Jump to content

Obama's crime? Acting too presidential


Recommended Posts

Obama's crime? Acting too presidential


August 4, 2008

America, meet Barack The Arrogant.

Did you hear, this guy's already talking about redecorating the Lincoln Bedroom? Or that a few weeks back, he stood behind a podium bearing a faux presidential seal? The young upstart from Illinois has even got his minions planning a White House transition!

We have reporters, columnists and TV talking heads to thank for exposing these outrageous displays. So apparently the verdict is in: Sen. Barack Obama, too confident to govern.

It all would be quite funny if many people didn't seem to be inhaling this multimedia stink bomb as if it were fragrant truth.

I've spent a few days on the campaign trail with Obama and know people who've traveled with him for months. I wouldn't argue that portrayals of the candidate as occasionally aloof, or a little professorial, are imagined.

But it's a long ways from, in the words of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, acting like "the presumptuous nominee" whose "biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris."

Milbank, who is often wickedly revealing, last week seemed mostly wicked as he turned benign campaign tableau -- an Obama motorcade, a talk with the Treasury secretary, a "pep rally" with congressional Democrats -- into evidence that Obama thinks he's already the winner.

Milbank at least leavened his thesis with humor, unlike others piling on the campaign to turn Barack into Slick Barry.

Fox News host Sean Hannity told viewers last week how "presumptuous" Obama had become. Proof: The candidate told congressional Democrats that the world had been waiting for his hopeful message and that to some he had become a symbol of a "return to our best traditions."

That may not be humble pie, but doesn't even come close to breaking the narcissism barrier. Don't our politicians routinely boast about how essential they are to the republic?

Then came the stunning revelation that Obama had begun planning for a transition to the White House.

Fox News hostess E.D. Hill -- who dubbed Obama's playful knuckle bump with his wife a "terrorist fist jab" -- reminded viewers recently that the Democrat was "not commander in chief just yet, which is why some find his decision to start planning his transition into the White House a bit presumptuous."

Hill wondered whether Obama was "jumping the gun or just covering all the bases?"

Never mind that McCain advisors have acknowledged that they too were planning for a White House transition or the fact that history has rewarded those who looked ahead. Early transition planner Ronald Reagan hit the ground running in 1980. Bill Clinton initially struggled after dawdling on White House preparations in 1992.

Yeah, but what about that talk of remodeling the Lincoln Bedroom? Surely that proves Obama thinks he's destined for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

That whopper grew out of an entirely benign moment last month in Fargo, N.D. A woman asked if Obama would consider remodeling the room with African kente cloth.

"No," Obama said with a laugh. He mused that when he had toured the White House in 2005, he thought a copy of the Gettysburg Address would look more appropriate in the historic chamber than the flat-screen TV on the wall.

What about that seal, complete with American eagle, that the Obama faithful trotted out a few weeks back? No question it was a cheesy would-be stature-builder -- but it was far short of counting electoral votes before they're cast.

The candidate's crowning demonstrations of hubris, according to those building a case, came during his extended trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe. Recall the pundits demanding the freshman Illinois senator prove he could be presidential in the foreign arena?

So he appeared at ease with world leaders, talked animatedly with beaming American troops and drew huge civilian crowds. Then the pundits -- who had been taking a round of bashing for supposedly going easy on Obama -- told Obama he needed to beware of appearing too presidential.

Opponents would like to put the Democrat in another can't-win box over his "failure" to visit wounded troops at a military hospital in Germany. Obama canceled a visit to the Landstuhl hospital and was accused of being self-centered.

What if he had appeared at the hospital? David Kiley reported in BusinessWeek magazine how a Republican operative described plans to attack Obama for -- that's right -- using wounded troops as campaign props, if he had gone through with the visit.

These red herrings, a veritable school of 'em, are amusing for those who put them in perspective. But how many take the time to do that?

In 1992, George H.W. Bush reportedly was surprised to find a price scanner in a grocery store, which "proved" he was out of touch with the common man. In 2004, John F. Kerry windsurfed and knew how to speak French. He was pegged as an elitist snob.

McCain launched a television ad last week lumping Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton: just a trio of celebrities handed fame they haven't really earned.

"There's an interesting line building on Obama that somehow success and intelligence are a handicap," said Mark Sawyer, a UCLA political scientist. "If he wasn't extraordinary, he wouldn't be there. But then he is extraordinary and it becomes, 'He is just too good, too well spoken, too accomplished.' "

So here are a few lessons for would-be commanders in chief:

Inspire attention, but not too much. Act presidential, but not like you already have the job. Be confident, but in an obsequious kind of way.

