A column by Maureen Dowd entitled The Clinton Contamination is trending on Twitter as I write. Conservatives especially are all — so to speak — a-twitter to have such a reliable leftist voice raised against the left’s standard bearer. I’ve never been a fan of Dowd’s but I’ve always respected her unwillingness to abandon her feminist principles to follow the Clintons down the rabbit hole of abuse and corruption. I wish some conservatives would learn from her example before they ditch their principles to traipse after Donald Trump.
But what struck me about the Dowd column was its view of Barack Obama. Dowd writes that the Clintons are so awful that they’ve “contaminated three of the purest brands in Washington — Barack Obama, James Comey and Loretta Lynch.” This view of Obama as pure is not just Dowd’s. It’s the official narrative of the fantasy world that is the New York Times op-ed page — or, as I like to call it, Knucklehead Row.
“The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free,” wrote David Brooks on the Row in February. “To his opponents, this president’s greatest sins are his success and his self,” wrote Charles Blow. And Obama is “one of the most successful presidents in American history,” says Paul Krugman, who may have heard all about it on the same tinfoil hat through which he receives his economic policies.
All this is simple childishness, the journalistic equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and whistling Dixie so you don’t have to hear the bad news. Whether you agree with Obama or not, the fact remains that his administration has been wracked with scandal from the IRS to Fast and Furious to the persecution of journalists to Benghazi to the lies about Bowe Bergdahl to the lies and dirty deals used to pass Obamacare to the lies used to push the Iran nuclear deal and on and on. Just because the New York Times has responded to these scandals with a curious lack of interest in no way means they didn’t exist.
As for Obama’s success, a fair journalist might at least consider his disastrous mishandling of the Middle East, the economic crumbling of Obamacare, the out-of-control debt, a recovery that never quite takes off because of feverish over-regulation and (did I mention?) Obamacare, and of course the upsurge in racial tension which the president has stoked with his reckless pre-judgements of the police and his false 1970s view of America.
The desperate need of left-wing journalists to see Obama as “pure” and “most successful” — to see him as they’ve reported him instead of how he is — is in part a result of the racial pathology of the left, its tendency to reduce people to their victim group. The notion that “the first black president” has been a failure would be, according to this way of thinking, a nasty slight against a race rather than, what it is, an indictment of bad ideas and their consequences.
But there is also this: Obama possesses the narcissist’s gift of drawing people into his own imagination of himself, that imagination in which he is never to blame. “I said I’d end the war in Iraq and I ended it,” he crowed in 2012. Then in 2014, when his decision to withdraw our troops was shaping up to be a disaster: “What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.” In 2012, trying to show that he was on top of the deteriorating situation in Syria, Obama said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” In 2013, when it became clear Syria was out of control and that chemical weapons had been used and Obama wasn’t going to do anything about it: “I didn’t set a red line.” Obama has repeatedly rushed to judgement on police incidents involving blacks and he and his minions have abused his political opponents in the most uncivil terms imaginable, including comparing them to the Islamic terrorists he doesn’t even admit exist. But when, on his watch, the country becomes so divided that it now simmers with violence, American against American, suddenly America is not “as divided as some have suggested.”
Narcissists do this. Their egos are so fragile they can accept no responsibility for their bad actions. But the fact that the Times and the networks and the rest of the elite media have decided to make Obama’s personality disorder their own has only contributed to the frustration and anger felt by principled parties on both sides. Any moderately fair observer must look at the situation we’re in — the violence in our homeland, the anger of our people, an election that has boiled down to a choice between a blowhard and a crook — and think: Something has gone terribly wrong with our country over the last eight years and surely our leader must have had at least a part to play in that.
That the media can’t see this is a kind of blindness, a blindness they seem to have caught, in part, from Obama’s weird idea of his own blamelessness.
Call it The Obama Contamination.
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