Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Evidence-based Presidency

From Michael Lewis' profile of President Obama:

“I want to play that game again,” I [Michael Lewis] said. “Assume that in 30 minutes you will stop being president. I will take your place. Prepare me. Teach me how to be president.”

This was the third time I’d put the question to him, in one form or another. [...]

This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it—at least I don’t.” [Bold emphasis added]


  1. Anonymous said...

    The thing about him that is most appealing is the statements made by him, a lot like this one. He appears normal, not a messaiah or made of money or anything of that sort, but someone most individuals can relate to. Interesting read, thanks.