Does President Obama Have a Moral Compass?

Category: Moral Question of the Week, Weekly Columns

President Obama

No, this weekly question page will not focus on politics but it is hard to ignore all that is going on in the world today. And, since our President is perhaps the most powerful and important person in the world, it’s hard to ignore the question of his role in the state of the world.

Given what is going on in The Middle East, the VA scandal, the IRS abuses, our border, and a long list of other domestic and international issues, do you believe President Obama is guided by a moral compass or by his ideologies?

Ironic Note: The other night I had a dream that I was sitting next to President Obama. I had a heated exchange with him – heated on my end – about Israel’s right to defend itself. He was very reasonable but said little in agreement or not with my staunch and passionate exclamations.

  • jack43

    Yes, President Obama has a moral compass but, alas, it is defective. No, he is not the most powerful, important person in the world. He dropped the reins of power through an apparent lack of interest in leading. His policy of “leading from behind” is proof positive of that. We the People are the most important persons in the world and we deserve all we have gotten, as well as that yet to come, for electing our leaders so poorly.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Well said @jack43:disqus – I’m still hopeful we can un-do the incredible damage wrought by this administration – my other favorite is that INCREDIBLE fool Harry Reid who just today declared that the border is secure. What planet does he live on?

  • Barbara Seiders

    Let’s see… during President Obama’s tenure, we’ve extricated ourselves from two wars; used diplomacy to effect conflicts in other parts of the world without going to war again and draining our national treasure even further – e.g. Syria with chemical weapons; recovered the US economy from unprecedented global financial crisis; started to overturn the discrimination facing so many of our nation’s citizens with regard to being able to serve in the military openly and honorably and marry the person that they love; has made it possible for millions of Americans, including me, to obtain affordable health care insurance…I think his moral compass has been sorely tested but is working just fine. It is true that as a recovering Republican, I admit I have been disappointed that President Obama has taken a more moderate path on many issues than I might have expected from him as the duly elected Democrat. Then I remind myself that before the election he was a leader in the Democratic party; after the election, he is President of the nation, including people whose views I don’t agree with and who want different things from government. I admire that he has maintained his conviction to leading this country to the best of his ability, in the face of so many critics who want only to see him fail – even at the cost of destroying the country. I don’t think I could have maintained my moral compass as steadfastly as he has under the circumstances.

    • Bruce Sallan

      I’m just joking @barbaraseiders:disqus – but I have swamp land for sale in Florida; you’d be the perfect buyer!

  • Sharon Ulery Ruggieri

    I don’t think anyone ever taught this man what moral anything meant, unless it was how to ignore morals. Everything his remaining 23% supporters continue to blame Bush for, they forget Obama has continued and even increased. Oh yeah, and now that he’s offering $6000 per family to take in an illegal child, (I’m in a border state and this is totally out of hand) while wars increase, taxes increase, gas prices increase and morality decreases, not to mention the entire world makes fun of him and this country, he’s busy playing pool, golfing and drinking…again

    • Bruce Sallan

      The sad truth @sharonuleryruggieri:disqus is some people, like Barbara above, still believe Obama’s Bull! I find it hard to comprehend. Are their heads completely in the sand or do they ONLY watch MSNBC and listen to NPR?

      • Sharon Ulery Ruggieri

        I don’t get it…I just don’t get how anyone can still attempt to find any good in anything this man does. I pray for people like Barbara, to wake up. And I hear claims like hers all the time, I’m a former republican, blah blah blah. They just say that to try to prove they have some functioning brain cells left. This isn’t just about politics and being partisan, this is straight up denial and refusal to look at reality. Why are people so blind? Even some who voted twice for this fool are admitting Romney should have won last time.

        • Bruce Sallan

          @sharonuleryruggieri:disqus – actually, I rarely hear “I’m a former Republican” – it’s usually those raised as Dems that stay Dems and especially if they live in New York or California and especially if they work in anything entertainment related. Imagine how it was for me – a Jew in Hollywood when I worked there for a quarter-century. We were a VERY small percentage of Hollywood. I would bet that Barbara hasn’t EVER watched Fox News but condemns it. I would be she’s an avid reader of The New York Times and listener of NPR. So, she only hears a one-sided viewpoint. THAT is way too many “educated” people. Then, let’s talk about our campuses? A hotbed of aging hippies who have NEVER grown up or, like our President, never held a real job!

          • Sharon Ulery Ruggieri

            Haha…I was never a hippie. But my parents were! LOL…I was born right as the hippie movement was ending.

            I remember about six years ago I asked an older gentlemen I knew, (in his 70’s) why he was a democrat. He thought for a moment and said, “Well, my parents were.” That about sums up how much thought some people give to their beliefs.

