Ed Driscoll

The Primal Scream President

“What Obama said in his 30-minute primal scream at the GOP,” according to the Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann:

It was President Obama’s Howard Beale moment: He was mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore.

The president had just been informed late Friday afternoon that Republican House Speaker John Boehner was breaking off talks over a deal to enact major deficit reduction and raise the federal debt ceiling. And there is only a week and a half to go until Aug. 2, at which points the US risks a potentially catastrophic default without new borrowing authority. The White House hastily called reporters to the briefing room, and Mr. Obama let ‘er rip.

“I’ve been left at the altar now a couple of times,” the steely-eyed president said. “And I think that, you know, one of the questions that the Republican Party’s going to have to ask itself is, can they say ‘yes’ to anything?”

As James Taranto noted yesterday in his Best of the Web column in the Wall Street Journal — written before the president’s primal scream — at least one worshiper still remained at the altar of the Church of Obama, still writing “President Spock” boilerplate left over from early 2009:

We thought the Boston Globe was a newspaper, but apparently it is a science-fiction fanzine. Get a load of this column by Joshua Green:

Barack Obama took office vowing to usher in a post-partisan era that would drain the toxic anger of the Bush years and focus the country on practical, long-overdue reforms. Like Bush, he was no doubt sincere in wanting to unite the country. Unlike Bush, he has governed in a manner largely consistent with that ideal. A lot of good it’s done him: Washington is more poisonous than ever. And as Congress courts disaster by threatening to default on the national debt, Obama must marvel at his plight. Practically a caricature of Spock-like rationality and sober caution, he’s presiding over a capital that has become completely unhinged.

Come to think of it, there are major similarities between Obama and Spock. Both have oversize ears. Both were fathered by aliens, although Obama’s parents hailed from the same planet. Both are ill suited for command, although Spock was not ambitious enough to seek it.

And of course everyone remembers the episode in which Spock said: “Imagine Captain Kirk drivin’ the Enterprise into a wormhole”–Vulcans always drop their g’s when they’re trying to sound folksy–“and it’s a deep wormhole. It’s a big wormhole. And somehow he walked away from the accident, and we put on our boots and we transported down into the wormhole–me and Bones and Scotty and Hikaru and Nyota. We’ve been pushin’, pushin’, tryin’ to get that starship out of the wormhole. And meanwhile, Kirk is standin’ there, sippin’ on a Slurpee.”

OK, we exaggerated. He didn’t actually say “Nyota.” Lieutenant Uhura didn’t have a first name until the 2009 “Star Trek” movie.

Green’s entire account of Obama’s presidency is as removed from reality as “Star Trek.” By what conceivable standard can one claim that the president has “governed in a manner largely consistent” with the “ideal” of “a postpartisan era”–much less that he has been “unlike Bush” in doing so?

That is some serious science-fiction; back here on Planet Earth, John Podhoretz believes “The President Is Actually Trying to Talk the Markets Into a Panic:”

Watching the insta-reaction on Twitter is very instructive. Liberals say this is good for Obama because it shows GOP recalcitrance. Conservatives say that he has remained so committed to enormous tax increases that he tanked the very possibility of a deal. Time will tell, but it strikes me that the heated rhetoric he is using—”I didn’t get my phone call returned,” “I’ve been left at the altar,” “there’s nothing Republicans will say yes to”—does not suggest he, Obama, feels he has been handed a gift by Boehner and the GOP. He claims to have put $1.5 trillion in cuts on the table, plus $600 billion in entitlement reductions, in exchange for tax increases of the same size. He says Republicans said they would accept a dollar in higher taxes (or “revenue”) for every four dollars in cuts, which isn’t exactly saying “no’” to everything. For their part, Republicans in the House passed their cut, cap and balance bill on Wednesday, and it included an increase in the debt ceiling, so even by his own account his criticisms of the GOP are not accurate.

Nobody can predict what will happen in 2012, and any sitting president is a formidable opponent given the trappings of his office, and a party base of at least a third of the American voting public.  But Sarah Palin may well be onto something when she declared last night that Obama “has been deemed a lame duck president. And he is angry now because he is being treated as such.”

There’s cognitive dissonance you could drive a Chevy Volt through between how Obama was sold to the American public in 2008, and how he’s behaved in office. For over a year leading up to November of 2008, Obama’s self-described “non-official campaign” surrogates in the MSM painted their man as a cool, unemotional pragmatic problem-solver with a first-rate temperament — Spock as the ultimate presidential candidate, in other words. (When they weren’t declaring him God.)

How does President Spock win re-election after having a primal scream Howard Beale meltdown?