Unexamined Premises

Barry, Harry, Barry and Harry

Barack Hussein Obama, in unfamiliar surroundings

Barack Hussein Obama, in camouflage

With the backsliding economy, the collapse of Iraq, the record rise in disability, the slow-motion invasion along our southern borders — actively assisted by the current administration — and the fixation on imaginary threats over real-world problems, we have now arrived at a an inflection point in the development of the American political system. For if war is too important to be left to the generals, can we not now also say, definitively, that politics is too important to be left to the politicians?

Consider the increasingly strange case of Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barry Soetero, a man apparently born and bred for a single purpose: to run for office and yet somehow singularly unsuited to the task. Bereft of any discernible skills, intellectually mediocre, a flat and uninspiring speaker away from his omnipresent teleprompter, incapable of extemporaneous thought, indifferent to the actual discharge of his constitutional duties and possessed of low cunning attached to an overweening sense of self-importance, Obama is the first president in our history for whom the White House was the only logical career path. Neither a public intellectual like Wilson, a war hero like Teddy Roosevelt or Ike, or a self-made man like Reagan, Obama in many ways resembles JFK, who had been spawned along with his brothers explicitly for public office by an Irish parvenu with visions of grandeur and a chip on his shoulder.

Thackeray wrote about just such a family is his early novel, Barry LyndonIn that work, made into a memorable film by Stanley Kubrick, the wheedling, smooth-talking Barry (egged on by his implacable mother) woos and wins the lovely Lady Lyndon, only to beggar her with his profligate spending and undisciplined personal behavior. If you picture Marisa Berenson as Lady Liberty, this scene takes on added resonance:

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Still, one can easily imagine John F. Kennedy doing something productive with his life had his quest for the White House, taken in place of his fallen older brother, not been successful. The president’s untimely death ensured that his younger brothers Bobby and Teddy would spend the rest of their lives seeking the family restoration. Not so Obama, unless you count an academic sinecure “productive.”

The same might also be said for his administration, whose members have been drawn from the same intellectual and social class — credentialed and well upholstered, but not particularly smart or even educated. For example, the man who, more than anybody, steered Obama into office, David Axelrod, was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune; it was he, the second coming of Jake Lingle, who cemented the Democrat-Media Complex that functions in tandem to boost Democrat candidates and suppress bad news about the Progressive agenda. And as for Valerie Jarrett, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and the rest of Team Obama, the less said the better.

Back when Adlai Stevenson ran (twice) against Eisenhower, he and his breed of Democrats were dismissed by their political opponents as “eggheads,” a term now out of favor, but one which described Stevenson to a T:

Stevenson loved language and was a gifted orator. A sharp wit, he could be both high-minded and self-deprecating. In one oft-quoted story, a supporter shouted, “Governor Stevenson, you have the vote of all the thinking people,” to which he replied, “That’s not enough, madam. I need a majority.” New York Herald Tribune columnist Stewart Alsop coined the term “egghead” to describe the urbane, intellectual, and balding Stevenson.

The talent among his speechwriters was breathtaking: Archibald MacLeish, John Kenneth Galbraith, John Hersey, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Even so, he personally reworked every speech, often penciling in hundreds of changes, keeping crowds waiting, even letting them disperse, until he felt prepared. His advisers joked he’d rather write than be president, according to biographer Jean Baker.

His political opponents in 1952 were vicious: Vice presidential nominee Richard Nixon, red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover smeared the Stevenson campaign as a bunch of “pinks and pansies.” In response, Stevenson quipped, “I would make a proposition to my Republican friends . . . that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”

'Be sure to look up my boss, Tom Pendergast...'

‘Be sure to look up my old boss, Tom Pendergast, and tell him Harry sent ya’

In other words, the kind of guy reporters love. (It is telling that, to the press, Eisenhower, the general who engineered the American victory over Germany in World War II, was considered “stupid,” while Stevenson, a former governor of Illinois and party hack, was deemed brilliant.)

No wonder the modern Left tumbled so hard for Barry — his was the second coming of the Stevenson campaign. Eloquence! Oratory! Speechwriting! A nasty tongue in his head! JFK brought many of Stevenson’s eggheads on board, Harvard boys who gave us the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Never mind that behind Truman and Kennedy also lay the tentacles of organized crime, in the form of the Pendergast Gang in Kansas City and old Joe Kennedy’s personal ties to Owney Madden and Frank Costello in New York City. As I like to say, it’s a criminal organization masquerading as a political party.

But Barry II, whose spiritual father Saul Alinsky cut his teeth in the Capone Mob, has taken things to a new level — ruthless amorality and cupidity combined with the kind of utter ineptitude that is the egghead’s hallmark. That’s why the Obama administration would rather blather on about “climate change” and its phantom menace than discuss Iraq or the economy; to the egghead, theory is more real than reality, and talking a good game is far more important than playing a good game.

Which is why, in the end, Barry thinks he’s got game. All his life he’s been told he has. His skills, such as they are, are what’s prized in the gum-flapping community. His providential arrival on the scene as the first African-American with no “Negro dialect” (in Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s famous phrase), set the chattering classes swooning; his Columbia and Harvard pedigree assured them he was One of Us. The good will of the American people put him in the White House, as if a propitiatory offering for the sins of the past. The problem is, in the real world, he has no game. He can’t play at this level. Everything he throws up is a brick:

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In the NBA, he’d be taken out of the game and shown a seat on the bench. In a parliamentary democracy, his government would have collapsed months ago and we’d be heading into a snap election. Even Barry Lyndon fell from his social heights and landed in prison. But this is America. Or at least it used to be.