[Obama's] whole act was supposed to win over the world and he would be looked up to as the reluctant leader- the healer, the reasonable one, the great organizer. These admissions of US wrongdoing, selfishness, and insensitivity were meant to impress the world and win him goodwill, and respect- not the opposite. talking down the US was designed to increase his personal prestige and influence. The fact that he diminished us in the process was an after thought, not the main goal. we are just another expendable entity to inflate his galactic sized ego.
I think this explanation is a lot more consistent with his narcissism and naïveté, than to believe he wanted to preside over the demise of US influence and power as an actual goal…
First of all, why do we care which it is? I spend a lot of time discussing what I think might be on Obama’s mind—what his motives and goals might be—and none of it changes what Obama actually does as he moves through his lengthy (and seemingly interminable) presidency. Well, I still think it’s good to understand what one is fighting in order to even try to defeat it. In order to add my own contribution, however small, to that endeavor, I write these posts.
I also think it’s usually a bad idea to underestimate one’s opponent. Overestimating isn’t a great idea either—it can lead to stagnation and despair. But thinking Obama is merely a narcissist doesn’t do any good, in my estimation. He is indeed a narcissist, as has been abundantly clear from the time he began to campaign for the presidency (and probably even before, although most of us including me weren’t paying attention back then), and it’s an overarching element of his personality. But he is not just a narcissist: I submit that he is a leftist ideologue as well as a narcissist.
The two are hardly mutually exclusive; they can co-exist quite nicely most of the time. Obama wants to elevate himself, and he wants to undermine the traditional role of the US in the world and replace it with a new role for this country as a leftist nation among many other leftist nations. As such—and with Obama gaining worldwide prestige as leader and transformational trailblazer—the US would become far more cooperative with the larger international community.
Obama sees his role on the world stage, not just as the head of the US and with power derived from its power, but with his own larger status as a major international figure, above it all. That was his goal even before he was elected, as his behavior and speeches made clear.
What other presidential candidate would even think to deliver a speech like Obama’s in Munich in July of 2008? Let’s revisit it in a Spiegel piece whose title quite aptly combines the two ideas, leftist internationalism and narcissism “Obama’s Berlin Speech: People of the World, Look At Me” (in the speech Obama did everything but call his audience “comrades”):
Obama began his speech with sentences about what he claimed not to be — at least for this one Thursday in Berlin: He was neither appearing here as a candidate nor a typical American. Instead, he claimed to be a “proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.”…
…In the final minutes of his address, Obama called out to the audience: “We must come together to save this planet.”
“This is the moment to give our children back their future. … This is the moment to stand as one.”
“This is our time.”
“Let us remember this history, and answer our destiny.”
What American presidential candidate—or even American president, for that matter—has ever gone abroad and given a speech to 200,000 people and referred to himself as a “citizen of the world”? If you can find one, please let me know.
But the most telling remarks of all may have been Obama’s response to a question about American exceptionalism early in his first term:
…[E]arlier this year, while attending the European summit of the Group of 20 major economic countries, the president was asked if he believed in American exceptionalism. He replied, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Not exactly the way Mr. Reagan would have answered…
President Obama’s reference to British or Greek exceptionalism suggests a belief that the United States doesn’t stand alone with a particular greatness but that every nation is great in its own way and America is simply one of many nations with something cool to offer.
This kind of multicultural, politically correct, “we’re all unique in unique ways, every kid must win at dodgeball” thinking is the basis for his economic and foreign policies, from his schemes to nationalize the auto, banking, and health care industries to his lollygagging on behalf of those fighting for greater freedom in Iran.
It is the rationale for his Vesuvian explosion of big government and the much higher taxes required to finance it. It also explains Mr. Obama’s irrepressible urge to apologize for past perceived American injustices and ill-conceived foreign “meddling.” In Mr. Obama’s kaleidoscopic left-wing view, no nation is better than any other, no country can tell another country not to have nuclear weapons, and we’re all socialists now.
In other words, American exceptionalism was so last century.
Obama never thought that jettisoning American exceptionalism would mean that his own image and prestige would suffer. Au contraire; it would be enhanced on the world stage as a result. He believed (and almost certainly still believes) that the world will applaud the reduction of traditional American power, and its transformation into a sort of international peacekeeping unit in cooperation with the UN and other bodies such as the World Court. That means the world will applaud him.
Does Obama think he looks bad on the world stage right now? I don’t have the answer, but my guess is “no, not really.” That may seem odd—the opprobrium right now is so widespread and so strong—but that’s another strange thing about narcissism. It can allow a person to deflect or deny criticism—to ignore it or think it’s temporary and meaningless, to believe that one can pull any situation out of the fire by the sheer force of one’s brilliance.