At Ricochet, Rob Long responds to Kloppenberg’s profile in the Gray Lady and adds:
Let’s focus on the idea that Barack Obama is a “philosopher president.” What a spectacular piece of delusional straw-grasping idiocy! How perfectly it encapsulates the unplugged, unhinged cocoon of the academic left.It’s an analysis that has a delicious appeal, of course, to Barack Obama’s most loyal following. Here’s the punch line:
Those who heard Mr. Kloppenberg present his argument at a conference on intellectual history at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center responded with prolonged applause. “The way he traced Obama’s intellectual influences was fascinating for us, given that Obama’s academic background seems so similar to ours,” said Andrew Hartman, a historian at Illinois State University who helped organize the conference.
That’s really all you need to know, isn’t it, about our arrogant, out of touch, and hyper-vain president? He reminds that puffed-up, flatulent class of academic hoo-has of themselves! Applause, applause! He’s just like us! We, too, could be presidents. Well, philosopher presidents.
Of course, there was an earlier American president who went almost immediately from academia to the White House, with little more than a cup of coffee at lesser elected office along the way.
In 2008, both as a candidate and as president-elect, the media frequently — and in retrospect with staggering absurdity — compared Obama to some of the most respected presidents in American history: Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy. (And Obama was more than willing to feed into the charade himself.) But there was one wartime president whose name was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath as Obama, which brings us to John Steele Gordon in Commentary:
I’ve just finished reading Louis Auchincloss’s mini-biography of Woodrow Wilson (part of the “Penguin Lives” series), and I was struck by the similarities between the country’s first liberal president and the man who might be its last (I know, I know, ever the optimist).Wilson was, at heart, an academic, the author of several books, (including Congressional Government, still in print after 125 years). He thought and acted like a professor even after he entered politics. Wilson always took it for granted, for instance, that he was the smartest guy in the room and acted accordingly. Does that sound familiar? Wilson was a remarkably powerful orator. (It was he who revived the custom of delivering the State of the Union message in person, a custom that had been dropped by Thomas Jefferson, a poor and most reluctant public speaker.)
Both men had very short public careers before the White House. Wilson’s only pre-presidential office was two years as Governor of New Jersey. And Wilson thought he had a pipeline to God, which allowed him to divine what was best for the world and gave him a moral obligation to give it to the world whether the world wanted it or not. This last tendency, evident even when he was president of Princeton University, became more pronounced with age as a series of debilitating strokes (the first at age 40) increasingly rigidified his personality.
Both Wilson and Obama were the subjects of remarkable public adulation, and both won the Nobel Peace Prize for their aspirations rather than their accomplishments. In Wilson’s case, at least, it only increased his sense of being God’s instrument on earth. Although the Republicans had won majorities just before Armistice Day in November 1918, in both houses of Congress — and the Senate’s consent by a two-thirds majority would be necessary to ratify any treaty — Wilson shut them out of any say in the treaty he went to Paris to negotiate with the other victorious powers. Obama, of course, shut the Republicans out of any say in both the stimulus bill and ObamaCare.
Jonah Goldberg (who along with Glenn Beck and Reason’s Charles Paul Freund) has done much in recent years to remind Americans of their forgotten decade of the 20th century, much to the New York Times’ chagrin. As he wrote in February of 2008 in the Christian Science Monitor, “You want a more ‘progressive’ America? Careful what you wish for — Voters should remember what happened under Woodrow Wilson.”
But they didn’t — and Obama’s core constituency wasn’t about to remind them, perhaps in part because they’ve voluntary deleted most of the details of this era of American history from their own memory banks as well.
(Bumped to top.)