Living the Smugness!
Asking if Obama was playing the rubes, or if was he a rube himself, The Troglopundit has a great turn of the phrase here:
Ed Driscoll is the latest conservative blogger who’s living the smugness:The Great Barack & War Swindle
…Having just punked the anti-war far left, Obama is similarly asking them — where are you going to go? He’s got them in his pocket.
But: did Obama really “punk” the anti-war left? Or did Obama get punked just like they did?
Some of us warned the voters: Senator Obama was dangerously inexperienced to be considered for the Big Chair. Simply becoming President Obama did not suddenly convey the necessary experience onto him.
Senator Obama had, up to that point, had things easy. How hard is it to become a “community organizer” in an Alinsky-driven political culture like Chicago’s? How hard is it to win a Senate race in overwhelmingly Democratic Illinois against a sex-scandal-shamed Republican?
Obama might be forgiven for not realizing that things can be harder than they appear. So he said all the right things, and made all the right promises, and then he won. And then he found out just how impossible fulfilling all his promises would be.
As much as I love the phrase, which would make a great punk rock album title (BILLY IDOL: LIVING THE SMUGNESS -- NOW OUT ON EMI), I'm not intentionally trying to be smug, let alone "living the smugness" -- but it is amazing to watch the latest in a series of pivots that have gone on for 20 years now:
- It was wrong for George H.W. Bush to have left Saddam Hussein in power.
- Regime change of Iraq under Bill Clinton: Good!
- Regime change of Iraq under George W. Bush: Really, Really, Really Bad!
- It was wrong for George W. Bush to have removed Saddam Hussein from power.
- General Petraeus under George W. Bush’s command: General Betray-us.
- General Petraeus under Barack Obama’s command: help us Obi-Wan Petraeus, you’re our only hope!
Or as Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air, “Awkward: Dems trying to recast Petraeus as a savior:”
And those pivots are coupled, as Ace noted a few years ago, with a remarkable sense of hauteur from the left, that both makes them possible, and ideologically blinds them when they occur:
Liberals have a particularly large gulf between their cherished self-image and their realistic self-awareness. Everyone has this to some extent, of course. I’m not saying it’s unique to liberals, just that they often seem to have an especially big gulf between their idealized view of themselves and a more grounded self-assessment.Again, I don’t want to claim that liberals have cornered the market on inflated self-opinions. However, it seems to me that conservatives have far less reservation about admitting they often act due to simple self-interest. Oh, we’re not eager to offer that admission. But because we believe that human beings are inherently flawed — and on this point religious cons and non-religious cons agree, although not for the exact same list of reasons — we’re less hung-up about admitting we act in our own self-interest for no particular greater good or noble purpose.
Liberals have a big-time hang-up with this. Try extracting this admission from a liberal sometime even in the most nonthreatening way. Most will simply not admit it. Or it will take you two and a half hours you’ll never get back.This is, it hardly needs be said, an enormous bit of self-deception on the part of many liberals. (Generally, the less humorous ones, which is most of them; the funny ones, seeing the flaws of humans (including themselves) more clearly have a much easier time with this.) They have a large amount of self-esteem riding on the proposition that they act almost entirely selflessly and thinking only of others in their daily lives.
I’m not saying they’re more selfish than conservatives. I’m just saying there’s a much larger gulf between their actual level of selfishness and their admitted level of selfishness. Their emotional investment in their presumed near-zero level of mercenary impulse causes them to verge more wildly from reality on this point.
Indeed, many liberals seem to believe they have already pretty much acheived the Buddhist ideal of Nirvana, the complete self-abnegation of the soul so that the world is viewed entirely objectively, from an angle’s high-above-it-all point ov view, rather than subjectively, down on actual planet earth competing and striving against millions of other people doing the same. If you don’t believe me, ask them “Would it be preferable to save an American’s life or a foreigner’s?” [There's more than a Pinch of truth there -- Ed] They will usually decline to express a preference because the destruction of the self and joining of the universal oversoul admits of no feelings of tribal or sectarian loyalties whatsoever; they can’t say “I choose the American if I’m forced to choose” without admitting they haven’t quite attained Nirvana yet.
For serious Buddhists, it’s not hard at all to admit the non-attainment of the ultimate metaphysical state of Nirvana — it’s supposed to be hard, and can take a lifetime. (Or, you know, several lifetimes.) But liberals have this notion that believing in liberalism is itself a very efficient shortcut to that exalted state of emptiness of ego. A Kerry-Edwards bumper-sticker gets you pretty much as far as a lifetime of devotion to the teachings of Krishna.
In a similar vein, a year ago, James W. Ceaser described “The Roots of Obama Worship” at the Weekly Standard:
Postpartisanship, we are told, never meant anything as mundane as dealing with the other party. It referred instead to working with those who embrace the consensus of the new era. It therefore explicitly excludes the bulk of the Republican party, which comprises those who cling stubbornly to their theology and metaphysics. Only those elements that have adapted or evolved qualify as potential postpartisan partners. The standard for inclusion is not an expression of popular will, but criteria supplied by the idea of progress. What has made many Americans increasingly suspicious of the office of leader of Humanity is their growing perception that it rests ultimately on contempt for the people.
The conflicting demands of the Religion of Humanity and the presidency of the United States have become most apparent in the administration’s approach to dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism. The Religion of Humanity, by its own reckoning, admits to facing challenges from two quarters: from those who have not yet fully entered the age of Positivism, which includes the terrorists, and from those who are part of the advanced world but who refuse to embrace it, which includes the likes of George W. Bush. In the present situation, these two groups are understood to have a symbiotic relationship. The existence of the terrorists is regrettable, not only because of the physical threat that they pose, but also because, by doing so, they risk strengthening the hand of those in the West who reject the Religion of Humanity. Supporters of the Religion of Humanity therefore believe they have good reason to deny or minimize the danger of terrorism in order to save the world from the even greater danger of the triumph of the retrograde forces. This is the dogmatic basis of political correctness, and Obama and his team have gone to considerable lengths by their policies and by their use of language to hide reality. But reality has a way of asserting itself, and it is becoming clearer by the day that being the leader of Humanity is incompatible with being the president of the United States. No man can serve two masters.
Which brings us to the various "Norman Coordinate! Norman Coordinate!" moments from the left this weekend.
Back in October of 2008, I did a Silicon Graffiti video on 20 years of rhetorical pivots and airbrushes by the left, along with imagery and riffs from 1984, A Clockwork Orange (655321) and The Prisoner. Watching it with over two years of hindsight, and, I'd like to think, improved video chops, there are a million things technically I'd change. But I think it gets its point across. In light of this weekend's latest pivot, I thought it would be fun to dust it off, as we continue to go Barack to the Future: