March 29th, 2010

Looking back: who is Obama?

Here’s another blast from the trying-to-figure-Obama-out past, this time from Spengler (David P. Goldman), who wrote the following on February 28, 2008:

Barack Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother’s milk, but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career. He shares the resentment of Muslims against the encroachment of American culture, although not their religion. He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and fears while remaining at emotional distance. That is, he is the political equivalent of a sociopath. The difference is that he is practicing not on a primitive tribe but on the population of the United States.

There is nothing mysterious about Obama’s methods. “A demagogue tries to sound as stupid as his audience so that they will think they are as clever as he is,” wrote Karl Krauss. Americans are the world’s biggest suckers, and laugh at this weakness in their popular culture. Listening to Obama speak, Sinclair Lewis’ cynical tent-revivalist Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or, even better, Tyrone Power’s portrayal of a carnival mentalist in the 1947 film noire Nightmare Alley. The latter is available for instant viewing at Netflix, and highly recommended as an antidote to having felt uplifted by an Obama speech.

America has the great misfortune to have encountered Obama at the peak of his powers at its worst moment of vulnerability in a generation. With malice aforethought, he has sought out their sore point…

Be afraid – be very afraid. America is at a low point in its fortunes, and feeling sorry for itself. When Barack utters the word “hope”, they instead hear, “handout”. A cynic might translate the national motto, E pluribus unum, as “something for nothing”. Now that the stock market and the housing market have failed to give Americans something for nothing, they want something for nothing from the government. The trouble is that he who gets something for nothing will earn every penny of it, twice over.

Holds up pretty well, I think.

But enough of the past. Moving right along, we come to the future. How will this play out? Spengler didn’t know in February of 2008, and we still don’t know in March of 2010 (actually, we can never know the future—until it becomes the past, and even then our knowledge remains incomplete).

But we certainly should know more about whether either of the following two possibilities occurs within the next three years (perhaps even sooner):

“Evil will oft evil mars”, J R R Tolkien wrote. It is conceivable that Barack Obama, if elected, will destroy himself before he destroys the country.

Obama is certainly well on his way to destroying himself in terms of public opinion. But he has also shown that he has contempt for public opinion; although he prefers that it be with him, he has no problem acting against it if he has the power to do so. And right now he’s got that power.

18 Responses to “Looking back: who is Obama?”

  1. Dan D Says:

    Obama is polarizing public opinion, but by no means is he destroying himself in terms of public opinion. A President of either party commands the core loyalty of at least 35% of the voting population at all times, even when approval ratings dip far below that. Simply because when push comes to shove and another election looms, the core supporters and many of those who were convinced to support in the initial election will make the digital decision support/not support in the favor of support.

    Further, there are intense and significant portions of the electorate who remain loyally committed to Obama. Metropolitan area dwellers, university types, media and arts people, those who identify strongly with some racial and ethnic groups, feminists, and on and on… Many key players in the country’s power structures are far from abandoning Obama, and may never do so.

    While he is leading his opponents to have increased intensity in their negative reactions to his policies and his persona, that is hardly the same as losing public opinion. Although that may happen, it is not close to happening yet.

    The general American public is slow to get involved in politics, and slow to turn on a successful politician. The arrogance, constant straw-man arguments, disrespect for friends and foes alike has not sunk into the public consciousness the way it has to better informed and skeptical observers.

    Maybe someday all the accumulated evidence will break through, but it will likely need a catalyzing event. I won’t be surprised if that event transpires and the tide turns, but likewise won’t be surprised if it doesn’t anytime soon.

  2. Bob from Virginia Says:

    The question remains is whether he is CONSCIOUSLY trying to do as much damage to the US as possible or is he obeying an ideology that hates the US? Sorta of a pointless question because the outcome is going to be the same.

    But hey, he still has an almost 46% approval rating so his actions can’t be that unpopular. His contempt for the opinion for the vulgar is largely justified by his consistent popularity.

    Sooner or later G-d is going to conclude that protecting the US from its own stupidity is beyond his powers and go look out for the rest of the universe.

  3. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Dan D wrote”Maybe someday all the accumulated evidence will break through, but it will likely need a catalyzing event. ”

    Like an Iran nuke going off in NYC? Frankly I doubt that would have much effect on O’s supporters, they would just blame Bush.

