoke passionately and with great conviction about the change that was necessary in our country and in our world. He spoke about his commitment to change and his belief in his capacity to initiate and create that change.

And he has, so far, failed.

I get the sense that we have elected Bush Lite, as opposed to an innovator, inspired leader that he presented himself to be, who has the tenacity and the leadership abilities to change the hearts and minds of those who obstruct his lofty goals and wish him to crash and burn.

So the question is: How did this happen? Where did he go wrong? More importantly: What can we learn from this?

Let's cut to the chase: Change isn't easy. When we wish to change ourselves or our relationships, the change will be met with great resistance, from ourselves and others. And it is our responsibility to not waver and backpedal under the pressure of that resistance.

Saying that change is necessary in ourselves and our relationships is not enough. Saying that we want to change ourselves and our relationships is not enough.

Passion, conviction, great hope and great desire will never be enough.

Without consistent, effective actions, our efforts will fail.

Without constant vigilance over our thoughts, our words, our behaviors, our actions and decisions, our efforts will fail.

Without a pushing forward of our ideals despite the resistance, the fear, and the doubts of others, our efforts will fail.

Without truly effective communication that does not waffle, but rather maintains a through line of truth, integrity and honor, our efforts will fail.

Compromise is important in the repair of relationships, but there must be very clear boundaries and deal breakers that cannot be abridged, because if critical aspects of change are not incorporated into the new foundation that is being established, whatever is built up will eventually fall and fail.

If we want to change ourselves, lip service will be eternally insufficient. We must act in the now, make our actions clear and unambiguous, and we must not allow ourselves to be influenced by our ego and the weaker, darker, fearful aspects of ourselves or others.

We must strive to discover our authenticity and mold all our actions such that we are ever moving forward towards our goals to transform ourselves.

Certainly there will be setbacks. Two steps forward, one step back. That's fine. But we must ever be moving forward. We must ever be keeping our eye on the ball, the goal, the end game.

To gloss over or avoid certain changes because they are difficult and meet with opposition within ourselves or others is to sabotage and defeat ourselves in the long run.

If we want to change our relationships, we must communicate effectively with our partner, not tolerating smoke, mirrors, distortions, misinterpretations, misdirections and lies, whether they are promoted intentionally or not.

We must be the leader in the transformation of the relationship, never allowing aggression and intimidation from our partner to deter us from our leadership role which is to forge the way for new rules of communication, behavior, and mutual respect, such that the needs of all parties concerned will be fairly addressed and met.

We must point out in loving and compassionate ways when old patterns are re-engaged, and not tolerate complacency, regression or stagnation. We must acknowledge and validate efforts that are being made, and by no means can we condone abusive behaviors, passive-aggressive or otherwise.

To change ourselves takes a lot of work. It's a lifelong process, but the journey is worth it.

To change our relationships so that they are truly loving and supportive, and nurture our continued growth and spiritual evolution is no simple matter, but it's worth the effort.

If two people come together with a holy purpose of finding and staying on a path of love and peace, it can be done. And in the doing, we role model these behaviors for others, helping them to transform their relationships and, eventually, the whole world in the process.


6 Comments | Leave a comment


I think you write off President Obama much too quickly. This President came into office with these problems created by the Bush crime family:

1 Iraq war
2 Afghanistan
3 Worst financial crisis since Great Depression
4 Gitmo
5 Global warming
6 Health care crisis
7 Underfunded, understaffed FDA
8 Mismanaged, criminal Environmental Protection Agency
9 Military pushed to the breaking point.
10 Rest of world disgusted with the U.S. government

And those are just some of the problems.

He has been in office one year. He has accomplished many things in his first year in office.

Is he perfect, no. But to just dismiss him is naive and ignorant of what he is up against, which includes a group of his own party (blue dogs) who have derailed health care reform.

A president without solid support in the Senate is severly handicapped. Add the financial might of corporate America and you begin to see what the President is up against.

And who, by the way, do you think would be doing a better job than Obama?


