Unexamined Premises

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Say what?

His Serene Highness, the Emperor Hussein

As if there were any doubt that the imaginary presidency of Barack Hussein Obama is over, the recent calamitous events leading up to this week’s ghastly speech — the only thing Obama knows how to do, apparently, is make a speech — have certainly dispelled them in all except the minds of the true believers and perhaps Michael Beschloss. Short on specifics (“coalition” of whom?), weak-kneed, lily-livered, dispassionate and uninspiring, Obama’s latest address to the nation should be the last time any American takes what the president of the United States has to say seriously. Certainly, nobody else will.

But hey — in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind that is Obama’s, he’s just doing the job he was hired to do. Put him in front of the TelePrompter, load it up with the latest platitudes, buzz words and poll-tested phrases, and turn him loose. How awful it must be for him to realize that the one-trick pony act that worked so well it got him all the way from Chicago to the White House is now working against him, and has turned him from the messiah into a figure of ridicule.

His mistake — and ours — lay in thinking that he and we had the same notion of what being “president” actually meant. To us, it’s the most important job in the country, a position fit only for a wise man of great experience and sound judgment; we might disagree on the details, but until Obama, every president felt an allegiance to the United States of America and did, by his lights, the best he could for his country. Sure, Woodrow Wilson sought to undermine the constitutional principles of the republic (and, like Bill Clinton, only won the presidency because the Republicans split their vote), but he did so out of misguided and voguish belief in nascent Progressivism — a philosophy he shared with both his GOP opponents, Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft; there were, after all, three Progressives running in that election, evangelists of the same movement that gave us the dreadful 16th, 17th and 18th constitutional amendments.

Obama, however, is something new — the first anti-American president (and, not coincidentally, the first American president raised entirely outside the continental U.S.). Marinated in anti-American propaganda from childhood, and skilfully passed along the quasi-Marxist network of the anti-American Left, he was the perfect stealth candidate in 2008, a man of no particular intellect or accomplishment, whose past was murky and whose background mysterious — an alien simulacrum of an American that presented himself as the anti-Bush, a role he continues to play. As David Rothkopf writes in a brilliant piece in Foreign Policy:

Obama’s presidency is largely a product of a moment in history that likely will be seen someday as an aberration — the decade after 9/11, during which a stunned, angry, and disoriented America was sent spinning into a kind of national PTSD. Call it an age of fear, one in which the country and its leaders were forced to grapple with a sense of vulnerability to which they were unaccustomed. The response of George W. Bush’s administration — entering into the long, costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, remaking U.S. national security policy around the terrorism threat — led to a backlash that ushered Obama into office with a perceived mandate to undo what his predecessor had done and avoid making similar mistakes.

The problem is that in seeking to sidestep the pitfalls that plagued Bush, Obama has inadvertently created his own. Yet unlike Bush, whose flaw-riddled first-term foreign policy was followed by important and not fully appreciated second-term course corrections, Obama seems steadfast in his resistance both to learning from his past errors and to managing his team so that future errors are prevented. It is hard to think of a recent president who has grown so little in office.

With the fall elections looming, the figure that once inspired millions is now an albatross around the Democrats’ neck, shunned by endangered candidates who will now perform the time-honored Democratic magic trick of running as “conservatives” before being returned to office to vote in lockstep with the Harry Reid wing of the criminal organization masquerading as a political party. RINOs, of course, do precisely the same thing, viz John McCain, which is why, until we break up the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party, nothing will ever really change, except for the worse. 

One might point out that Bush performed the same role from 2006-2008, and his party got what was coming to it in a presidential election in which Bush left no possible successor and the Democrats, true to form, nominated somebody nobody had even heard of a few years earlier. Ever since, we have had, in effect, a fantasy presidency, in which the appearances of the office have been more or less kept up, but the substance is almost wholly lacking. Thus, instead of respecting the separation of powers, Obama has marginalized the Congress and outright attacked the Supreme Court in public, all the while merrily packing the lower federal courts with more ideological infiltrators with law degrees — incubating, like the chest-burster in Alien, until the time is right for them to blast forth and continue their war on the country as founded. Meanwhile, he continues to enjoy the perks, including parties, free travel and endless rounds of golf, at taxpayer expense.

To say we’ve never seen anything like him on the national level would be an understatement, which is why nobody seems to know how to stop him. If you think rule-by-executive-order is bad now, wait until after the elections. Even should the Stupid Party somehow overcome its suicidal proclivities and actually take control of the Senate, it still will not be able to keep him in check should he choose to “rule” exclusively by fiat. After all, he didn’t even respect a Democratic Congress when he had it.

However, there is one regional figure from American history whom Obama very much resembles:

His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor Norton

His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor Norton

That would be Joshua Abraham Norton, “Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico,” and beloved nut of 19th-century San Franciscans, who humored a vagrant immigrant (England, by way of South Africa) madman’s whims and honored him at his death with a public funeral:

… to Norton, America’s Republican form of government was one of inefficiency, corruption, self-interest. How could America be an empire if its leaders were elected? He admired the English monarchy; the British Empire. In 1852, he had casually remarked to a friend: “If I were Emperor of the United States, you would see great changes effected, and everything would go harmoniously.”

On September 17, 1859, climbed the stairs of 517 Clay Street to the office of the San Francisco Bulletin newspaper. George Fitch, editor of the Bulletin, was sitting at his desk when a man he described as “neatly dressed and serious looking” handed him a piece of paper. The next morning, Fitch ran a headline: “Have We An Emperor Among Us?” and printed the following proclamation.

“At the pre-emptory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last nine years and ten months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself the Emperor of These United States, and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.”

It was signed: “Norton I, Emperor of the United States.”

Norton went on to abolish the California Supreme Court and outlaw both the Democratic and Republican parties; more practically, he called for bridging San Francisco Bay and abolishing the use of the nickname “Frisco” for San Francisco — two missions eventually accomplished, at least in the Bay Area.

Barack Obama can only hope for such a favorable legacy. Norton never had to worry about the consequences of any of his proclamations; the cops and the citizenry saluted him and ignored them. Such benign neglect, however, is not possible in the American political system. For better or worse, we are stuck with the Emperor Hussein until his reign ends in January 2017. That’s a reality that ought to terrify every thinking American.