Its Origin and Purpose, Still a Total Mystery

At the end of 2006, journalist Froma Harrop, whom five years later would beclown herself on the Daily Show when the show (surprisingly) called her on writing a piece arguing for civil discourse after comparing Tea Partiers to Al Qaeda, wrote a piece at Real Clear Politics titled, “Obama Scores as Exotic Who Says Nothing:”


What Obama really thinks should be done about health care and the terrorist threat remain secrets that his book does not unlock. His two years in the Senate certainly haven’t revealed any bold policy ideas.

This leave-them-guessing strategy slips out in the book’s prologue. “I serve as a blank screen,” Obama writes, “on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” He notifies readers that “my treatment of the issues is often partial and incomplete.” It takes some doing for a politician to write a 364-page book, his second volume, and skate past all controversy.

Two years later, at the end of a presidential campaign in which CNN would spend at least a year of being so deep in the tank for then-Preisdent Elect Barack Obama that the network gave itself a collective case of the bends, network contributor Jonathan Mann wrote a column with a remarkable ending:

Obama hasn’t taken office as president, only glimpsed the Oval Office as a visitor and won’t take over until January 20.

But already, he’s being compared to the most remarkable leaders the United States has ever had.

The way some Americans talk, they’re getting five presidents in one.

After comparing Obama to first JFK, FDR, Lincoln and Bill Clinton, Mann concluded, “The Americans who are comparing him to those remarkable predecessors are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.”

On the eve of the election in 2008 though, Tom Brokaw of NBC, and Charlie Rose, then with PBS, admitted that they knew very little about President Obama:


CHARLIE ROSE: I don’t know what Barack Obama’s worldview is.

TOM BROKAW: No, I don’t, either.

ROSE: I don’t know how he really sees where China is.

BROKAW: We don’t know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.

ROSE: I don’t really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?

BROKAW: Yeah, it’s an interesting question.

ROSE: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational (sic) speeches.

BROKAW: Two of them! I don’t know what books he’s read.

ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

BROKAW: There’s a lot about him we don’t know.

And the mystery continues! “Even After 4 Years, Obama Remains a Mystery,” David Shribman wrote yesterday at Real Clear Politics:

George W. Bush was not an enigma. He had no hidden parts. His father was not mysterious. George H.W. Bush’s life was dedicated to achievement and service. Even Bill Clinton wasn’t unfathomable. Nothing in his presidency — the brilliant highs, the shocking lows — was a substantial, unpredictable departure from his past.

Barack Obama, though, is the most enigmatic president since Jimmy Carter, the most mysterious since Lyndon Johnson, the most unfathomable since Franklin Roosevelt. Political professionals sometimes say of public figures that what you see is what you get, more or less. But with Mr. Obama, what you see is both more and less than what you get. […]

The gravest warning sign in Mr. Obama’s background wasn’t his spare record in the U.S. Senate (Johnson often ridiculed John F. Kennedy for having accomplished almost nothing in the Capitol), nor his limited experience in electoral office (Lincoln had but one term in the House). Instead, the most troubling aspect of Mr. Obama’s past were the 129 abstentions in his Illinois Senate career. They suggested that Mr. Obama was more interested in getting elected than in doing the work he had been elected to perform.


While much of Obama’s “mystery” can be written off to the reluctance of liberal networks and news agencies to investigate the most radical chic candidate to ever win election to the White House, Orrin Judd suggests that there’s a much more prosaic issue at work: “Having elected such an empty suit, we have a great need to believe that there is more to him than we’ve gotten.  But our need does not create substance.  Mr. Obama is a classic social climber who believes in nothing but his own advancement.”

But his pants were perfect, and he had a D in parentheses after his name on the ticket. What more did you need to know from the MSM about him?


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