December 28, 2009
Obama's Image: What a Difference a Year MakesBy Ed Lasky
Almost a year has passed since January 20, 2009 -- when the waters of the ocean no longer rose and America began to heal from the depredations of Republicans. Barack Obama has been our president for that long, and the people have started to wise up.
The light that shines on Barack Obama as president has reflected back an image that bears very little similarity to the iconic visage that floated above us all in 2008. Why has Barack Obama betrayed so many allies, broken so many promises, thrown so many pledges and people under the bus?
One simple aphorism (paraphrasing Winston Churchill) can explain it all. Barack Obama is no longer a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Much about his past remains murky, but faced with the need to govern, he has given the American people plenty of evidence of his nature...if only they will look.
Obama is a cynic wrapped in a hypocrite inside a bully.
This comes as a shock to many, who are dismayed to find that he is "just a politician," as Reverend Wright, Jr. (who knows him so well) called him back in 2008. But Wright was being all too kind and generous to his future former parishioner (Wright followed a long and ever-growing line of people trampled by Barack Obama's rise.)
But Barack Obama is far more than just a politician. We all swallow a lot from politicians; we know that many pander and narrowcast, changing their message to suit their audience. But Obama expressly campaigned as a man who would not do this. He was the candidate of hope and change -- he would bring a big broom to sweep clean the Augean Stables known as Washington, D.C. He called forth the better angels of our nature (hat tip: Honest Abe Lincoln, one of the truly honest politicians from Illinois) and tapped into a deep yearning for the rarest of the real things: an honest leader.
Obama defined his campaign with high-sounding rhetoric that "[his] rival in this race is not other candidates, but cynicism." The line resonated and soon became his mantra.
He later asked us to fight cynicism and revealingly told us that cynics believe they are smarter than everyone else. To this it could be said that Obama knows what that is like.
Could there be anything more cynical than to look upon Americans as being too forgetful to remember all the broken promises Obama made?
These include -- but are not limited to -- a promise that there would be no health care mandates (there are); that he would take a scalpel to the budget and bring down the deficit (headed towards the stratosphere as he rewards his own special interest groups); and that he would end earmarks (his spending bills are polluted by them; he is, after all, a Chicago politician).
He promised to close Gitmo -- not a done deal, and like many deadlines he promised, no one is sure when or if this will happen.
He promised the end of partisanship, but he has stoked it to a roaring blaze with his refusal to work with Republicans. He promised to end our wars, but now he is sending more forces into Afghanistan.
He stated that he would fight the gay marriage ban, but instead he ended up supporting it, in effect, by defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
He promised the most transparent administration in history, but instead he imposes layers of secrecy and invokes executive powers to cloak his administration from scrutiny (e.g., his use of executive privilege to protect Desiree Rogers, his social secretary, from questioning regarding the WhiteHouseGate-crashers).
We were promised that if we passed the stimulus bill under Barack Obama's presidency, then the unemployment rate would drop below 8% by now -- and here we are, during Christmas season, cruising along at a solid 10% (17% if we include the underemployed and those who left the workforce because they saw no prospects of landing a job).
We were promised that the anti-Bush would restore respect for America around the world and bring international comity. Instead, he has alienated our allies and empowered our adversaries -- a dynamic that has brought all but zero benefits to America (very little cooperation in Afghanistan, on "climate change," or on Iran's nuclear program). While he may have snagged himself a Nobel Peace Prize, the leaders of the world are increasingly treating him, and America, with disrespect and contempt.
The betrayals are so breathtaking and widespread (all of his promises have an expiration date) that all one can surmise is that the ultimate cynic is the One who campaigned against cynicism.
We can sense that Obama is a cynic by referring back to his own definition: someone who thinks he is smarter than everyone else.
We have abundant evidence of this derisive attitude.
Obama had the ego to think he was better than the key experts playing roles in his victory: He is apparently smarter than his policy directors and political directors, and he's a better speechwriter to boot.
We know how Obama feels about small-town Americans: They are bitter yokels who cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment. But he has additionally demeaned a wide range of other Americans (doctors, cops, Special Olympics contestants, and many more, as you can see via the Insulter-in-Chief). And how many of us are the "typical white person" he derided in the not-so-distant past? Patriots who wear flags on their lapels? They are among the great unwashed.
We also know how Obama feels about people living in suburbia. He has no use for those people in the gray flannel suits. He said, in an un-teleprompted remark: "I'm not interested in suburbs. The suburbs bore me."
As Barack Obama has intoned, words matter.
Yes, they do Mr. President, especially in the days of YouTube, Google, and the internet. These are the tools the common folk can tap to remember your promises -- and your breaking of them.
These are the videos we can watch instead of the redacted versions put out by your pals and accomplices in the media --those versions scrubbed clean of your malapropisms, mistakes, stammering, evasions, and most importantly, your broken promises. Only a cynic would think of us as being too forgetful or ignorant to recognize the Big Lie.
