Tuesday, December 09, 2008

No Drama Obama

In the recent post-election news the concept of “No Drama Obama” has gone “viral.” By no drama Obama is meant that there has been a remarkably low level of leaks and melodramatic behavior coming from his organization which even SNL has satirized and labelled "cool." The pundits are taking it for granted that Obama achieves this result by keeping tight control over his staff. Some on the Fox network think that it shows that he is a cold, calculating politician ready to betray anyone and everyone while plunging the US into a socialist nightmare.

This could be of interest to transactional analysts because of an alternative explanation. To the suggestion that Obama achieves his no drama outcome through tight control, I would offer that he achieves that outcome by refusing to play games. There is an intriguing relationship between the “no drama” attribute of Obama and transactional analysis' familiar concept of Karpman’s Drama Triangle within which people switch between three roles (Rescuer, Persecutor, Victim) while playing melodramatic sociallyand personally dramatic games.

Observation of Obama’s behavior repeatedly confirms that he resists Persecution or Victim behavior even when persistently urged by constituents and news people. His reluctance to retaliate against Clinton’s, McCain’s and Lieberman's attacks and his quick conciliatory efforts soon after the election, are good examples.

No drama can be seen to mean that Obama lacks a tendency to get hooked into games and prefers and is able to stay in his Adult ego state. This probably was a decisive factor in his election as it gave him an aura of maturity and competence that he needed to persuade independent voters. I assume it will continue to serve him well as he assmbles his cabinet of ideologically diverse, extremely talented and I would assume headstrong advisers.

One can deduce from what we know about Drama Triangle dynamics that he is equally reluctant to engage in Rescue behavior. The fact for instance that he refused to consider Clinton as vice president might be an example. This could indicate that he would make important appointments in his government on an objective basis of competence rather than as a Rescue of needy bureaucrats or as a return for previous Rescues. It all bodes well, given the gigantic problems that he will be facing. I think we did well to elect him.