From Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal today:
But he seems increasingly passive. He is not passive when it comes to his political fortunes—he goes out and speaks and tries to rally the base—but even there, and certainly when it comes to governing, he seems bored, as if operating at a remove. Valerie Jarrett was once quoted saying he’s so exceptionally gifted that he’s been bored most of his life. It seems to me more likely an exceptionally gifted person would be exceptionally interested in and alive to the wonder and drama of things. I think her meaning was that only the most demanding and important of jobs would consistently arouse his engagement and focus. But he seems pretty bored as president…
The aspect of the presidency he seems to enjoy most is the perks—the splashy vacations, the planes, the hoops, the golf. When his presidency is over there will be the perks of the post-presidency—foundations, libraries, million-dollar speeches, staff, protection. A literary agent estimated he’ll get up to $20 million for his memoirs, Michelle Obama perhaps $12 million. So no, you don’t get the impression he’ll have to suffer for where he stands, or who he is.
Jarrett’s observation about the man who is, at least nominally, her boss has received a lot of attention since its appearance in David Remnick’s biography of Obama, The Bridge. And it certainly fits right in with the media-fueled notion that the Pride of Punahou is intellectually brilliant — a judgment not shared, by the way, by Obama’s fellow students at Harvard Law, who created the “Obamamometer” to measure his epic-scale apple-polishing. As some idiot wrote over at National Review Online a few years back:
So the other day, I was having lunch on the patio at Orso’s with a fellow screenwriter, and as we watched all the suits making deals that didn’t include us, all the actresses who aren’t going to be in our movies, and all the agents who won’t return our phone calls, this writer leaned over to me and whispered, “Have you heard about the Obamamometer?”
I won’t keep you in suspense. Turns out that this writer knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who went to Harvard Law with B. Hussein Obama Jr., and, the story goes, such was Barry’s monumental capacity for sucking up to his professors that the “Obamamometer” was established to calibrate and quantify the most egregious, shameless brown-nosing, and it quickly became the gold standard of Uriah Heep-dom in Cambridge, Mass. “That was a 10 on the Obamamometer,” the Harvard men and women would whisper when someone rose to the unctuous level of Barry at his best. Who knows, maybe they still do.
Still, in the words of historian Michael Beschloss, Obama’s the “smartest guy ever to become president” — words that, no doubt, Beschloss would like to eat right about now: