Pundits love to offer up psychological assessments of the president, writes Walter Shapiro on Politics Daily, but few of them think to return to Barack Obama’s own autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Shapiro, reading the book for the first time, finds that no one could have predicted Obama’s problems better than Obama himself did in the book. In one telling passage, Obama recalls a piece of advice given to him as he started community organizing: “Barack, you’ve got to stop worrying about whether people like you. They won’t.”
He talks about the importance of “making peace with the strong,” which could easily have crossed his mind again while negotiating his tax-cut deal this week. He discusses, and somewhat belittles, his tendency to over-intellectualize. He often appears in the book to prefer “a cigarette to the company of others,” Shapiro writes. That tendency hasn’t changed much—“there is little evidence that Obama finds cajoling senators to be more satisfying than the heady mixture of tobacco and nicotine”—and it hasn’t won him as many friends as the “backslapping camaraderie” exhibited by presidents like Bill Clinton. Click for more on the parallels between Obama’s memoir and the problems he faces now.