Barack Obama 101: A lesson in understanding the president

Many journalists seem confused by how Barack Obama is leading the country. Here is one attempt to offer some insight. Photo: President Barack Obama/AP
Bob Taylor

CHARLOTTEJune 3, 2013 — As interest in the Obama scandals grow, it is becoming more obvious that journalists are frustrated by the increasing lack of clarity. What news people are dealing with on a daily basis is no different than this writer’s personal experiences while living in Saudi Arabia. So, perhaps it might be possible to offer a semblance of explanation.

Admittedly these thoughts are speculative, but they do have merit. They are not intended as an indictment of Barack Obama, but as an effort to explain why confusion surrounds so many aspects of his administration.

In his novel, The Haj, Leon Uris wrote, “The Bedouin owed no taxes, paid no landlord, recognized no borders. The Arabian peninsula from which he sprang, had remained remote and beyond the grasp of the conquests of Egypt and Rome. In the punishing desert a cruel culture evolved that matched the brutal dictates of nature. While the world of progress passed him by, the Bedouins survived largely by plundering the vulnerable. Strong sheiks with no more compassion than the blistering sun showed little mercy to the weak. The Bedouin was thief, assassin, and raider, and hard labor was immoral.”

This is the basic precept of Islam and how it evolved. Little has changed in 1,400 years.

Within hours of stepping on Saudi soil, it is impossible not to notice that Arab society is one of the most paranoid cultures in the world. Saudis always leave themselves a way to avoid responsibility for anything they do. If it is possible to place liability on a subordinate, a superior always leaves his underling in a position to take the blame.

In Saudi Arabia if a taxi driver has a wreck, the passenger is responsible because the cab would not have been there if the passenger had not hired him.

When dealing with a superior, it is virtually impossible to obtain a definitive answer about anything. After a morning meeting, even if you are sure you understand the agenda, chances are good that everything will be different by mid-afternoon.

Life in the Muslim world is a perpetual juggling act. The only rules that count are the ones you are using at the moment. They can change within a week, a day or even an hour. All that matters is what is most advantageous to any individual at a given moment.

For a Westerner, life in the Islamic world is a constant series of adjustments that always feel slightly off-center. Books are read from right to left. Weekends are Thursdays and Fridays. Calendars are lunar based rather than solar based. Restaurants have separate sections for singles and families. Bibles and churches are forbidden in Saudi Arabia.

Life is regulated according to calls to prayer, which happen five times each day and at lease three times during a normal work day. Prayer times are printed in newspapers and on the internet so people can arrange schedules accordingly.

During Ramadan, non-Muslims cannot be seen eating, drinking or smoking in view of Muslims. If caught, it could result in immediate deportation.

Such observations are not intended as complaints. They are meant to demonstrate the adjustments that must be made. In Saudi Arabia, or any other nation, outsiders must adapt to the lifestyles and laws of the host nation. Daily life becomes complicated by constantly adapting to the uncertainties of what is acceptable and what is not.

That said, if outsiders must respect the way of life in their host country, should not the reverse also be true? Why must Americans be forced to accept concepts of Sharia law in our own country simply because Islamic beliefs differ from ours?

How does this relate to Barack Obama and his administration?

Barack Obama was born into an Islamic society. He is a product of skewed secretive, distrustful, paranoid, victimized teachings that included studying the Koran and living life lessons as taught by the Prophet Muhammad.

During his formative years Obama attended madrassas and lived in a world dominated by Islamic thinking. Perhaps that is of no consequence, but it is no secret that many Muslims are indoctrinated in their youth long before they have any concept of what they are saying.

Far fetched? Maybe, but how many times have we seen attorneys defend clients by claiming child abuse and all manner of detrimental external prejudice that influenced a person during childhood? It happens all the time. Why should the early outside forces on the president be any different when as a youth he was surrounded by a preponderance of Islamic thinking?

When was the last time we heard Barrack Obama make a speech with any depth or clarity? The delivery might be silver-tongued eloquence, but the words are always empty.

How many times have we heard Mr. Obama boldly state one thing in a speech and then do the opposite?

If corporations or sports teams reflect the personality of management, then is not the same to be true of the presidency? The scandal investigations work their way from the bottom up, but administrative philosophy flows from the top down.

If the earliest influences in the president’s life indoctrinated him in the same mindset outlined above, then it should be no surprise that we will never unravel his convoluted approach to leadership.

Three scandals swirl through Washington. Barack Obama’s fingerprints have yet to be found on any of them. That is how it works.

Understanding Barack Obama requires a knowledge of unfamiliar societal concepts that are foreign to most Americans.

Contact Bob at Google+

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( which offers tours and travel information for people who share his wanderlust spirit.  

Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

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