…and his devious weasel ways can be found here.
I’ve previously discussed Obama’s excuse for insulting Paul Ryan to his face:
Obama seems to like to dress people down publicly; humiliating someone and watching him/her squirm (or try to suppress the squirm) is another way to assert power over another person and to feel superior oneself…I don’t actually believe Obama didn’t know about Ryan’s attendance [at the speech where Obama insulted him].
But at the time I wrote that, I was unaware that Ryan was sitting in the front row for the speech in question. That means that Obama has had to do some pretty tricky dancing in order to avoid admitting the fact that of course he knew Ryan was there when he made the speech. Let’s take a look at how he did it:
I’ll go ahead and say it—I think that I was not aware when I gave that speech that Jack [sic] Ryan was going to be sitting right there. And so I did feel, in retrospect, had I known—we literally didn’t know he was going to be there until—or I didn’t know, until I arrived. I might have modified some of it so that we would leave more negotiations open, because I do think that they felt like we were trying to embarrass him. We made a mistake.
As Ann Althouse points out, the first red flag is the word “think” in the phrase “I think that I was not aware.” It’s a very odd construction under the circumstances; people don’t speak like that unless they’re trying to fool the listener, or unless they’re remarkably inattentive to their own thought processes. He thinks he was not aware? Obama was either aware or not aware, and he’s the only one who would know it, outside his inner circle. If it was an aide who invited Ryan to attend the speech (as previously alleged), and Obama was not informed beforehand, then that’s something he should remember and not just “think” he remembers. It should have been a huge shock when he saw Ryan sitting there.
But it goes way beyond that. The reference to Jack Ryan instead of Paul Ryan is telling in the Freudian sense. I’m no Freudian, but that’s quite a slip; Jack Ryan is the guy Obama was running against in Illinois whose seamy divorce records were conveniently unsealed (either independently, or as a result of some string-pulling by Obama allies).
Obama says he was unaware of Ryan’s presence “when I gave that speech.” But even if Obama was unaware of Ryan’s presence before he took the podium, if Ryan was sitting in the front row, Obama became aware “when he gave that speech.” And if he was unaware under such circumstances, then he is extraordinarily and pathologically out of it.
Obama then contradicts himself and says first that “we” didn’t know beforehand (that would probably include his staff, unless he’s using the royal we). Then he catches himself, perhaps because he recalls that in the Woodward book the author says that Ryan was specifically invited to the speech by Obama staffers. So Obama corrects himself and says “I” didn’t know—”until I arrived.”
So, which is it, Barack? Did you not know when you gave the speech, or did you become aware when you arrived?
Obama then goes on to add what I think is his most curious statement of all: he acts as though he had no power whatsoever to change his speech once he saw Ryan sitting there. Perhaps he’s correct. After all, his reliance on prepared remarks and the teleprompter is legendary. Even had he wanted to temper his remarks (which I do not for a moment believe), are we really to understand that he had no ability to ad lib and override his own speechmakers, and was forced to insult a man sitting in front of him because Obama is a preprogrammed robot who cannot adjust to circumstances?
Now, that’s quite an admission.
You may have noted that I have a higher-than-usual degree of anger about this particular incident, even though it’s really a very small one in the scheme of things. Don’t a lot of politicians do this sort of thing? Yes. But Obama does it more blatantly, more arrogantly, and more consistently, with an incredibly inappropriate air of his own self-righteousness—and in large part he gets away with it.