  4. expat Says:

    Jim Geraghty over at NRO has done a great job of documenting that who ever Obama is it has nothing to do with what he claimed. A comprehensive list of Obama’s expiration dates:

    http://campaignspot.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MzI4MjQ3Mzk4MWJkNDkwNWZlYzcwNDA3NmQyNmIxYmI=

  5. J.L. Says:


    Listening to Obama speak, Sinclair Lewis’ cynical tent-revivalist Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or, even better, Tyrone Power’s portrayal of a carnival mentalist in the 1947 film noire Nightmare Alley.

    I always thought that part of Obama’s appeal to a large segment of the college age population is that his speeches and demeanor are a knock-off of the type of pie-in-the-sky faux-idealistic rhetoric the youth think they want to hear from their leaders.

    Its kind of like going to a rock concert, holding up your lighter, and imagining youre at Woodstock. Except this is a different fantasy: the “young generation called to action by the inspirational leader” shtick. Obama put on the show, and the young lapped it up, imagining their new erzatz-Camlot before they headed back to their dorms to study for that upcoming Psychology exam.

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    DanD,

    What is a ‘digital decision’? And, how is it different from an ‘analog decision’? ;-)

    “The question remains is whether he is CONSCIOUSLY trying to do as much damage to the US as possible or is he obeying an ideology that hates the US? Sorta of a pointless question because the outcome is going to be the same.” Bob from VA

    Consciously and it’s a combination of both. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Not only do his own past words, so indicate but he’s surrounded by knowledgeable advisers, who regardless of political inclination, know the ‘fire’ he’s playing with…and must have so informed him, or at least tried to.

    Geithner comes to mind, who has ofttimes in public looked at Obama with an expression of puzzled disbelief…like he can’t quite bring himself to accept the obvious, that Obama’s actions are actively hostile toward the economic health of the US. Geithner looks like a man thinking, “he must have some genius plan which is beyond the ken of any less exalted because he can’t be intending what is otherwise inevitable”…

    Because Obama’s actions are intentional, there must be an overall goal he is working toward, an ‘endgame’.

    Nothing else makes sense and Obama is far too calculating for it to be a simple irrational attachment to ideology.

  7. Boots Says:

    Obama is a product of Chicago’s political system. He was raised on the mother’s milk of numerous hatreds, and then went to Chicago to “refine” his thinking.

    There are large swaths of Chicago that are a testament to the ‘chicago school of government’. Most of the south & west sides of the city. If you’ve never been to Chicago, those parts of the city look surprisingly like Detroit. It’s just that in Chicago, the middle class has been able to hang on by its fingernails a little longer.

    Obama & his crowd seem to want the entire USA to look like Detroit. Certainly the policies put forth by this administration will have that effect.

  8. Matthew M Says:

    Caroline Glick’s latest piece exposes some of Obama’s M.O. in manipulating an ally: http://www.carolineglick.com/e/2010/03/obamas-jewish-defenders.php

  9. Artfldgr Says:

    But enough of the past. Moving right along, we come to the future. How will this play out?

    At some point they will cut social services….

    the rest will then be history…

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Caroline Glick, my favorite Israeli columnist! What a treasure. She makes clear much of what is going on.

    Should the Obama administration and the Israeli left (just as powerful in Israel as here) succeed and cause the fall of Netanyahu’s government, two things are likely to happen; Livni and Kadima will take over, and a far left government will then be in power, one disposed to agree to suicidal ‘concessions’ to the ‘peace process’.

    Two, Obama will have a government in place that will not attack Iran. Something he is clearly unwilling to do.

    Should Netanyahu’s government not fall and the Israeli’s attack Iran, Obama will have the perfect excuse he needs to declare Netanyahu and his government ‘an obstacle to peace’ thus justifying his canceling of all aid to Israel while voting in the UN for sanctions to bring the Israeli’s to their senses.

  11. Francesca Says:

    In our country where it is nearly impossible to really hide information, WHY hasn’t someone, somewhere, found out some of what Obama is hiding? I didn’t used to think about this issue very much as it seemed crazy, but now I wonder WHO this man is.

  12. Dan D Says:

    Geoffrey Britain, a digital decision is a simple yes/no, our guy/your guy decision. You must make a decision, but cannot waffle or try to arrive at a better choice, you must choose only between the two alternatives presented. It presents clarity of choice, often between bad and worse.

