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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:

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."