President Barack Hubris Obama

September 8th, 2012

By Dan Miller

In well over his head, he is too dangerous to reelect. We probably won’t do that.

From majestic Greek columns made of Styrofoam provided at his nomination acceptance speech in 2008 to praise for his occasional vocalizations, President Obama’s already massive ego is continuously fed and fattened by those surrounding him. He, in turn, strives mightily to live up to his own expectations that have been and continue to be so fed. His own ever increasing expectations have become increasingly difficult to meet.

obama_potUntil becoming the President, he seems rarely if ever to have failed — or perhaps to have been permitted to fail. His various school records are unavailable and there has been no objective indication that he did well academically, as distinguished from in the “Choom Gang” and in similar endeavors. True, he eventually became the “first Black president” of the Harvard Law Review, but how that happened remains a mystery. Not even one law review article seems to have been published under his name while he was at Harvard, or subsequently. Such an absence is rare if not unique for the titular head of the Harvard Law Review — or of any other nationally respected law review. Becoming the principal editor is generally considered the pinnacle of law school achievement and commonly augurs a successful career to follow. Contrary to the thrust of Mrs. Obama’s DNC speech this year, the Obamas were well off financially and welcomed into Chicago’s power structure soon after graduation; no uncommon merit on their part appears to have been a factor in their uncommon success beyond that they seemed to be in grooming for higher status in anticipation that they would repay, with interest, the favors given them so generously.

obama_peace_prizeThis article at the New York Times confirms what I have long thought, that President Obama deems himself to be, and therefore has to be, the smartest man in the room whether he is or isn’t. Here are some excerpts from the NY Times article:

As Election Day approaches, President Obama is sharing a few important things about himself. He has mentioned more than once in recent weeks that he cooks “a really mean chili.” He has impressive musical pitch, he told an Iowa audience. He is “a surprisingly good pool player,” he informed an interviewer — not to mention (though he does) a doodler of unusual skill.

All in all, he joked at a recent New York fund-raiser with several famous basketball players in attendance, “it is very rare that I come to an event where I’m like the fifth or sixth most interesting person.” …

Four years ago, Barack Obama seemed as if he might be a deliberate professor of a leader, maybe with a touch of Hawaiian mellowness. He has also turned out to be a voraciously competitive perfectionist. Aides and friends say so in interviews, but Mr. Obama’s own words of praise and derision say it best: he is a perpetually aspiring overachiever, often grading himself and others with report-card terms like “outstanding” or “remedial course” (as in: Republicans need one). …

Even by the standards of the political world, Mr. Obama’s obsession with virtuosity and proving himself the best are remarkable, those close to him say. (Critics call it arrogance.) More than a tic, friends and aides say, it is a core part of his worldview, formed as an outsider child who grew up to defy others’ views of the limits of his abilities. When he speaks to students, he almost always emphasizes living up to their potential. …

For someone dealing with the world’s weightiest matters, Mr. Obama spends surprising energy perfecting even less consequential pursuits. He has played golf 104 times since becoming president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who monitors his outings, and he asks superior players for tips that have helped lower his scores. He decompresses with card games on Air Force One, but players who do not concentrate risk a reprimand (“You’re not playing, you’re just gambling,” he once told Arun Chaudhary, his former videographer).

[H]e has also had a habit of warning new hires that he would be able to do their jobs better than they could.

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, according to The New Yorker. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

His speech last night accepting the Democrat nomination has been praised by some and panned by others. Our internet went down just before his speech and was not restored until this morning. I watched it then and found it neither inspiring nor informative. Perhaps it was necessary to be there, surrounded by cheering multitudes of supporters. Large mobs at high school pre-game rallies and at political conventions do become excited; will their excitement last?

Once again there was “hope in the face of difficulties and uncertainty,” but whatever magic had been on display in 2008 seems to have diminished and seems likely to diminish further, before the November election. He claimed to have been “tested and proven.” Today, the meh jobs report (“meh” according to the far right-wing lunatic fringe Daily Beast) followed its abysmal downward trajectory, the workforce continues to diminish, the national debt just reached $16 trillion (approximately $5.4 trillion of which was added during the Obama Administration). The White House tried to brag a bit, saying

While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.

Meanwhile, Iran still seems to be on the path toward getting nuclear weapons, the Arab Spring spews increasingly toxic waters and the Muslim Brotherhood is well into the ascendancy.