Only a certifiable cynic would consider the American people so unperceptive as to not recognize the wide gap between the image and the reality, the promises made and broken, the differences between the smiling visage on the Shepard Fairey posters (themselves a fraud -- how symbolic!) and the hectoring, finger-pointing, vengeful curmudgeon we now have in the Oval Office.
The hypocrisy knows no bounds, either.
A hypocrite decries the role of money in politics and then breaks his promise to accept public financing for his presidential campaign (because he could see the money rolling in) while his challenger kept his promise to abide by the campaign law he himself created. Was there a certain degree of cynicism displayed there by Obama, knowing McCain was hoisted on his own petard?
A hypocrite preaches that he will bring us together as a people and heal our wounds when he wants our votes -- but after he wins, he practices the politics of polarization and declares that he wants not "to quell people's anger," but to channel it.
Only a hypocrite would campaign on a platform of bringing us together ("we are one people," "this was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation," "there is no red America, there is no blue America," etc.) and then stoke the very polarization that he promised would end in the Age of Obama. His guru, Saul Alinksy, would be happy that his Rules for Radicals has become the blueprint for how the president can run, and ruin, a great nation.
Only a hypocrite would engage in as many baldfaced lies as our president has over the past few years. The end of lobbyists? Balderdash. In fact, as a Politico headline noted, "Lobbyists are on pace for a record year."
And what is a lobbyist? What is the meaning of the term when Andy Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union, is such a frequent visitor to the White House that he might as well sublet some space in the Lincoln Bedroom? Does anyone think Andy Stern is there to talk about the weather? A lobbyist by any other name is still, in the end, a lobbyist.
Barack Obama has also countenanced the buying of votes (payoffs to states to get senators to sign on Harry Reid's health care reform bill) in the Senate to get ObamaCare passed.
Obama decried the politics of fear during the campaign and then employed the same as president -- as he did when he had the audacity to predict the "bankruptcy" of America should ObamaCare not pass. Or, before that, he augured the collapse of the economy should the stimulus bill not pass. When every bill becomes a do-or-die proposition, is that not playing the politics of fear?
Is it hypocritical to tout that tax dollars are not "monopoly money" and that we "can't continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences" while engaging in irresponsible profligacy that would make Nero blanch? (Obama has a history of problems with his own credit standing, but now he is playing with our money.)
Does he think others are too stupid -- the belief that most defines a cynic -- to realize that his deficit-plagued budgets are a sure way to penury for us and our children and grandchildren?
Decrying fat cats while calling up a jet for a trip to Manhattan and a stroll down the Great White Way of Broadway? Taking jaunts to Copenhagen to try to snag the Olympics for his hometown pals in Chicago, who, no doubt, were hoping to snag some lucre? That's the Chicago Way. One could go on.
All this cynicism and hypocrisy is wrapped up and empowered by the other notable feature of Barack Obama: Our president is a bully.
Among the many examples: demeaning "fat cats" and telling Wall Street bankers that he is the only one standing between them and the pitchforks; telling a recalcitrant Democratic Congressman that they'd better toe the line because "we are keeping score, brother"; belittling allies, such as the Israelis, by telling them they need to be more self-reflective; trying to impose a left-wing lunatic dictator wanna-be on the innocent people of Honduras; dissing Eastern Europeans by not giving them a respectful warning that he was going to break a promise to them regarding missile bases in their nations; and forcing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to grovel in a kitchen in order to have a few words with the President of the United States. (This treatment is attributable, speculates the Wall Street Journal, to some personal bad will between Great Britain and some Kenyan ancestors of Barack Obama. The man knows how to hold an ancestral grudge -- even if it means the rest of America suffers from slighting one of our formerly most treasured allies).
A bully is someone who can justify his actions by bragging that "I won." Whatever happened to the slogan "Yes we can"? Whatever happened to the "new kind of politics"? Well, they're so 2008.
A bully is someone who taunts, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
A bully is someone who runs roughshod over not only his opponents (politics can be a blood sport, after all), but also the Constitution -- as Obama has from almost day one of the One. Here are just a few examples of his inclination to ignore our most sacred document: czars exercising power without being approved by the Senate; violating the property clause by ignoring bankruptcy law -- as he did with the auto bailouts and attempted to do with mortgage "cram-down" plans; the chilling of free speech by threats against Fox News and by bringing back the threat of regulation affecting talk radio. Even health care reform has come under scrutiny for violating the Constitution.
There is a cliché in Washington: that all one needs to know about politics can be learned on the playground. But perhaps Obama's street-smart education was learned on the basketball court -- where height reigns (and there is no higher office in America), and where trash-talk is used to demoralize and defeat.
A cynic wrapped in a hypocrite inside a bully.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.