            I spent a year listening to NPR and Rush, and watching Fox and CNN/MSNBC to make sure I knew why I believed what I believe and I recommend all people who haven’t ever listened to the other side be willing to listen to all sides for at least one year. More likely than not, they’ll be swayed into using their brains to think and not their hearts and talking points 🙂

          • Bruce Sallan

            My parents believed FDR was still President and that if JFK were alive he’d be a Democrat – well, we all know FDR did die in his last term and if JFK were around today, can you imagine he’d say what he said in his inaugural speech as a Democrat today? NOT POSSIBLE!

          • David Weber

            Regarding campuses as “hotbeds of hippies who have never grown up or…held a real job”: That’s a very broad, very unfair assessment, Sharon.

            The university, as do many U.S. American institutions (e.g., the corporate world, the U.S. Senate, etc.) that once were held in high regard, has a multitude of problems, ones that itself has created as well as ones placed upon it. Yes, one of those problems is an institutional culture that just often enough to be unfortunate favors ideological and cultural excesses left over from the 1960s. But there is enough going on that does not that makes your application of the word “hotbed” here ill advised.

            It happens, for example, that that it is not uncommon now for professors to have had respectable professional experience outside the academic world. Just a couple of illustrations: it is not at all uncommon for a corporate executive who may have earned a Ph.D. (e.g., in engineering) retires from the business world and then enters the academic world; or that in a variety of academic fields, faculty job announcements include a request for experience as a practitioner (example: a posting for a chemistry professor position might ask that candidates have a minimum of “x” years in a chemical company); or for colleges to require professors in certain departments to do some consulting work each year.

            I’m only a data set of 1, but I personally was in the corporate world for about 20 years before becoming a full time academic. In the past eight years or so, I have served at 2-3 conferences as a member of panels on the topic of bridging from the professional world of a practitioner to the academic world. Indeed, I just this past week wrote a proposal for participating on another such panel.

            By the way, let’s face it, the number of “aging hippies” in academia is getting smaller because that aging is taking them into retirement. My age-mates (I was born in 1952) in academia are ending their careers and going into retirement. So while there still may be some number of doddering ex-hippies my age still teaching, that number is declining fast. The only reason I’m not part of that number is that I came to academia late (about 6 wk. away from age 47). I want and expect, for a variety of reasons, to be in my position for another 10-12 yr. or so. But by then I really will be a relic! As for my own hippie-ness: I was something resembling a hippie from about 1968 through about 1975. My bona fides, though, as I wrote earlier, are in place as a post-hippie-days corporate guy. The point being that even an old hippie can change culturally…no every “aging hippie,” inside or outside academia, thinks or acts like a hippie.

            As far as “real jobs” are concerned: Do you know enough about the professional world of education to determine that being a professor is NOT a “real job”? To put it another way: What features of a “real job” are NOT features of being a professor? I don’t want to presume what you do or don’t know about it…you may know the world of the professoriate intimately. The question still stands.

            If you do not have detailed or intimate knowledge of what being a professor is all about, I declare that being a professor is as “real” as any professional job…if you would like some detail, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] and ask. Better yet, come to my university and shadow me for a day–as a banker acquaintance of mine did several years ago. He was astonished by how far off base he had been all along in his understanding of what the academic profession is all about.

          • Bruce Sallan

            I believe totally that being a professor is a professional job but I also, as you well know, tend to agree with the “hotbed” description. Look how Israel is viewed and portrayed on “most” campuses? It’s shameful. And, I wonder about how many of those professors from the corporate world teach in the Liberal Arts (where much of the political correctness resides).

        • David Weber

          Ooops, my apologies, Sharon — I thought that you had written the comment (below) starting “actually, I rarely hear…,” but Bruce had in fact written it. So my reply (starting “Regarding campuses as…”) to you actually should have been directed to Bruce. Again, I am sorry for my error and I hope you will excuse it.

          As for being a former Republican, that doesn’t seem to me to be claim to dismiss or scorn. The most effective predictor for what party someone will affiliate with is what party was the prevailing on in the home he or she grew up in. This is something that research in political science has revealed; if you would like me to, I can track down a couple of research reports that address the matter.

          So Bruce’s journey from being reared in a home in which New-Deal-style Democratic Party beliefs prevailed, to becoming a conservative Republican, is not especially common…nor would be the opposite (i.e., growing up Republican and shifting to Democrat in adulthood). To make such a shift, however, is not mysterious, nor does there have to be an agenda of any sort in making that change; it is merely an example of personal change in a particular area of one’s life. If Barbara, or anyone else, was formerly “x” and is now “y,” I have no particular reason to assume that it means something beyond having made a certain type of change.