I am totally aware of and in agreement with the problems you pointed out that President Obama inherited from the Bush crime family. And I am in total agreement with your assessment of the forces that are operating against President Obama to defeat his agenda for change and destroy his credibility. I do not agree with your assessment that I have written him off, which I have not, or that i have dismissed him without regard to what he is up against. Because I have criticized him and suggested his presidency is currently failing, you have made assumptions about me without having all the facts. To attack the messenger by calling me naive and ignorant, rather than simply responding and counterpointing the message, decreases your personal power and minimizes your message. All the reasons you pose regarding the problems he inherited and the forces against him have actually nothing to do with my observations of his failing presidency, as i will detail in a moment. First i want to address the question you posed at the end of your comment which is, in a nutshell, my complaint with President Obama. You asked, " And who, by the way, do you think would be doing a better job than Obama?" My answer to this is: the Obama I voted for and helped get elected president, not the obama who is currently in office. Below are two responses I gave on my Facebook page to people like yourself who were disturbed by my comment about Obama's presidency failing:

(1) failing is a process. doesn't mean he will ultimately fail. it is my deepest hope he succeeds. but he is seriously falling down on the job, to my great sadness and disappointment. it is a flaw if people who are republicans and supported george bush can not look at his failings and mistakes. it is equally a flaw if people who are democrats and independents who support president obama can not look objectively at his failings and mistakes... you may disagree but i'll give you some examples of how i feel he has failed: i personally believe criminals and traitors should be prosecuted even if they are wealthy and powerful. george bush and dick cheney broke the law, they trampled the constitution, they lied to the american public, they caused the deaths and dismemberment of many many people; this should be addressed, there is no reason to do anything else but champion truth, justice and the american way. president obama hasn't addressed that.he refuses to address this. this is a failure in my personal opinion. bush and cheney allowed wiretapping and invasion of privacy which obama has continued to allow. this is a failure on his part in my personal opinion. he has not stepped up and led this health care reform like he said he would. the pathetic watered down version that he champions is a failure in my personal opinion even if it does help x number of people; it is flawed and favors big business and the insurance company devils. the way he handled the economic bailout was substantially flawed and a failure in my mind despite us not presently being in a worse predicament, compared to what he could have done had he chosen different people and better tactics, in my personal opinion. the escalation of the afghanistan war is a failure on his part, despite the complexities of the situation in my personal opinion.

(2) I blame Obama for the things he has not done that he has not tried to do. No one has obstructed him from clearly denouncing torture, clearly admitting that what cheney and bush endorsed, supported, encouraged, defended was torture that goes against the geneva convention, our government's rule of law, and the morality of enlightened minds. bush and cheney broke the law, twisted it into a pretzel, used their lawyers to try to make it seem okay and legal when they knew, we all know it was not. Obama failed me in not taking the necessary high ground on that one. Equally so, HE HAS CHOSEN to not encourage the prosecution of the lawbreakers at the highest level of our government, bush and cheney, who broke constitutional law repeatedly, twisted the rule of "national security" to hide the truth, lied to the american people into the iraq war for their own political and economic agenda. These criminal, unethical acts should not be ignored regardless of politics, regardless of obama's belief that we should look forward. you can't look forward if you ignore the atrocities and crimes of the past, allowing the message to be sent to others that it's okay. Become president, engage in fascist behaviors, and nothing will happen to you except you'll be on tv alot giving commentaries and you can go around the country making huge fees discussing motivational topics..... i blame him for not getting on tv and skewing lieberman and the republicans for tanking real health care reform. wasting all that time sitting back on the sidelines while the republicans who never had any intention to do anything meaningful except find ways to make him lose and look bad was a huge mistake. i didn't vote for him to be bipartisan to the point of impotence. i voted for him to lead the way loudly to a new future. where is that man i voted for? where did he go?.... now he accepts his health care "pyrhhic victory". it didn't have to be that way. he should have, in my opinion, spoken aggressively to the nation about the necessity of keeping in the health care bill the components that would declaw big business and truly be a system that would tolerate true choice and end the victimization of patients and families by the insurance companies... in my opnion it is a mistake to be too concillitory of obama; Defend him to the degree that you do, if you must but that's not helpful. better, in my mind, to acknowledge the areas in which he has failed us so that we can encourage him and inspire him to do what we elected him to do: challenge washington as usual and really make a difference.. as a final note let me say that when i first heard obama speak years ago, he became my champion, the first person to run for president in decades that i could fervently and aggressively support financially, in by blog posts, and with all my heart and soul.... i am saddened deeply.