It's really not that complicated.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

His crime: Socialist who wants to bring the U.S. to it's knees. Acting like a self serving, egotistical robin hood makes him a true democratic politician.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More like pandering to the needs of the Europeans, whose vital interests do no necessarily coincide with ours. Maybe he should have devoted more time to talking to small business owners, rather than taking a premature victory lap around Europe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just because he is narcissistic is not a crime.

Why? Why doesn't Obama have a 10 point lead over McCain?

The Cosmopolitan

By George F. Will

Sunday, August 3, 2008; Page B07

As the presidential candidates enter the three-month sprint to November, Barack Obama must be wondering: If that did not do it, what will? The antecedent of the pronoun "that" is his Berlin speech. The antecedent of the pronoun "it" is assuage anxieties about his understanding of the need to supplement soft power (diplomacy) with hard power (military force).

He spoke in Berlin at the bullet-scarred base -- it was in the crossfire 63 years ago as Russian troops neared Hitler's bunker about a mile away -- of an 1873 monument to German militarism. To be precise, the monument celebrates the Franco-Prussian War and lesser triumphs of the militarism that was to help ruin the next century.

Anyway, at that monument Obama exhorted Germans -- does the candidate of "change" appreciate how much beneficent change made this exhortation necessary? -- to be more willing to wage war, in Afghanistan. He was right to do so.

But polls taken since his trip abroad do not indicate that Obama succeeded in altering the oddest aspect of this presidential campaign: Measured against his party's surging strength in every region and at every level, he is dramatically underperforming. Surely this fact is related to anxieties about his thin résumé regarding national security matters, the thinnest of any major party nominee since Wendell Willkie in 1940. But the fact also might be related to fatigue from too much of Obama's eloquence, which is beginning to sound formulaic and perfunctory.

Even an eloquent politician can become, as Benjamin Disraeli described William Gladstone, "a sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity." John Kennedy said in Berlin, "Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free." That half-baked and badly written thought was either trivial because it was tautological (when one man is enslaved, not every man is free) or it was absurd (when one man is not free, no man is free). That absurdity is dangerous because it makes a grandiose mission seem imperative, as in President George W. Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

Does Obama have the sort of adviser a candidate most needs -- someone sufficiently unenthralled to tell him when he has worked one pedal on the organ too much? If so, Obama should be told: Enough, already, with the we-are-who-we-have-been-waiting-for rhetorical cotton candy that elevates narcissism to a political philosophy.

And no more locutions such as "citizen of the world" and "global citizenship." If they meant anything in Berlin, they meant that Obama wanted Berliners to know that he is proudly cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitanism is not, however, a political asset for American presidential candidates. Least of all is it an asset for Obama, one of whose urgent needs is to seem comfortable with America's vibrant and very un-European patriotism, which is grounded in a sense of virtuous exceptionalism.

Otherwise, "citizen of the world" and "global citizenship" are, strictly speaking, nonsense. Citizenship is defined by legal and loyalty attachments to a particular political entity with a distinctive regime and culture. Neither the world nor the globe is such an entity.

In Berlin, Obama neared self-parody with a rhetoric of Leave No Metaphor Behind. "Walls"? Down with them. "Bridges"? Build new ones between this and that. "A new dawn"? The Middle East deserves one. And Berlin was the wrong place to vow to "remake the world once again." Modern Berlin rose from rubble that was the result of the last attempt at remaking "the world."

Of course, from Obama, such tropes, although silly, are not menacing, any more than they were from Ronald Reagan, who was incorrigibly fond of perhaps the least conservative, and therefore the most absurd, proposition ever penned by a political philosopher, Thomas Paine's "we have it in our power to begin the world over again." No. We. Don't.

The world is a fact, and facts are indeed stubborn things. After eight years, if such there are, of an Obama presidency, if such there is, the world will look much as it does today -- if we are lucky.

Swift and sweeping changes are almost always calamitous consequences of calamities -- often of wars, sometimes of people determined to "remake the world." Wise voters -- polls might be telling us that there are more of them than Obama imagines -- hanker for candidates whose principal promise is that they will do their best to muddle through without breaking too much crockery.



The better question would be is Obama’s narcissism pathological?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More like pandering to the needs of the Europeans, whose vital interests do no necessarily coincide with ours. Maybe he should have devoted more time to talking to small business owners, rather than taking a premature victory lap around Europe.

You three are a hoot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...