    In this case, a large portion of the electorate will always choose their closest cultural match. That’s the only way the preposterous John Kerry could come within a few score thousand Ohio votes of becoming President, the voters could not select a better fit, only the one on offer.

    In business, many great managers turn analog problems into digital decisions, simply because making any decision may be more effective than making none while pondering the multitude of options.

  13. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Geoffrey Britain I respectfully disagree with your prediction of what Tzipi Livni would do if she takes over. Outside the extreme left no one takes “peace with the Palestinians” seriously. As for Iran, 25% of Israelis say they will leave the country if Iran does get the bomb, effectively ending the Jewish state without a shot being fired. This is not something Israel has any options about. Iran gets the bomb and Israel is finished.

    Also I hear there is support for an attack on Iran on both sides of the aisle in DC, so Obama is not going to get any support for boycotting Israel apart from his own lefty sex toys.

    BTW if you has only one or two shots in your pistol and if there are two targets, one small that you hate but is not a threat and the other a giant whose mere existence is a threat to your life who are you going to shoot? Those A-bombs are not being built for use on Israel, they’re being built for use on NYC and
    DC.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Bob of VA,

    You may be right about Livni but then the US can bring quite a bit of pressure to bear upon Israel. Plus, I find the left generally doesn’t look at the long term consequences of their actions for guidance when evaluating ideological imperatives. I doubt if Israel’s left is an an exception to that rule.

    I would respectfully disagree with your assumption that Iran getting the bomb would necessarily result in an exodus of 25% from Israel. I do think an Iranian bomb means the beginning of the end for Israel.

    As for the support for Israel, it’s more tenuous than we’d like. 327 members in the House recently voted in support of Israel, which correspondingly means that 108 are NOT in support of Israel.

    Plus, in a recent poll, only “57% of respondents believe the United States should take Israel’s side in the conflict”…which means an 8% drop in support means that a majority of Americans would not support American support of Israel in a conflict.

    “Those A-bombs are not being built for use on Israel, they’re being built for use on NYC and
    DC.”

    Can’t fully agree Bob, Israel is definitely in the cross-hairs. Though I do agree that eventually those bombs will find their way to Tel Aviv, NYC and DC but not directly, they’ll be used in a nuclear terrorist attack but not till the Iranian’s have figured a way to create ‘plausible deniability’.

  15. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Geoffrey Britain wrote “Though I do agree that eventually those bombs will find their way to Tel Aviv, NYC and DC but not directly, they’ll be used in a nuclear terrorist attack but not till the Iranian’s have figured a way to create ‘plausible deniability’.”

    For the most part I agree, however there is a fault in all our thinking. We are trying to use logic to predict the actions of lunatics.

    Logically Iran should be less afraid of the US and Israel simply because the Mullahs have been murdering Americans for years without any retaliation, whereas the Israelis have consistently attacked their proxies and even a convoy in Sudan. But like I said who knows.

    One comment I remember reading from a Mullah supporter was that he regretted the hostage crisis because it caused Carter not to be re-elected. He added that they will not make that mistake again, obviously referring to getting Obama re-elected. So Obama has achieved one of his goals, he is popular among the rulers of Iran.
    Also
    The 25% figure comes from an Israeli poll. We really do not know why those 108 congressmen did not vote for Israel, they may have been absent. Nor do we know precisely how the public would respond to another war involving Israel, but I would be surprised if support were not overwhelming.

  16. Bob From Virginia Says:

    less afraid of the US and Israel
    should read
    less afraid of the US than Israel

  17. Francesca Says:

    There is something not quite right about Obama. Maybe what we need are his medical records.

  18. Amy Says:

    WSJ today: Obama steps up confrontation: White House Seeks to Rally Supporters With Aggressive Tone Against Opponents.

    Watch it play out locally. Where I live, there’s the first newspaper story about the first group meeting to “thank” Obama and also airing their grievances against opponents. I blogged it.

    I also read today that my Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who was incredibly reluctant to hold a town hall last summer, will now hold eight town halls. What’s the point, after the bill has already passed? Just to “sell” us on how great it is? Maybe to incite confrontation like the President is doing. I suspect we are being polarized and destabilized on purpose. At some point something will happen and it will be an excuse for something extreme to happen back.

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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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