Obama and Me
I have by this time written and posted maybe two dozen articles bitterly decrying the ruinous ascendancy of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. In developing my arguments, I have used every discrediting metaphor and analogy I could think of -- Obama as a defective scholar, as a greedy restaurateur, as a mad apologist, as a Science Fiction Destructor, as a sorcerer’s apprentice, as a sly feline, as a flamboyant orchid, as President Stuxnet, as an arboreal lycopod, as an arrogant college sophomore with failing grades, as a Burgher of Schilda, as the Playboy of the Western World, as the Pied Piper, as Zartan who assumes the identity of the president in the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, as the reincarnation of the false messiah Sabbatai Zevi, and more. I have even suffered nightmares in which he appears like a spook out of the yawning earth to haunt a terrified people.
But it didn’t start out that way. After 9/11 and the attendant shock to my soft-left political convictions, I embarked on a prolonged period of historical and political study culminating in my 2007 book, The Big Lie. Though I had by then become deeply conservative in my thinking and allegiances, this new orientation did not prevent me from admiring various worthy politicians in the Liberal Party of Canada and the Democratic Party in the U.S. And like so many others among the deluded, I was originally highly impressed by Barack Obama.
When I first heard about Obama as a rising star in the Democratic Party, a man so refreshingly different from his predecessors and contemporaries, I was intensely curious and quite favorably disposed toward the youngish, African-American legislator and author. And when I gleaned from my local newspaper that he might harbor aspirations to the White House, I found myself very much in his corner, one of his many Canadian fans. He had an effect similar to the new car smell, appropriately called “outgassing” in the trade, which is often irresistible to prospective buyers.
Naturally, I wished to learn as much as I could about the man who represented an unprecedented phenomenon on the American political scene. I soon discovered that very little of substance was known about this rara avis and so began a disciplined search for more information. Within months I had accumulated a towering stack of articles, commentaries, editorials, and diverse kinds of documentary materials, much of this stuff mere unfocused adulation and adjectival irrelevance but many of these items of a distinctly troubling nature. His autobiographies notwithstanding, I was soon caught in the grip of a profound paradox. It seemed the more I knew, the less I knew. But this “less” was more than enough to convince me, by the time he had won the Democratic nomination, that Obama was everything he presumably was not.
I had finally amassed enough documentation to determine that he was not the centrist he affected to be but a far-left ideologue, that he was a gyrating opportunist who could reverse his proclamations on a dime to suit the occasion, that he had neither knowledge of nor competence in the complexities of foreign affairs, that he was an unabashed plagiarist in his stump speeches, that there was no chance of him becoming a “post racial” president but rather a demagogue who would sharpen racial tensions, that his grasp of real-world economics was shaky to non-existent, that he was an unnervingly ignorant man (e.g. the Austrian language) as well as a showboat (e.g., the fake classical pillars), that he was associated with some of the most dubious people in the political, academic, and religious communities, and that he would waste little time putting the screws on Israel while flattering and appeasing the Islamic world.
True, Obama had done a masterful job obscuring both his past and his intentions, reminding me of John Dryden’s depiction of poetaster Thomas Shadwell in his great poem, "Mac Flecknoe":
Shadwell’s genuine night admits no ray,
His rising fogs prevail upon the day.
Nonetheless, despite the dearth of salient information -- the birth certificate flap, the mystery of his upbringing, the sealed college and university records, the lack of authoritative publications in his field, the undisclosed campaign donations, financial statements and professional clients list, and so on -- there was sufficient evidence (or the crucial lack of obligatory evidence) to suggest that he would probably turn out to be one of the most reckless and divisive presidents in the entire panorama of American history. Nor was I surprised to learn that Obama’s The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream was translated in Indonesia, where he spent his formative years, as Assault Hope: From Jakarta to the White House (Menerjang Harapan: Dari Jakarta Menuju Gedung Putih). According to the American expatriate who made this piquant discovery in 2007, the Indonesian title definitively implies a “hopeful assault” or “struggle for victory,” that is, a “jihad.” It’s hard to believe that Obama was not aware of the substitution. What it may possibly signify is up to the reader to decide.
The irony was that Obama had been received into the heart of a significant portion of the American public as a sort of redeemer, even as a “god,” in Evan Thomas’ famous and ludicrous formulation. Mulling over such idolatry, I recalled those lines from Elizabethan poet Fulke Greville’s Mustapha, tweaked slightly in the application:
Yet when each of us in his own heart looks
He finds the god there far unlike his books.
To return, my interest in the man which had begun so auspiciously had morphed into a visceral loathing of everything he stood for and articulated with the ventriloquial collaboration of his nigh-indispensable teleprompter. Oleg Atbashian, author of Shakedown Socialism, writes that he feels “queasy” when listening to one of Obama’s press conferences. I, too, had arrived at the point where I could no longer listen to those lying cadences without reaching for the off button, and had to rely on printed reports in the newspapers to stay abreast of his pronouncements.
And still, I often had to swallow hard. What I found equally galling was the free pass he had been given by the dreamstream media and the Leftosphere in general, which garnished every faux pas, every lame decision, every piece of vacant bombast as an illustration of Obama’s unquestionable genius. It reminded me of the way Greeks tend to treat their students and children, as never failed to amaze me during the years I lived in the country. They ask a boy his name. “Takis,” he says. “Bravo,” they reply. In what other country, I used to wonder, do you get praised for knowing your name? (Actually, in our “self-esteem” education system, we are not far behind.) A Canadian friend of mine who teaches at a premier college in Athens joked: “In school the categories that correspond to our Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, etc., are: Angelic, Wonderful, Marvelous, and if you fail everything and are nabbed cheating, Room for Improvement.” In the same way, Obama’s report card glitters for every subject he has mangled beyond recognition.
By then I had decided that it was my moral duty to expose him in my writing and conversation for the charlatan and threat I knew him to be. As Frank Fleming has so aptly put it, “what a disaster it would be to appoint a mediocre legislator full of empty platitudes as president.” Indeed and rather absurdly, I felt a bit like a Paul Revere riding into the environing darkness to alert the unwary. It wasn’t long before I was knocked off my horse.