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Ed Driscoll

Birth of the Cool

August 6th, 2010 - 5:05 pm

Michael Gerson dubs President Obama “The accidental president;” Orrin Judd posits one likely reason for Obama’s hauteur and detachment:

Actually, Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton share an important characteristic and share it with Ronald Reagan (among other leaders): the absent or virtually absent father [*]. This absence helps explain their ambition–the need to be tacitly approved of–but it did leave the three with some apparent emotional issues.Perhaps to the current president’s credit, he does not don a mask of false openness as his two peers did. While Ronald Reagan appears to have genuinely liked other people and to have disliked remarkably few, he was, nevertheless, so self-contained after growing up with an alcoholic father and dominant mother that he didn’t have room in his emotional life for much more than Nancy, thus his unhappy relations with even his own kids. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, seems to have developed into almost a sociopath, able to fake emotions at Ron Brown’s funeral one minute and yuck it up the next and acting the playful rogue in public while accosting or even, by various reports, raping women in private. At any rate, both men were rather different in one sphere of their lives than in the other.

Now it is certainly possible that we will one day discover that the cold and distant–even vacant–public persona that Mr. Obama presents is similarly hiding some much different private man, but, based on current evidence, it seems more likely that he is pretty much the cipher he presents as. After all, he has no religious beliefs, no political convictions, few if any friends, a wife who doesn’t much respect him, and he spends every chance he gets on the golf course–essentially alone.

Rather than being reserved, the cardboard cut-out may be Mr. Obama in his entirety.

[* Compare and contrast with the two three recent presidents who were sons of powerful fathers--JFK and both Bushes--who basically competed with and ultimately topped their examples. All three were quite comfortable in their own skins and made friends easily. GHWB was a tad too upper class to ever be entirely at home with the hoi polloi, but the other two were comfortable in any milieu.]

And speaking of detachment from the American people, mid-20th century Democrats at least once affected a populist tone, no matter how strained it seemed in the case of FDR and JFK. So much for that idea, Roger L. Simon writes:

Several weeks ago I wrote I thought Barack Obama didn’t really want to be president. The post generated a fair amount of discussion, pro and con.

Michelle’s $375,000 Spanish vacation — with the Daily Mail dubbing her a “modern-day Marie Antoinette” — is further proof of my thesis. What man who wanted to be re-elected (or see his party do well in November) would let his wife go off on such an “excellent adventure” in these economic times? Of course no one denies the right of people to have vacations – I’m coming to the end of one myself on my beloved Bainbridge Island — but closing Mediterranean beaches while booking 60-plus rooms in a five star Marbella hotel for her entourage? It is beyond tone deaf, perhaps to the level of subconscious (or even deliberate) self-sabotage.

At the very least, something most peculiar is going on. The first lady goes off on a jaunt worthy of 18th Century aristocracy at the very moment of her husband’s birthday. Is somebody trying to tell us something? Is somebody trying to tell her spouse something? Or vice-versa? Who knows? You won’t find out in the mainstream media — that’s for sure. They don’t even bother to check Obama’s college records. Perhaps the National Enquirer is on the case. They may be the only hope.

If I were still a member of the Democratic Party, I would be most concerned. What is going on in the White House seems to be so disconnected from the reality of our country — with some indicating real unemployment at a staggering 22% — as to be teetering on the brink of a pyschological disorder. And in this case that disorder would be a folie a deux of some sort because Barack and Michelle appear to be colluding in it in some way, whatever the state of their relationship. And that disconnect — between them and the American people — is growing.

Why is this happening?

Read on for some thoughts that Roger quotes from Dr. Sam Vaknin, the author of Malignant Self Love, appropriately enough.

Related: “Put it all together, and Obama has disconnected at a fundamental level from almost half the population, or that population has disconnected from him.”

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