Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Gift

From a post on the Weekly Standard blog (Rachel Abrams).
Harry Reid said this about a speech he heard Obama give in 2006.
“‘That speech was phenomenal, Barack,’ I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: ‘I have a gift, Harry.’”

True, this is Harry Reid, whom Jonah Goldberg has accurately described as being "not the brightest crayon in the box". Still it's indicative of the irrational power Obama has over his admirers that an expression of arrogance can be construed as modesty. I just don't get the cult of charisma and personality. Why are so many people enthralled by such inanities as, "I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick." And "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." And "We're the ones we've been waiting for."
I've been waiting for a lot of things in life. Myself isn't one of them. I've been here as long as I can remember.
Mark Steyn once reprinted a parody of a typical Obama speech, sent to him by a reader, "My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it." Steyn relates what followed.

I thought this was so cute, I posted it on the Web at National Review. Whereupon one of those Internetty-type things happened, and three links and a Google search later the line was being attributed not to my correspondent but to Sen. Obama, and a few weeks after that I started getting e-mails from reporters from Florida to Oregon, asking if I could recall at which campaign stop the senator, in fact, uttered these words. And I'd patiently write back and explain that they're John Gross' words, and that not even Barack would be dumb enough to say such a thing in public. Yet last week his demand in his victory speech that we "come together to remake this great nation" came awful close.

Just as George Bush's clumsiness with language made him seem less intelligent than he really was, Obama's stage skills exaggerate his intelligence. Add to that his amicable, relaxed demeanor and his seeming reasonableness and the result is his "gift". Obama is obviously not a psychopathic murderer like Jim Jones but he does have the same mesmerizing effect on susceptible followers. Not all Obama supporters have been hypnotized. There are many who believe in the idea of government as a godlike overseer, protector, and provider for the people. They know what Obama's up to and approve of it. But there are enough Kool-Aid drinkers to give Obama more power than he would normally have. Some of them now profess to be shocked, shocked! over how much he seems to want to spend. Apparently, they weren't aware that Obama had the most liberal voting record in the Senate. More liberal than the self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie Sanders. That he's been able to disguise his radicalism with a veneer of moderation is scary. It shows that Obama has the potential to substitute our country's historical propensity for the vitality of freedom with the anodyne of dependence and "equality". I really don't think that this is what the majority of Americans want.
Obama's personal approval numbers are higher than those of his policies. As his ideology becomes clearer, that may change. An editorial in the Washington Times points out that Obama's Gallup Poll approval stands at 56% which, since 1968, is the second lowest of any President in his first 100 days. Only Bill Clinton's at 55% was lower and he had the twin drags of the don't ask, don't tell, gays in the military issue and the Waco raid debacle. Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and the two Bushes were all higher. True 56% isn't bad and it's at the low end of his current pollster range. Still, if you follow the MSM line, Obama is the greatest, most admired President in history. The numbers tell a different story.
An AP headline the other day declared that Obama's legacy will be defined by the economy. Or not. Nobody has any idea what will happen next week much less the next four (or ugh, eight) years. Whoda thunk even ten days ago that two issues in the news today would be the possibility of a swine flu epidemic and a moronic White House decision to send a 747 flying 9/11 style over lower Manhattan. [All those Congressmen so outraged over the auto executives who had the temerity to use corporate jets to fly into Washington last month and plead for taxpayer handouts should now take similar umbrage at the Obama administration spending nearly $400,000 for a photo op and scaring the daylights out of New Yorkers]. Obama could be at risk for his (mis)handling of the swine flu situation. Hugh Hewitt pointed out that Obama made a (non) decision to leave the Mexican border open and allow tens of thousands of Mexicans to legally enter the U.S. If the flu turns out to be more than just a minor event, Hewitt thinks it can become Obama's Katrina.
There are countless pitfalls and dangers out in the real world just waiting to sidetrack Obama's fantasy of a prosperous, socialist America in gear with a smooth running, perpetually negotiating, peaceful global machine. He will be tested. And with the fact that, as George Will has said, Obama has never run as much as a Dairy Queen, his executive skills may not be up to it. His gift may not be one that keeps on giving.

One quick comment about Arlen Specter's party switch. The conventional wisdom (with Bill Kristol dissenting) is that this is really bad for Republicans. A reassuring thought is the old sports saying, "You're never as good as you look when you're winning and you're never as bad as you look when you're losing". (The 1962 Mets were an exception to this rule).

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