Ed Driscoll

The 'Bam Who Fell To Earth

Somebody named Froma Harrop writes at Rasmussen that voters should stop “Blaming Obama for Not Being a God.”

I dunno — he was marketed as a God by his most fervent supporters; he sold himself as a God, employing all sorts of eschatological imagery, as did his wife. And as late as June of 2009, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, the grandson of Norman Thomas, a six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America, was still enjoying Heaven on Earth when he declared that the president was “sort of God.” Why shouldn’t Americans expect the man who had the hubris to read “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” on his teleprompter in 2008 not, you know, perform as God when needed.

President Clinton at least had his southern Good Ol’ Boy persona to fall back on when he was in over his head, or engulfed in a scandal that emerged from what David Brooks would call the Big Shaggy. (The First Shaggy? Shag Force One?) But as Dorothy Rabinowitz writes in the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s alienation, the distance between President Obama and the American people “is beginning to be revealed:”

A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind. Churchill, face of our shared wartime struggle, dauntless rallier of his nation who continues, so remarkably, to speak to ours. For a president to whom such associations are alien, ridding the White House of Churchill would, of course, have raised no second thoughts.

Far greater strangeness has since flowed steadily from Washington. The president’s appointees, transmitters of policy, go forth with singular passion week after week, delivering the latest inversion of reality. Their work is not easy, focused as it is on a current prime preoccupation of this White House—that is, finding ways to avoid any public mention of the indisputable Islamist identity of the enemy at war with us. No small trick that, but their efforts go forward in public spectacles matchless in their absurdity—unnerving in what they confirm about our current guardians of law and national security.

Consider the hapless Eric Holder, America’s attorney general, confronting the question put to him by Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas) of the House Judicary Committee on May 13.

Did Mr. Holder think that in the last three terrorist attempts on this soil, one of them successful (Maj. Nidal Hasan’s murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, preceded by his shout of “Allahu Akbar!”), that radical Islam might have played any role at all? Mr. Holder seemed puzzled by the question. “People have different reasons” he finally answered—a response he repeated three times. He didn’t want “to say anything negative about any religion.”

And who can forget the exhortations on jihad by John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s chief adviser on counterterrorism? Mr. Brennan has in the past charged that Americans lack sensitivity to the Muslim world, and that we have particularly failed to credit its peace-loving disposition. In a May 26 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Brennan held forth fervently, if not quite comprehensibly, on who our enemy was not: “Our enemy is not terrorism because terrorism is just a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind, and as Americans we refuse to live in fear.”

He went on to announce, sternly, that we do not refer to our enemies as Islamists or jihadists because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam. How then might we be permitted to describe our enemies? One hint comes from another of Mr. Brennan’s pronouncements in that speech: That “violent extremists are victims of political, economic and social forces.”

Yes, that would work. Consider the news bulletins we could have read: “Police have arrested Faisal Shahzad, victim of political, economic and social forces living in Connecticut, for efforts to set off a car bomb explosion in Times Square.” Plotters in Afghanistan and Yemen, preparing for their next attempt at mass murder in America, could only have listened in wonderment. They must have marvelled in particular on learning that this was the chief counterterrorism adviser to the president of the United States.

Long after Mr. Obama leaves office, it will be this parade of explicators, laboring mightily to sell each new piece of official reality revisionism—Janet Napolitano and her immortal “man-caused disasters” among them—that will stand most memorably as the face of this administration.

It is a White House that has focused consistently on the sensitivities of the world community—as it is euphemistically known—a body of which the president of the United States frequently appears to view himself as a representative at large.

Although Michael Ledeen is right: Obama is more overage undergrad student than transnational cosmopolitan statesman.

On the other, as Jay Cost writes at Real Clear Politics, “some of this must be narcissism.” (Obama? Narcissistic? Really, I can’t see it myself, but for the sake of completeness, here’s more from Cost’s essay):

But some of this must be narcissism. This is, after all, the President who got up on stage to sing “Hey Jude” with Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and Jerry Seinfeld. There is no electoral utility to this sort of spectacle. Obama clearly enjoys the attention that comes with being a super cool Commander in Chief.

One wonders what Cleveland would have to say about this. Actually, the above anecdote gives a hint. Cleveland declined the invitation to the ball field because he worried what the public would think. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economy was just working its way out of a three-year recession when Cleveland started his first term. Perhaps the 22nd President recognized that the American people did not hire him to make appearances at baseball games – let alone opine on what rulings the commissioner should make. He had much bigger fish to fry.

With two wars, a sagging economy, and the worst enviornmental disaster in American history unfolding in the Gulf – Mr. Obama does, too. If he is not too modest to pontificate publicly on such trivial matters, he should at least be too busy.

And anyway, Mr. Obama is a very young man. He will have years of a post-presidency to enjoy his status as a cultural icon slash pundit-at-large. But I doubt ESPN or Beatle Paul will be as interested in hanging out with him if he’s a one termer. So maybe Mr. Obama should learn a lesson from old Grover Cleveland.

Say, if only someone had warned us in 2008 of Obama’s narcissism!

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Incidentally, with all that going on, the ordinarily sympathetic center-left Mediate spots “an epic failure of a lead story on CNN.com,” complete with a screencap, before CNN came to what passes as their senses, with a photo of the President, and the headline, “The risk of being an ‘angry black man.”

Hey, live by identity politics, die by them as well, CNN.

And — this is far too easy, but — they told me if I voted for John McCain, the nation would be stuck with an angry president who can’t control his temper. And they were right!

On the other hand,  all that bluster makes President Obama simply seem exacerbated and bewildered and in over his head. As S.E. Cupp, last seen besting (and I know this isn’t much of a target) Bill Maher writes in the New York Daily News, “Who’s afraid of Barack Obama? Nobody.”

There is someone who’s prepared to help the neophyte executive, though:

My experience (though, granted, I got the message loud and clear during the campaign that my executive experience managing the fastest growing community in the state, and then running the largest state in the union, was nothing compared to the experiences of a community organizer) showed me how government officials and oil execs could scratch each others’ backs to the detriment of the public, and it made me ill. I ran for Governor to fight such practices. So, as a former chief executive, I humbly offer this advice to the President: you must verify. That means you must meet with Hayward. Demand answers.

In the interview today, the President said: “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

Please, sir, for the sake of the Gulf residents, reach out to experts who have experience holding oil companies accountable. I suggested a few weeks ago that you start with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, led by Commissioner Tom Irwin. Having worked with Tom and his DNR and AGIA team led by Marty Rutherford, I can vouch for their integrity and expertise in dealing with Big Oil and overseeing its developments. We’ve all lived and worked through the Exxon-Valdez spill. They can help you. Give them a call. Or, what the heck, give me a call.

Might be wise to give her a ring. Otherwise, at this point, clearly, there’s only one other way left for Obama to break the cycle of his personal malaise.

Update: Steven Den Beste rounds up a variety of quotes uttered last year by people who really should know better, and adds, “What a difference a year makes.”