Jurassic President

I’ve read discussions about President Obama for the last two years -- is he a villain or a fool? Both or neither?

The answers vary and make for heated debate, but sooner or later we have to admit neither covers all facts. For instance, neither villain nor fool covers his odd, time-displaced “Sputnik” moments: his obsession with unionized labor, or his fascination with trains, or his commitment to the SALT treaty, or his view of Cleveland as a cutting edge technological center, or his odd certainty that cars getting eight miles per gallon throng our highways.

All through the last two years, I’ve been sure this was all a movie I’d seen before. I was right.

Remember how in Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton had dinosaurs recreated from dinosaur DNA frozen in amber and coupled with frog DNA? Remember how it all went awry because these time displaced creatures couldn’t safely exist in the modern world?

Jurassic President starts with the soft-lighted comparisons between Obama and FDR leading up to the 2009 swearing-in. People who weren’t on board with the ethos of Obama’s campaign rolled their eyes and mumbled things like depression chic and there they go again, but I submit to you that Obama believed it. He not only thought he was the new FDR, he thought the world wanted and needed a new FDR. He knew FDR was the change we’d all been waiting for.

Other reports followed, such as that he had decided to run for president to undo Reagan’s presidency and get us back to where we’d have been if Carter had been elected a second time.

I know right about this time, you’re scratching your heads and wondering how he could mean this nonsense. I think the sheer absurdity has kept us from seeing Jurassic President for what he is. Because here, in the early 21st century, we have our doubts about how good FDR was for the country after all and, frankly, we’ve been making jokes about Jimmy Carter since -- well, since Jimmy Carter was president.

But Obama is not in the early 21st century, or not in the same 21st century the rest of us inhabit. Instead, he’s preserved in the amber of an echo chamber where the romanticized version of the thirties seen through the new-agey 1970s is paradise. In his circles, denying this vision is akin to insisting the sky is made of cheese.

I don’t share his view, but I can understand it because we do move in intellectually similar circles.

As an author and, further, a science fiction author, and as someone who has moved in and out of academic circles over the years, I know that artists, academics, and self-described intellectuals have self-selected themselves into an almost parallel universe of leftist chic and wishful thinking.

In that universe, if only Carter had served a second term, we’d have all-green-energy, caring, helpful, gentle, earth-loving communities, no competition, and a mandated minimum wage of $100 per hour that somehow works perfectly and doesn’t bankrupt any businesses.

How wonderful it all would be depends on how far left the thinker is, but you’d not be out of place insisting that, say, instead of falling, the USSR would have opened up to the world and reformed their model into an utopia of "true communism." (A total lack of contact with history, economics, and practical realities helps in believing all this.) Ronald Reagan had never been elected...

I submit to you that Obama was raised by people who believed all of this with the intensity of messianic religious faith. Being about my age, Carter versus Reagan was the electoral contest that ushered him into adulthood.  Unlike me, because of his upbringing, he saw the results as others view the expulsion from earthly paradise.

He heard all our economic and social problems had to do with the weakening power of unions. He heard our trimming back of the social net made us harsher and "meaner" than other nations in the world. (That's something that erupted from his wife’s mouth during the election campaign).  He heard that Reagan would bring about another war and only preemptive surrender would save humanity. He heard -- and believed -- that our loss of close-knit communities had to do with the evil and selfish Republican policies. (Instead of the automobile, suburbs, technology, and a hundred other things.) He heard we needed someone to save our soul; to take us back to the time of FDR, or at least Jimmy Carter.