The story is told that when Benjamin Franklin was preparing to attend a rally held by a noted evangelist, he knew that he would be irresistibly tempted to make a free will contribution. Not wanting to do so, he left all his money at home. When the basket was passed, he contributed his pocket watch. I doubt that Mr. Franklin would have been similarly impressed or tempted by President Obama.

Has the Messiah of 2008 left the room?

It is perhaps unfair to judge Obama’s speech by the high standard he set at the last two Democratic conventions. Yet what he produced in Charlotte was not so much a statement of vision as a rerun of some of his less than exciting State of the Union speeches. Given the opportunity to make the case for his re-election, he did little to explain to voters why things happened as they did during his administration or to give them any real idea of how he could achieve any of the goals he set for himself in 2008 or this year. The result was a standard compendium of Democratic campaign talking points that often fell flat and didn’t answer the big question facing the country. After a week of Democrats speaking of what they now call the “Great Recession” that Obama inherited, the president wasn’t able to make a case that might persuade voters he will do better in his second four years than he did in his first four.

Much of President Obama’s favorite slogan, “hope®” seems to have faded.  This article by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post was number one on today’s listing of top articles there, even though it is quite negative. He interviewed delegates on the convention floor on Thursday and here is what one said:

“It was just so moving, so emotional, to be just one individual in a sea of Democrats,” [in 2008] delegate Bionca Gambill of Terra Haute told me, recalling that night at Invesco Field. “There were a lot of people in tears.” But this year, “you don’t have that magic,” she said. “We need to find some of that energy. I don’t think we can find 100 percent of it.”

Mr. Milbank continued,

At the start of his indoor acceptance speech, Obama tried to recalibrate expectations, telling delegates that at the 2004 convention he “spoke about hope, not blind optimism, not wishful thinking, but hope in the face of difficulty.” He returned to the theme later, cautioning: “I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have…. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

There were no faux-Greek columns to be found this time on the set when President Obama spoke.


Even the faux anticipations created by former President Clinton’s nominating speech seem to have led to disappointment — not in President Clinton, but in President Obama. Here is a less than flattering article from the Daily Beast.  It comments,

Let’s be blunt. Barack Obama gave a dull and pedestrian speech tonight, with nary an interesting thematic device, policy detail, or even one turn of phrase. The crowd sure didn’t see it my way. The delegates were near delirium; to what extent they were merely still feeding off the amassed energy of the previous two nights I can’t say.

And swing voters watching at home? They probably weren’t as bored as I was, but it seems inconceivable that they’d have been enraptured. This was the rhetorical equivalent, forgive the football metaphor, of running out the clock: Obama clearly thinks he’s ahead and just doesn’t need to make mistakes. But when football teams do that, it often turns out to be the biggest mistake of all, and they lose. …

The question is, did he let the air out of the balloon here? Lose the momentum that gathered with such undeniable force over the previous two nights? I suspect he may have. If he comes out of this convention with under a three-point bounce, that will constitute a horrible missed opportunity. This thing was teed up for him to build a five-point lead. If there’s little movement in next week’s polls, then there’s also little doubt whose fault it is. Michelle did her job, and Clinton more than did his.

Here are some of Business Insider’s comments:

It’s only been a few minutes since President Barack Obama accepted the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, but his speech is already being panned as mediocre and largely void of substance.

“A great speech is more than the sum of its parts,” New York Times polling guru Nate Silver tweeted after the speech. “Don’t think Obama met that standard.” (Bold print in original.)

Would the speech have been better if President Obama had tried to sing it? If he had claimed hoarseness and given it to President Clinton or Mrs. Obama to rewrite and read for him? Probably.

President Obama said in his acceptance speech that America faces a big decision in resolving on the best path to take, perhaps the most difficult choice in American history. That may be true. What will happen if President Obama, despite our still fading economy and America’s reduced and still diminishing place in an increasingly dangerous and hostile world, manages to continue in office for four more years? Will the “I Won Again” try to take giant strides along what he views as the path — his path — “forward,” ignoring all alternatives and with or without the Congress? Will he continue to rely on and exacerbate economic, class and race divisions? Will we get more “modern, progressive” leech therapy for the economy, through even more and higher taxes and increasingly difficult and expensive to comply with regulations on those who create jobs taxes, to the detriment of those seeking those jobs? It may have worked for President Obama, although not for the nation; with another four years we would most likely be in for four more years of decline accelerated by his “greater flexibility.”


Four more years!
Hi ho, Hi ho!
It’s down the drain we go.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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