Breakfast with Pandora caters to everyone interested in ancient Greek and comparative mythology, good stories, the craft of writing, food, theology, education, and other humane things. Ask a question at teenage underscore heroes at yahoo dot com.
It is not the season for stories, I've found, in this post-election, emerging Depression moment. It is a liminal time; we are neither in the old time of Bush or the new time of Obama, and mythology at this time seems particularly brittle.
Which gives me the opportunity to do something I have been wanting to do for a while-- revisit Myers-Briggs personality types with relation to presidential personalities. Earlier I did them for Olympian gods and goddesses, and you can find that here, along with links on Myers-Briggs theory in general. You might want to go there before you read this, as this post assumes some knowledge of the theory.
I became interested in this topic through wondering about Barack Obama's type. It is so different, diametrically opposite to President Bush's, in fact, that I think it's extraordinary we are swinging so wildly in our preferences.
But it's not an open-and-shut case on Obama's type: a quick Internet search revealed three different opinions on three different sites: ENFP, ENTP, and ENFJ.
In other words (thinking again to Greek divinities), Obama is either Aphrodite, Hermes, or Odysseus.
I choose XNFJ, with X meaning a personality about equally divided between Extrovert and Introvert. Here are some reasons.
First, some perspective. President Bush is clearly an ESFP, The Slacker. This type is represented by the god Dionysus, who in myth is a bringer of chaos and destruction while at the same time benefiting those who worship him. This type is characterized by a refusal to see the big picture (S over N), and an enjoy-now-pay-later attitude. The ESFP is the party-ready frat brother who never seems to go to class, but somehow makes it through anyway.
President Clinton is an ENTP, the Hermes type. This type is characterized by charming and often deceptive speech, a happy-go-lucky attitude, enormous self-confidence and yet a need to be with people. The NT part of this person ensures that the ENTP is a deep, big-picture thinker with strong opinions and, often, a conviction that he or she is always right. ENTP's are sometimes infuriating to be around for me, a hyper-responsible and neurotic INFP, because of their breezy, know-it-all natures, but they also can be a lot of fun.
As to the Extrovert/Introvert axis, Obama exhibits remarkable differences from the past two presidents. He does not come off as an enthusiastic glad-hander who's always making jokes and cracking smiles. He is not a pure politician in this way, a pure people person. I originally thought Obama must be an introvert (an INTJ in fact), because when he speaks he is so measured and controlled. He doesn't get caught up in the moment. He doesn't seem naturally at ease in a crowd. But I go with "X" because I think he is a people person enough to not be drained and exhausted by a 2-year presidential campaign.
Second, Obama is definitely an N, Intuitive, a big picture person, an idealist. In this he differs 100% from President Bush. Bush has spent the entire war with Iraq trying to figure out why we went in; he started off with the WMD argument (very concrete, very S), and only later decided on democracy. Finally, Cheney admitted it was about oil.
Obama has spent the entire campaign focused on the big picture-- on abstract words such as unity and hope. The Republicans have been apoplectic over his emphasis on abstract thinking.
As to T or F, I originally thought Obama was a thinker, not a feeler. NT's are very calm, intellectual, and convinced they are right. But Obama's emphasis on reconciliation and including other political viewpoints in his administration makes him seem more like an F.
Obama is also a J, a person who wants to get things done and cross them off his list. This is very beneficial in society, to have a person who can make a decision and implement it. I often wish I were a J when I am paralyzed by possibilities. The J exudes an air of control, and when the control does not degenerate into manipulation, it can be a very calming quality.
Altogether, XNFJ makes sense to me. An INFJ is often a good, thoughtful pastor, counselor, or advocate, while an ENFJ is often a community organizer or leader of a nonprofit. Both types are focused tightly on the welfare of others. In Greek myth, Odysseus is the ENFJ, the strong, single-minded leader of men who takes back his household after it has been ravaged by his own countrymen. The INFJ is Penelope, Odysseus' wife. I wonder about Michelle Obama's type?
And as to the ENFP-- sorry, Emily Yoffe of slate.com, but if Obama's an ENFP we are likely to see another sex scandal in the White House. ENFP's are notorious bedhoppers. I don't think Obama is this type of person.