Saturday, July 28, 2012

Glenbarry Glen Ross

A perplexing fact - Polls continue to indicate that President Obama's "likability" remains relatively high even as his policies come under fire. Many see him as basically a good guy who's just in way over his head. I suspect this has something to do with people wanting to see the country's first black president succeed. Obama's overall approval rating is probably inflated by this sentiment.
Believing, as I do, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin, I have no such constraint. I think Obama is a nasty SOB who repeatedly mocks and belittles those he opposes or disagrees with. The media depiction of Obama as a post-partisan, post-racial healer is a sham. The president is post-courtesy, post-decency, post-respect.
A few of the better known instances of his incivility are presented here by Matthew Continetti. (Continetti provides just a sampling. A comprehensive listing would fill a book).

On April 6, 2008, he told a rather cartoonish audience at a San Francisco fundraiser that “it’s not surprising” he wasn’t winning the votes of working-class whites in the Democratic Party, because years of betrayal by the political class had made them “get bitter, they cling to their guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or … uh, anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

...while campaigning for Massachusetts’ attorney general Martha Coakley to replace the late Edward M. Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, Obama seemed obsessed with Republican state senator (and eventual victor) Scott Brown’s pickup truck, poking fun at it repeatedly during a last-minute campaign rally. A month later, at the health-care summit, Obama could not hide his contempt as John McCain explained why his constituents and a national majority opposed the president’s proposal for a health-care overhaul. When McCain finished, Obama dismissed him by sniping that "The election's over" as though the four-term senator had no legitimate grounds for opposition.

Obama also urged Hispanic voters to "punish our enemies" on a Spanish radio station. Post-racial indeed.

He mocked Mitt Romney's use of the word "marvelous" when Romney used it to describe Paul Ryan's proposed budget. With his trademark smirk and an irritating "heh heh", Obama let his crowd know only a dweeb like Romney would use an uncool word like "marvelous". (Fox News investigated and found at least two instances of Obama using it).

And of course, there's Obama's remarks in Roanoke, Virginia on July 13 - containing the now infamous phrase "you didn't build that". Since Democrats are claiming that the phrase has been taken out of context, here's the piece in its entirety.

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me—because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t—look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

(Incidentally, the internet was created by a collaboration of industry, academia and yes, government. Credit for the growth of the internet into the colossus as it exists today goes solely to the usual suspects - the energy, imagination and hard work of the private sector. Gordon Crovitz (WSJ) tells the story here and here).

Continetti states that although most of the attention has been concentrated on Obama's second paragraph,
...the truly revealing and disturbing idea is in the first paragraph, in which the president of the United States of America, the richest nation in the world, says he is “always struck” by “people who think” that individual smarts and hard work are responsible for success. The fools! Don’t they know achievement is a function of lavish government contracts to education and construction unions? Can’t they comprehend that innovation results from taxpayer-financed loan guarantees to companies owned by Democratic Party donors?

It's a remarkable spectacle - the president showering scorn on those he was elected to serve.

One of my favorite movies is Glengarry Glen Ross, the film version of David Mamet's play about the (probably fictional) cutthroat world of shady real estate dealing in Brooklyn, New York. One of the best scenes in the movie has the character Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, sent by his bosses to motivate the company's salesmen. He does so with a barrage of profanity laced insults. (The entire film is profanity laced). At one point Blake directs his invective at a salesman named Moss (Ed Harris).

I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see, pal, that's who I am. And you're nothing. Nice guy? I don't give a s---. Good father? F--- you -- go home and play with your kids!!

Baldwin goes on like this for more than five minutes. It's his only scene in the movie.

Watching Obama speak in Roanoke made me think of Baldwin in GGR. All that's missing is the profanity, but that's an issue of propriety. A presidential candidate (much less a president) is not going to use the F-word. However, a perceptive listener can fill in the blanks. Link to the video, notice the contempt in his voice, in his demeanor, and imagine him saying

...look, if you’ve been successful, I don't give a s---.
I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. Well, f--- you. There are a lot of smart people out there.

Moss could have been referring to Obama when he responded to Blake's rant with,

Bunch of f---in' nonsense...treat people like that.

Yes it is.

Obama speech

Baldwin scene (His tirade is fun to watch).

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