April 12th, 2008

Obama the youth candidate: is he faking it, or is he really that naive?

I’m beginning to see that one of the sources of Obama’s appeal, especially to the young, is that he speaks their language. Although the man is forty-six, he comes across as much younger, with a certain “like, you know” improvisational attitude towards the Presidency, especially when speaking off the cuff.

Some no doubt find it refreshing. I do not. It’s reached its peak (so far) in a recent speech in San Francisco when Obama, asked what qualifications he might be looking for in a potential running mate, had this to say (emphasis mine on Obama’s youth-bonding language):

I would like somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I’m not as expert on. I think a lot of people assume that might be some sort of military thing to make me look more Commander-in-Chief-like. Ironically, this is an area—foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.

It’s ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’–I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then–you go.”

“You do that in eighty countries—you don’t know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa–knowing the leaders is not important–what I know is the people. . . .”

“I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college–I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . . .”

If there’s a better example of the arrogance of youth, I can’t think of it offhand. The glorification of “self-confidence” as an improvement on knowledge and experience. The description of the trips to foreign countries as meaningless, including those tedious briefings (sort of like a visit to a boring relative—can’t we go out and play now?) The idea that hazy memories of a few years spent in a country—in this case, Indonesia—about forty years ago as a child of six to ten years old would have any relevance to understanding what’s going on in terms of power or politics or economics in that country or any other part of the world today.

Likewise the college trip to Pakistan. Give me a break.

If Obama really were in his teens or early twenties, these sorts of statements might be understandable. And his “foreign policy” experience of living for a while in these countries would at least have the advantage of being relatively recent.

But Obama is now forty-six years old, and will be forty-seven at the time of the election. Not such a child after all. And although youthful exuberance and innocence can be charming even in an adult, youthful arrogance and ignorance never is.

Is Obama really this unaware, or is he faking it to appeal to the youthful demographic? I haven’t a clue, but I fear it’s the former—although, as George Burns once said:

“The secret of acting is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

And so it’s also possible Obama is a pretty good actor.

14 Responses to “Obama the youth candidate: is he faking it, or is he really that naive?”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    All fake liberals must be good actors, Neo. It takes a lot of acting to be smiling like it’s New Years Day while ordering mass executions of political dissidents and those people in the way, after all.

  2. nyomythus Says:

    His contention that unity based on solidarity of community is a virtue is his Achilles’ heel because it is not a virtue. It would be difficult for any neo-liberal, but his contention should be for solidarity based on a classical enlightened principle, this is particularly evident in his decision making skills, which are populist to the point of moral capitulation. Robots may one day speak well and look attractive – but it’s what’s on the inside that counts, not the smoke screening glitz.

    He is faking his way around this issue and the media is not only ignoring it they are glorifying it. It is a lack of moral courage for Obama and the media — as you’ve written before. He’s doing what politicians do. Yet, Obama has one interesting intellectual quality, and that is his capacity to grow, in terms of lifelong learning, as opposed to Hillary who is cast as she is and will never be anything different than a sopping, self-pitying, populist.

    Obama may mature to become something more, he may become something more of a better decision maker, but I would need more evidence of this to vote for him, maybe sometime later in his life, not now.

  3. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Great write up neo. This quote from Charles Krauthammer sounds apt:

    “Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.”

  4. gcotharn Says:

    Interesting point about the youthful language/arrogance/ignorance. If we are able to see more of Obama offscript, we will see more of this.

    Nyomythus is on the right track in speaking about principle. Obama defines “experience” in “foreign policy” as understanding “the people” of other cultures. As a citizen and a voter, I trust my President will get briefings and advice about different cultures as needed. What I really want is for my President to have solidly founded principles and values to inform his decision-making.

    “Experience” in foreign policy” has some value, yet Obama is using it (unintentionally?) in a way which obscures that when most voters speak of “experience”, they are speaking of the experience to have embraced well-founded and wise principles and values.

  5. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    This latest Obama gaff, (or “I meant what I said, it just didnt come off very well”), has Obama painting us typical NASCAR white guys as gun and jesus clinging bigots. That sounds as if that could have been written by Michelle Obama. Or maybe a particular religious advisor.