          • Bruce Sallan

            I believe that what your were raised with – whether religion of political beliefs – will tend to be the way most people stay. In my case, I did homework and learned what the Democratic Party really was TODAY. It wasn’t the party that my parents worshipped of FDR and JFK.

  • Barbara Seiders

    It’s clear people’s positions are grounded in emotion rather than substance when they resort to personal attacks and making things up about others (do you write fiction for a living?) instead of addressing specifics of the issues. Ok, so you’re unhappy with the choice for President that the rest of the country made for the past two elections. Good news – you have a chance for your views to be heard in the next election.

    • Bruce Sallan

      It’s clear to me @barbaraseiders:disqus that you are either naive or foolish. Where is our emotion other than passion over the destruction of our country at the hands of this POTUS. We aren’t allowed to be concerned? How about answering my questions – DO you ever read the Wall Street Journal, have you ever watched Fox News? Are you a college professor? Do you live in New York or California? Do you believe Israel has no right to exist either? And, no right to defend itself? Yes, I’m reaching. But, when ANYONE defends Obama, I have to question their thinking. YES, I operate from emotion because our country AND THE WORLD is in grave danger from the policies of this administration. What’s with asking a second time if I write fiction for a living? If that were the case, are my opinions therefore not worthy of consideration?

  • David Weber

    “Does President Obama have a moral compass?” I am politically moderate, truly centrist. On some issues my position leans slightly leftward, and slightly rightward on others. I have been disappointed by many of the results of many of Pres. Obama’s decisions, and questioned many of those decisions in the first place. For a variety of reasons, though, it so happened that I voted twice for him. Neither vote was a happy one for me…it was for me a matter of decide which presidential candidate in ’08 and ’12 I disliked least, hold my nose and vote. I had many misgivings before and after casting each of those two votes.

    You hear jokes and smart remarks about “undecided voters” and how ignorant anyone who is “undecided” for a long time during an election campaign must be…well, I was one of those “undecideds,” and I’m intelligent and up to speed on issues and politics. I made a decision literally a couple of days before each first Tuesday, because of the distaste I had for what the next four years would hold, no matter which candidate I might end up voting for. When I stood in the booth, I felt as though I was sitting on Utah’s death row, where as of the 1970s, and maybe later, you were invited to choose (firing squad or, I think, electric chair) how you would involuntarily meet your maker.

    I despised the most recent presidential campaign more than any I have participated in during any previous election cycle…and to add insult to injury to the U.S. electorate, I must have been longer than any other previous campaign — or certainly felt that way. Just once as a registered voter I would like to experience a presidential election in which I struggle to decide whom to vote for because each candidate has so much to offer, the policies and vision of each are well-considered and smart, although markedly differing; and the running mates are each, for all the right reasons, as appealing as those presidential candidates themselves are, and are ready for prime time if as VP conditions emerged that required them to enter the Oval Office.

    I delineate that in order to indicate that I am no friend of Pres. Obama, and so that I may say: Bruce, talk about a leading question! You have a track record in these columns of being solidly conservative and unsettled by Pres. Obama’s policies. Can you phrase the question in an any more tilted way? Yes, I suppose you could…you could have asked, “Is President Obama’s moral compass more finely tuned or less than, say, Marshal Tito’s?”

    But seriously … I would answer your question, “Yes, Pres. Obama has a moral compass.” I mean, really, think about what it would mean if he did not have one. To not have a moral compass would mean he was, by definition, sociopathic. I am certain you don’t want to “go there” in any attempt to castigate this president.

    The question as it appears in the body of the column itself — is he guided by moral compass or ideologies? — is only slightly more even-tempered in its phrasing. I’m not sure where moral compass ends and ideology begins. Morality and one’s ethical commitments, and one’s ideological commitments, are interlinked. Separating and assessing them requires extended thought, not a “like or dislike” evaluation found in Facebook or youtube.

    The real question you want to ask is something along the lines of, “How would you describe Pres. Obama’s ethical code, as apparent in or demonstrated by his policies and decisions? And in terms of moral strength or weakness, how would you describe Pres. Obama?”

    Neither you nor I can read minds of someone (Pres. Obama) we have never met, and who doesn’t know we exist, and with whom we have never spoken, and whom we “know” only from media reports of various kinds. Therefore, we must keep tight borders around what suitable points of focus would be in developing an answer.

    Well, I could write about this at some length, but I want to go to dinner and, after reading the headline about whether or not Pres. Obama has a moral compass, have a drink.

    • Bruce Sallan

      I’ll drink to that David – been having a lot of drinks during Obama’s “reign” and its resultant ongoing problems …