I don’t have the quote in front of me, so I need to paraphrase, but in a behind the scenes book on the James Bond franchise, the author describes a meeting between the Bond producers and a screenwriter in the early stages of prepping the film version of Diamonds are Forever. If I recall correctly, it was Harry Saltzman who said to the writer, “So, what is this movie about?” The writer earnestly replied, “It’s about James Bond saving the entire world from Blofeld’s evil clutches.”
Saltzman pounded the table and shouted indignantly, “Goddamn it, that’s not big enough!”
Which sounds much like this simultaneously hilarious and pathetic quote from a New York Times article on Obama’s legacy in reality, versus his own inchoate, yet boundless ambitions, as spotted by Ricochet’s Peter Robinson:
Toward the end of…[Jackie Calmes’s New York Times article on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner]…she reports the following, which occurred on a conference call shortly after the 2008 election:
‘Mr. Obama spoke of the transformative domestic policies he had promised and now would pursue. Mr. Geithner, say people familiar with the exchange, cautioned that the crisis Mr. Obama had inherited was so severe that it would constrain him.“Your legacy is going to be preventing the second Great Depression,” Mr. Geithner said.Vexed, Mr. Obama replied, “That’s not enough for me.”’
And there you have it: an advisor giving the president-elect wise advice, which was instantly rejected as insufficiently transformative. The rest is history.
And note this exchange in the comments section:
KC Mulville: I’ve rarely seen anyone hold the welfare of so many hostage to his own personal self-image.
That, in one sentence, sums up Obama with brutal precision.
And it also brings us to Jonah Goldberg’s latest column, and a reminder that, to paraphrase John Lennon on God, Obama is a concept by which we measure our sins:
Last week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Obama explained, “We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”
The White House and its proxies insist that Obama wasn’t talking about Americans per se. He just meant we’ve been lazy about attracting foreign investment.
We’ll come back to that in a minute. For now, let’s take him at his word.
Still, you can understand the confusion. In September, the president reflected in an interview that America is “a great, great country that has gotten a little soft, and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.”
Shortly after that, he told rich donors at a fundraiser that “we have lost our ambition, our imagination and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam.”
So, Obama thinks Americans lack ambition and are soft, but don’t you dare suggest that he also thinks they’re lazy.
The point of all this is pretty obvious. Obama has a long-standing habit of seeing failure to support his agenda as a failure of character. The Democratic voters of western Pennsylvania refused to vote for him, he explained, because they were “bitter.” He told black Democrats lacking sufficient enthusiasm for his reelection to “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’.”
And of course Obama’s ego is large and contains multitudes — not to mention, underneath it all, he’s a hack Chicago machine pol who will say anything at any given moment, if it will move his agenda forward and he thinks no one will ever call him on his own self-described bullsh*t:
In 2008, Obama said Bush’s deficit of $9 trillion was “unpatriotic.” Now he questions the patriotism of those who think the Obama deficit of $15 trillion argues against spending even more money we don’t have. And of course, there’s that giant unfunded disaster known as Obamacare, which Nancy Pelosi claimed was a “jobs bill” because it would lead to “an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”
But, yes, by all means, let’s blame our lack of competitiveness on the American people.
Well, it depends upon who you blame. Nick Gillespie of Reason reads early supine Obama acolyte Shepard Fairey the riot act, after seeing Fairey’s ridiculous V for Vendetta/OWS-inspired sequel poster:
If the Occupy movement, like Fairey, sees Obama as a “potential ally” then what does it say about the way that the president has in fact governed? Like Sen. John McCain, Candidate Obama cast a vote in favor of bailing out the big banks and financial institutions while running for president. He then upped the ante and has shown absolutely zero ability to conjure up an economic recovery plan that does not rely on fixes that were rusted-out by the time Richard Nixon took that final flight to San Clemente back in the 1970s.
Obama’s record on civil liberties and foreign interventions is indistinguishable from George W. Bush’s, whose exit calendar from Iraq he is fulfilling. Except that Obama has managed to lower the bar when it comes to killing American citizens and committing American resources without even the fig leaf of congressional approval. Who wants to support the Solyndra-style crony capitalism, or bizarre gun-running operations such as Fast and Furious? What part of record numbers of deportations of poor Mexicans and raids of legal-under-state-law medical marijuana dispensaries in California does Fairey and Occupants not understand?
Pretty much all of it, since in 2008, Fairey was but one of tens of millions of Americans who confused morality with aesthetics when going all-in on building the Oba-myth.
Related: And speaking of both OWS and confusing morality and aesthetics…