Barack Obama's Narrative Illusions

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For the past few days I have been regretting my inability to sell two op-eds I wrote when Barack Obama was first running for president. Both failed to win the favor of the editors of the Wall Street Journal and other fine venues — I suspect because they were, essentially, novelistic insights offered as journalism. But as it turned out (since I’m really quite a good novelist!) they were both rather perspicacious and I wish I had gotten them into print.


One of them was about the peculiar way Barack Obama lies, which is not like the way other politicians lie. Our own Roger Simon has just posted a thoughtful and insightful essay on this very subject. And I, when I couldn’t sell my op-ed, put some of my observations into my Klavan on the Culture video series “Talking Crap” (see above). So the idea is now pretty well covered.

The other unpublished op-ed, however, is more to the point of the present moment. It was based on Obama’s answer to the usual campaign question: “Why do you want to be president?” His answer, which I can no longer find to quote verbatim, had to do with how inspiring it would be to black children to see him sworn in on Inauguration Day.

That, I wrote at the time, is not a reason to be president. It’s a reason to play the president, as an actor plays a role. In this long-ago unpublished op-ed, I used my novelistic x-ray vision to look into the then-candidate’s soul and point out that this was not a man who actually wanted to do — or was even capable of doing — the work of a chief executive. He just thought it would be an all around Good Thing if he could live out his fantasy of being in that part.

It is now apparent to any honest observer that Obama is a rank incompetent too arrogant and foolish to alter his political philosophy even after reality has proven it false. As his record at the time of his original candidacy should have warned us, he has no business in the Oval Office. He simply isn’t up for the job.


And what is extra tragicomical about Obama’s spectacular failure is that so many of the journalists who cover him are ALSO content to have him play rather than be the president — just as they themselves are content to play at heroically helping the poor and minorities even as their left-wing policies make the poor even poorer and the marginalized more marginalized still.

The reason for this is that both Obama and many of our journalists were trained in the post-modern academy where they were taught that there is no such thing as moral truth but only culturally inculcated narratives. In such a world, the moral narrative that can be drummed into the head of the populace is the truth that wins. Convincing people that a good has been achieved is the same as achieving it.

Within the narrative cloud created by these journalists, Obama remains safe in his illusions while the rest of us suffer the consequences. He believes that playing the president and being the president are much the same thing. It is as if Bruce Willis believed he could save a skyscraper full of people by jumping off the roof clutching a fire hose.

For those of us who face the world head on? We don’t need Mulder and Scully to tell us:  the truth is out there. Obama has lost the gains of the Iraq war and sacrificed the lives of our soldiers in Afghanistan to no purpose. He has alienated our allies in Germany, France and, God help us, Saudi Arabia, while playing the fool for our enemies in Iran and Russia. He has ruthlessly curtailed free speech by abusing the powers of the IRS against his political opponents, spying on and persecuting journalists, and encouraging the imprisonment of a video maker to suit his political ends. He has brutally hobbled our economy with anti-business regulations written by the very legislators who brought on the recession in the first place. And now, through lies and corrupt political machinations, he has saddled us with a chaotic and overbearing health care law that, even when operational, will never be worth its weight in debt and curtailed liberties.


He has done all that — and when his second term is over, he can look forward to a life of making speeches to students and waving at crowds and giving interviews to fawning journalists who will all be charmed into historical ignorance by what they feel was his Oscar-worthy performance as President of the United States.

But in this left-wing country of the blind, even a one-eyed man can see: Obama’s political achievements, like Hillary Clinton’s political achievements, like Ben Kingsley’s role in freeing India from British rule, are all of a piece — a narrative illusion foisted on us by those who do not believe there is any truth to tell.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using a modified image.)



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