ironically, we are on the same side, so to speak, which shows you the power of differing opinions within a group that shares an overall consensus, to generate aggression and division, which obviously speaks to what obama himself is up against in trying to broker change. i still admire obama in many ways, i have not written him off, but i will not cover up his flaws with glossy paint and ribbons, or give him so much slack that it sends the message to him that i approve of everything he does.

that being said, thank you for your passion and commitment to truth and decency, which is the foundation that we share.


Wow, he hasn't been in office a year yet and you claim he' failing?
Good Grief!


I do claim President Obama’s presidency is failing. For people to avoid looking at this premise objectively is, in my opinion, a flaw that will not make things better, only worse.

The argument that it’s only been eleven months, how can I say he’s failing, we need to give him more time before making such judgments and proclamations provides me with the opportunity to re-visit something that I wrote in a previous blog post about red flags and warning signs in relationships. This issue with President Obama is an important application of that principle:

In a relationship of any kind, if we see red flags and warning signs that there are problems in the relationship, that things are not going smoothly, that there are things which were anticipated to happen which haven’t happened, and we choose to ignore those red flags and warning signs and instead tell ourselves, “It’s okay, give it more time, it’ll all work out,” this is usually an error.

If a promise made during courtship is not fulfilled after the marriage has begun, there is no guarantee that other promises that were made will come to fruition. To say nothing and assume that everything will work out is a problematic tactical maneuver that is just asking for trouble.

It is wiser, perhaps, to acknowledge that the relationship is failing and floundering, based on the unfulfilled promises, because that’s the only way to engage and intervene to get the relationship back on track.

The point is to not deny red flags and warning signs, to not ignore the flaws in the relationship that have been uncovered, but rather to deal with them in order to repair the relationship and to encourage and, hopefully, to insure that future promises are kept.

In regard to President Obama, I’ll use the current Health Care Reform legislation as an example of how he has failed the American people up to now:

Whether you like a public option or not is irrelevant. When Barack Obama courted the American people, when he was trying to engender trust with us such that we would enter into a relationship with him, i.e. elect him, he promised and campaigned for a public option.

Once the relationship was solidified, once he was elected, he didn’t aggressively push for it to happen, and the other day he denied every having it as part of his campaign platform, despite that fact that he’s on video doing exactly that. This is clearly a misrepresentation of the truth.

To avoid taking responsibility for campaign promises is a major red flag and warning sign we should all be paying attention to, particularly from a person who campaigned for transparency and truth telling in government.

What President Obama has done, in this example, is politics as usual and business as usual, regardless of what benefits may accrue from the health care bill that is finally passed.

Truth be told, the health care reform bill we end up with may be laudatory in some respects, but it is likely to fall short of what it could have been had President Obama fought for the American people the same way he fought to get elected.

How President Obama handled health care reform is a red flag and warning sign that this is how he is going to deal with all his campaign promises, and that we are not going to get what we thought we were getting when we elected him President.

Rather than sit back, say nothing critical and give him more time before expressing our concerns about the decisions he’s making that will dramatically affect all of our lives, perhaps it’s our responsibility to speak out and express our dissatisfaction, with the hope that by doing so we can get him back on the path of real change we can believe in.


I think you must have a practice outside the ghetto and inner city poverty boundaries. You're too darn civilized. Obama rocked your world?


I'm not sure of the point you're making. Please clarify so I can respond... thanks.

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