Toward the end of the romantic comedy film The American President, Michael Douglas’s President Shepherd tells the assembled press corps, “Being president of this country is entirely about character.” This 1995 movie was made as a way of rescuing the scurrilous character of Bill Clinton from accusations of womanizing. It’s a pleasant and entertaining film but this line of dialogue, like just about everything else in the picture, is untrue.
Being president of this country is somewhat about character — everything in life is — but it is also, very much, about ideas.
There have been times over this past summer when I have felt I was living in Night of Camp David. Most people probably don’t remember that old thriller but it was by a once-famous bestselling novelist named Fletcher Knebel. It dealt with a senator who began to suspect the commander-in-chief was insane and couldn’t get anyone to believe him. Watching Obama’s narcissistic personality disorder rise to the surface as, one after another, his policies have imploded has given me that Knebellian sense of anxiety.
One of the ugliest summer moments — representative of so many others — was that grinning Martha’s Vineyard golf game the commander-in-chief played after his apparently solemn reaction to the Muslim beheading of American reporter James Foley. After taking some heat for the PR gaffe, the president remarked ruefully, “I should’ve anticipated the optics.” Yes, he probably should’ve at least pretended to give a damn for a couple of more hours.
On the right, the president’s actions are interpreted in various ways. There are those who think Obama is everything from an Islamist mole to merely an Alinksyite Communist and that his intention is to destroy a country he despises, which just happens to be the same one he leads. More plausibly, my friend and colleague Bill Whittle has just released an absolutely brutal video called “President Coward,” and while the title speaks for itself, it’s worth watching all the way through for the evidence Bill expertly presents.
My own feeling is that Obama is a hapless putz who genuinely believed his leftist ideas would make the world a better place and has gone into deep denial at the disaster he’s helped create here and around the globe.
But the larger point is: it doesn’t matter as much as all that. The character of the man the media and the rest of the left greeted as, to use Barbara Walters’ term, “the next messiah,” is of deep human interest of course. But one day in the not too distant future, he will be gone from the world stage. Another president will take his place.
His ideas, however, will remain. The idea that the government should be allowed to seize private property and “spread the wealth” for the good of all; the idea that mass equality is more important than individual liberty; the idea that all cultures deserve the same respect; the idea that white Christianity is to blame for the ills of other nations; the idea that America — America as it was founded — is the problem rather than the last, best hope of earth…
These ideas are all untrue and the policies that arise from them are always disastrous. They destroy economies and lives at home and leave lesser nations and worse cultures to their horrifying fates without the hope and protection of a great and free people. Obama, like the song says, is “only for now.” But those ideas — his legacy and the legacy of his leftist ilk — are the deathless enemies of freedom. They must be engaged and defeated anew in every generation. Obama is pretty much yesterday. The hard work of restoring our country and the world still lies ahead.