Roger L. Simon

President Boring

What is it about Barack Obama that caused his vice president Joe Biden to fall asleep during the president’s speech Tuesday?

Did Biden, getting on in years, just need his afternoon nap? Well, maybe, but the television cameras showed a woman quite near the veep nodding out as well.

No, I think it was a natural response. Biden and the woman were bored stiff. Barack Obama has become the most tedious president in my lifetime. He is like those college professors whose classes you did everything you could to avoid but, if you had to go, sat as far back as possible in order to get a little shut-eye yourself.

But what is it about Obama that makes him so boring? I submit it is something quite simple — he has nothing to say. He is a boring person, the quintessential “hollow man” in the T.S. Eliot sense. He is kind of a socialist, kind of a liberal, kind of a multi-culturalist, kind of an environmentalist, kind of globalist, kind of a budget cutter — but none of them with any real commitment. Basically, he’s a vague and uncommitted person pretending to be otherwise. He is the man that voted “present,” now in the presidency. The fact that he never specified the targets of “hope” and “change” during his election was far from a campaign ploy and more typical than we ever dreamed. There never was a there there. And now, I strongly suspect, there never will be.

We saw that writ large Tuesday in his dull budget speech – so devoid of detail and lacking in anything remotely original or surprising. Despite the titanic deficit crisis, it seemed almost phoned in. (No wonder Biden went to sleep.) But that has been the hallmark of Obama’s administration, disengagement and ennui. Even his signature legislation, the healthcare bill nobody read and nobody wants, reeks of alienation.

We have elected our own Joseph K., except he has nowhere near Kafka’s brilliance, nor the Czech’s dark humor.

Apparently, or so I have heard on the rumor mill, the troops inside the White House are well aware of this disengagement. They talk of how uncomfortable they feel listening to the president discuss sports for the first half-hour of a forty-five minute foreign policy meeting, seemingly unaware (or uncaring) of the urgent matters at hand. Perhaps this accounts for Rahm Emanuel’s quick exit from the administration. Surely, if he remained, bigger things awaited than even mayor of Chicago.

I have written earlier that Obama does not really want to be president. I think I overstated it. He “kind of” wants to be president. He will run for reelection because he doesn’t want to lose, not because he wants to continue what he is doing. (He isn’t doing much — and business as usual liberal deficit spending is not likely to make a comeback anytime soon.)

I listened to a conservative pundit on Hannity tonight opining that the 2012 election will be the most important in our country’s history, that if Obama were reelected we would be plunged into socialism.

I tend to doubt it. With a Republican House and, most likely, a Republican Senate we will be headed into four years of stultifying stagnation. Most likely of all, like Joe Biden, we will all go to sleep.

Or, as Eliot put it at the end of “The Hollow Men”:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

UPDATE: As for the substance of the wretched Obama speech, the WSJ has it just right.