Duck! and Gather

American Turnings, Presidents, and the Enneagram

Posted on: January 2, 2007

After the series of blog postings I did on a model linking new American music genres with American social turnings, and after noticing that the messiah-wanna-be Barack Obama seems to side with the People versus Corporations, I got a hunch that maybe there was a link between these turnings (specifically, the crises), American Presidents during the crises, and the Enneagram. Sure enough, studying the matter closely, I concluded that George Washington (Commander-in-Chief during the Revolutionary War), Abraham Lincoln (President during the Civil War), and Franklin Roosevelt (President during the Great Depression and World War II), all were Enneagram “Seven” types.

Looking at the list of viable Presidential candidates for 2008, I concluded that Obama was the only Seven among them. And given that, as I mention above, he seems a tad anti-Corporate, I made the rash decision to predict that Obama would win the Presidency in 2008, even though still, as of this writing, he hasn’t even announced that he’s running.

It’s not like that I like this guy any more or less than I like anybody else. Like Love Lovett once sang, I love everybody. Still, I see Obama just as yet another messiah-wanna-be in American history. But more than two centuries of American history say that when the sh#$ hits the fan in America, America always seems to turn its lonely eyes to one of these self-styled messiahs.

Moreover, the last two such messiahs have appointed ultimately victorious generals who seem to have been Enneagram “Fives” (namely, Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower).

This fascinates me. A year ago, I podcasted that, as a nation, American “culture”, such that it is, seems to be of the Enneagram “Eight” type. So perhaps one might expect that during our nation-defining crises, we People would elect an Eight to take us through the crisis. And short of that, maybe one would expect that the general who brings us victory would be an Eight. Yet this is not what I have found. Instead, we Americans seem to fall for messianic Sevens who turn to plodding, determined, highly-organized Fives to bring an end to the crisis.

This fascinates me because it suggests the reason why I seem to love America so. America loves the ideal of the Eight — the go-it-alone person of strength who acts forcefully to protect the innocent. Of course, during “peacetime”, we’re a land of selfish self-interested bullies who pretend to be all about “justice” and “process”, but really we’re all just about ourselves. This is the downside of the Eight which leads us into the crises. But then during each crisis, the upside of the Eight is reborn anew, and the nation becomes even more emotionally healthy.

Yet this dance of the Eight toward enlightenment is manifested by personalities other than Eights (namely, Sevens and Fives playing major roles). This, I believe, makes for a truly singular nation in history.

Here are my podcasts on this:

(113) American Turnings, Presidents, and the Enneagram: The Model. It seems that every U.S. President in office during American crises — Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt — were Enneagram 7 types. Moreover, the winning generals of the last two — Grant and Eisenhower — seemed to have been 5s.
(114) American Turnings, Presidents, and the Enneagram: Where are the 8s? Since the crisis Presidents were 7s, and their generals were 5s, how is that America is an 8 country? We find our answer in George Mason.

4 Responses to "American Turnings, Presidents, and the Enneagram"

Not sure why you’re thinking Barack Obama is a Seven. Seems definitely more like a harmony-valuing Nine to me, able to see all sides and seeking consensus. Has a strong connection to Three. Most Enneagram writers and teachers I know think Abraham Lincoln was another Nine, along with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. John F. Kennedy seems a better example of a president of the Seven personality type. As for the U.S., I’d say it’s much more Three these days than Eight, valuing “making it”, being successful, rich, beautiful eternally energetic and youthful. There’s a lot of not-so-healthy Sixes in charge at the moment, however, and they are being hostile and aggressive in response to their paranoia.

Thant’s ny take. 🙂


Yay! A non-spam insightful comment! It’s been so long. So first, let me say thank you Ao for your comment and question.

Actually, I’ve been looking for a few minutes to spare to do a posting called “All Hail the Messiah Obama”. Don’t get me wrong: I’m so looking forward to that guy winning. I do believe that with him, the country has shot at averting the worst of the crises I’ve been predicting. I don’t think anybody else is even a close second.

That being said, let me answer your question directly: I think most in the Enneagram community don’t get the following: The theory is not about what we admire in others. Rather, it’s about what we don’t admire.

In other words, that Obama is clearly “able to see all sides and seeking consensus” is an admirable trait and thus this tells us very little about his personality type. To understand what that type is, we need to look at what we don’t like about Obama. It’s in that dirty soil that we will find his personality type.

In my future posting, I’m going to write about his moving, passionate Iowa victory speech. Gave me goose bumps. Made me so look forward to my upcoming citizenship interview. I so love this country, and bless Obama, he gets it.

And at the same time, I’ll be writing about the parts of his speech that shows he thinks of himself as the messiah. This is a 7 trait. Sevens are born and live their lives quietly (or not so) suspecting they are the messiah. Once in awhile, we get one like Obama who actually does more than a passable imitation. Nines never see themselves as the messiah.

When you get the chance, please read my short paper that summarizes my Personality & the Brain book. It’s at: .

[…] Back in 2006, when I predicted that Obama would become the next U.S. president, I explained that the basis for my prediction rested in part on the apparent Ennegram personality type of Obama. In my view, Obama is an Enneagram […]

[…] anything about the Enneagram, you’ll recognize this as a classic “7″ play. And as I blogged years ago, Obama’s 7-ness is core to the reason why I predicted in 2006 that he’d win the presidency and lead us on […]

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