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The Distraction of Obama's Character

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.