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The Un-Bama

Perhaps the GOP should choose a candidate in 2012 who contrasts in every way with our rock star president.

by
Bill Siegel

Bio

December 2, 2009 - 12:41 am
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Democrats frequently counter objections to President Barack Obama by pointing out that the Republicans have no one who could beat him in the 2012 election. The suggestion is that no Republican figure has emerged who has the characteristics to challenge the spell Obama cast over his voters in 2008, including physical attractiveness, media savvy, poise, celebrity, the appearance of intellectual fluidity, and so on. Perhaps this is counterproductive thinking. What may be needed is someone with the exact opposite traits, skills, and character: the Un-Bama.

Obama’s most noteworthy feature is his charisma. Some fraction of this is simply due to his race, as most of the nation took pleasure in the election of the first black president — regardless of party. Yet Obama’s charisma allowed him to assemble an entranced following typically ascribed to either those who have already performed heroic acts or those, such as cult figures, who promise utopian futures to their spellbound subjects. Obama’s campaign of “hope and change” clearly places him in the second category.

Obama was “cool” — the trait Saturday Night Live was ultimately able to parody without upsetting NBC’s close relationship with the administration. Learning to keep his cool and not anger whites was one of the potent skills he wrote about in his supposedly revealing book, Dreams from My Father.

These two strengths have shaped a great deal of Obama’s public performances to date. He is now trying to reinforce the image he sold his followers during the campaign.

And his “coolness” abounds everywhere. When our enemies kick sand in his face, Obama does not get enraged, does not stand up to them, and does not set limits or say “no.” Rather, he takes out any anger he might feel on our allies, making every effort to never give the enemy anything to dislike about him (similar, perhaps, to his self-described method of navigating around white America during his youth).

Saying whatever is politically expedient is also an Obama signature move. Feeling pressured to demonstrate machismo, he campaigned on the principle that the Afghanistan war was a “necessity.” He has been trying ever since to find a way out of this hole he dug for himself. He has no problem talking about the jobs he will create or “save” (whatever that means) or the fact that he will only sign a “deficit-neutral” health care bill. Then there’s the idea that he will solicit Republican views in developing his plans, or that he will not allow “engagement” with Iran or North Korea to roll on endlessly, or that he had nothing to do with Attorney General Eric Holder’s almost treasonous plan to try 9/11 defendants in New York courts, and so on. Living up to his word has never been an operational constraint for this president.

And saying little is his expertise. Obama, the proficient law student and law lecturer, is well trained in “issue spotting” –  being able to articulate both sides of an issue. Perhaps his most effective public manipulation lies in his ability to briefly state something worth recognizing on the other side of an issue, thus convincing the audience that because he can see the complexity of our problems he must know the best solution.

Obama will frequently answer a tough question by saying “on the one hand we want X, while on the other we certainly must be concerned with Y.” He will avoid a clear answer, inviting the audience to  trust to him on the presumption that, because he could mention something of value to both sides, he must be best suited to work out the optimal compromise. The liberal media fell completely for this simple and cheap trick. Meanwhile, Obama, the hustler, never intended to solve any problem with any solution other than one from the far left.

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