    That might not play well in Peoria.

  6. Perfected democrat Says:

    “I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college…”, says something very clear about his “youthful” interests and personal focus in life, especially when you factor in twenty years in that “church”… Between Jimmuh Carter proposing to meet with Hamas, B.O., and Pelosi’s stance on trade with Columbia, in addition to that trip to Syria (check out the important article today at the Alas Shrugs blog), it’s looking more and more like the dimocrats are morphing into an active enemy… Imagine how dangerous they will become with Obama in the White House…

  7. Vince P Says:

    Hey didn’t everyone want to hit that hot spot Pakistan in the 1980s?

    BTW: Did you know that Rev Wright is himself a former Muslim?

  8. Trimegistus Says:

    The liberals don’t support Obama out of ignorance. He isn’t fooling them. They hope he’s fooling the rest of the voters, but they know exactly what he is. He hates America, just as they do.

    They don’t support him in spite of his patronizing contempt for “typical voters” — they support him because they share that contempt. Like him, they want to destroy this country, because they’ve convinced themselves that it is an evil place built by evil people, that all our wealth and achievement is somehow “stolen,” and that we deserve to be plundered and ravaged as punishment for our sins.

  9. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    I think Trimegistus is right for the most part. I think the other numbers that have signed on to Obama do so for the specially crafted “post racial” “transcending politics” schtic he and his media have been fostering since Iowa. These are the guys who signed on because it was fashionable to do so.

    The veneer is cracking though, and it may leave Obama with mainly the base support that Trimegistus mentioned above. Then we will be reminded what it is that “progressives” cling to.

  10. Gray Says:

    “It’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Obama said.

    That made me go from “No way am I voting for that guy…” to “I hate that sonofabitch!”

    I gotta send McCainiac some money….

  11. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Yeah, at least the “Maverick” hadnt said any of that about us crackers so far.

    Maybe after we elect him..

    But you know, this Obama thinks the same way the Southern Poverty law center guys do. We’re all just a stick of dynomite away from bombing an abortion clinic, then settling down for a “cool-one” down at the race track.

    Pull my finger brother.

  12. expat Says:

    There is an additional problem. Michelle has had affirmative action preferences to 2 Ivy League schools. After her husband got his US Senate jobs thanks to a local kingmaker, her salary jumped to 300k+. She lives in a million dollar+ house. If all these little perks didn’t get rid of her bitterness, what will it take to make the millions of gun-totin, church-goin xenophobes into satisfied citizens who reliably vote democrat? I don’t think a chicken in every pot is gonna do it–especially when they have the options of squirrel, coon, and roadkill. Maybe he’ll put a Harvard in every county seat.

  13. Alex Bensky Says:

    Well, for that matter McCain lived in a foreign country for five years, and he was an adult when he did so. Doesn’t that balance Obama’s experience?

    Obama’s recent remark is a gaffe, i.e. he said what he thought, not what he wanted to say. It’s a common attitude among liberals and one reason, among many, why I’m no longer one.

  14. FredHjr Says:

    Let’s just let the dog and pony show play itself out. The many imperfections and pretensions will shake out along the way, I’m sure of it. The problem is that the demographics of the country do not favor the Republicans and McCain. A MAJOR reason why the country has slid to the Left is because the WWII generation is dying in big buckets, being replaced by an under-40 crowd that is strongly liberal-Left and was well indoctrinated rather than educated. Most of those Depression-WWII era citizens were Democrats at one time and after four years of Jimmy “Dhimmi” Carter they had enough, voted Republican thereafter. In fact (not including yours truly, initially)many of the younger Boomers defected over to the Republican Party at the same time (I’m a younger Boomer who stayed Left until about 1986-87).

    The long Gramscian march through the institutions has worked. The Older Boomers who were/are still Leftists have pretty much controlled education, media, and law, and have hand-picked their GenXer successors to take their places in those jobs where the Left’s influence can be extended. There no longer is academic freedom, thanks to these people. Our under-40 crowd is the product of Outcome Based Education, “self-esteem,” and the dumbed-down political correctness regime that has created a milieu within which Obama can succeed.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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