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How Obama Is Like Bush (Really)

Writing for the Guardian, Michael Tomasky reads Noam Scheiber's profile of David Axelrod and takes note of something I wrote about yesterday: President Obama's willingness to reject political advice. After recounting Obama's decision not to limit the salaries of executives at banks receiving federal support, a move that surely would have played well with the public, Tomasky wonders:

It's reassuring that the technocrat in Obama prevailed over whatever demagogue is in him. Geithner probably had a point - people react to incentives and disincentives. However, there was the question of public mood, which Obama chose not to placate. As I say, that's admirable to a point. But am I alone in getting the feeling that maybe Obama makes a bit of a fetish of not kowtowing to public opinion?

No, Mike, you are not alone.

Not only is Obama willing to do what he thinks is right, even if it's unpopular. He actually seems to relish the opportunity. And you know who else acted the same way? George W. Bush.

Of course, that was one of the (few) things I admired in the former president. I didn't like most of his decisions, obviously. But, at a time when most politicians follow polls so slavishly, I appreciated Bush's willingness to embrace and stand by unpopular policies. And I appreciate that quality in Obama, even if I don't always like his decisions either, although it can clearly make political life difficult.

Update: With some rewrites in the last paragraph, to state my point more clearly.