Obama on Obama 2.0

Peter Baker's interview of the president in the New York Times Magazine (appearing in print today) has many creepy moments in it. To start with, Mr. Obama "has spent what one aide called 'a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0.'"

What is the administration's fixation in seeing itself as a computer program? To show that Mr. Obama is With It? Up-to-Date? Comfortable with Technology? Remember the "reset" of our relations with Russia and Iran? Worked out splendidly, that did. And now Obama 2.0? It fits with the media's laudatory meme during the election: "no drama Obama." Cool. Oh, yeah, he was so cool. Nothing flustered him. More like an automaton as he reads his teleprompters. As America has gotten to know him, it has become clear that the cool emanates not from a calm center, but from a vacuity, an inability to empathize with others.

But wait -- Baker informs us that Mr. Obama has "learned" from his years in office, learned "what he called 'tactical lessons.' He let himself look too much like 'the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.'" Has this man ever done anything wrong? Deficits four times higher than the highest under the terror of G.W. Bush, deficits that he intends to continue for every one of his hoped-for eight years, and, mirabile dictu, people got the impression that he was "the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat"? How could his subjects be so -- so...unfair? It's a perception problem: he just looks like one. Everyone has blinders, but our president lives in a cocoon.

And then there's the naïveté riff, the I'm-no-politician excuse:

Given how much stuff was coming at us ... we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration -- and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top -- that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who's occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.

Was there ever an administration more permanently in campaign mode? The endless stream of magazine articles and TV appearances and speeches and faux townhalls (but few press conferences) to sell the ignorant public on the wonders of health care "reform" and all the other measures Team Obama was doing for us? Was there ever an administration less "neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion"? Granted, it did not work out very well, but that was not for want of trying.

Baker was bold enough to read Mr. Obama his fatuous lines after securing the Democrats' nomination:

"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 good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth."

I read that line to Obama and asked how his high-flying rhetoric sounded in these days of low-flying governance. "It sounds ambitious," he agreed. "But you know what? We've made progress on each of those fronts."

There's that No-Drama Cool again. Kinda, ya know, sounds ambitious. How does the president measure the healing of the planet? The same way he calculates the Number of Jobs Saved by the stimulus? The man appears to be incapable of embarrassment.

The hauteur of the president and his staff peeps out of every paragraph. "White House aides wonder aloud whether it is even possible for a modern president to succeed, no matter how many bills he signs." That's it! We hunger for the president to sign more bills! Just sign so we can discover what's in them! More! More! More!

When the Obamaites look around for scapegoats, they see many: "1, an implacable opposition with little if any real interest in collaboration; 2, a news media saturated with triviality and conflict; 3, a culture that demands solutions yesterday; 4, a societal cynicism that holds leadership in low regard" [numbers added].

Let's take these seriatim. 1. Remember when the president told congressional Republicans, "I won"? So who had "little if any real interest in collaboration"? 2. Taking potshots at the media is too easy -- I'll pass this time. 3. Oh, are we ever impatient. Obama promised jobs for the jobless, that the seas would recede, that the planet would heal itself, and what do we get? Rising unemployment and cap-and-tax and stimulus dollars spent educating Africans how to wash their penises after sex. Sign more bills -- that's what we crave! More! Faster! 4. To take just one instance of cynicism, a huge majority of Americans were and are opposed to health care "reform," yet Obama and Harry and Nancy jammed it down our throats (while exempting themselves). And we're the ones who are cynical about such "leadership"? The president gives chutzpah a bad name.

And then Baker gives away the game without even thinking:

Obama came to office with enormous faith in his own powers of persuasion. He seemed to believe he could overcome divisions if he just sat down with the world's most recalcitrant figures -- whether they be the mullahs in Tehran or the Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Obama's enemies are Iranian mullahs and Republicans! Except he has handled the mullahs with kid gloves, saving the bellicose, breast-beating, belligerent rhetoric for his fellow countrymen: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." And the Left lectures the Republicans about the tone of our political discourse.

"One prominent Democratic lawmaker told me Obama's problem is that he is not insecure -- he always believes he is the smartest person in any room." Thinking you are the smartest person on the planet is not a sign of insecurity? I'm waiting for the psychiatrists to unpack that one for us.

Finally, we learn that Obama's contempt of two years ago for Bill Clinton has turned to hope -- hope that he can become Clinton by getting reelected rather than Carter, sent home in ignominy two years hence. My, how hope can change.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d@gmail.com.
Peter Baker's interview of the president in the New York Times Magazine (appearing in print today) has many creepy moments in it. To start with, Mr. Obama "has spent what one aide called 'a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0.'"

What is the administration's fixation in seeing itself as a computer program? To show that Mr. Obama is With It? Up-to-Date? Comfortable with Technology? Remember the "reset" of our relations with Russia and Iran? Worked out splendidly, that did. And now Obama 2.0? It fits with the media's laudatory meme during the election: "no drama Obama." Cool. Oh, yeah, he was so cool. Nothing flustered him. More like an automaton as he reads his teleprompters. As America has gotten to know him, it has become clear that the cool emanates not from a calm center, but from a vacuity, an inability to empathize with others.

But wait -- Baker informs us that Mr. Obama has "learned" from his years in office, learned "what he called 'tactical lessons.' He let himself look too much like 'the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.'" Has this man ever done anything wrong? Deficits four times higher than the highest under the terror of G.W. Bush, deficits that he intends to continue for every one of his hoped-for eight years, and, mirabile dictu, people got the impression that he was "the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat"? How could his subjects be so -- so...unfair? It's a perception problem: he just looks like one. Everyone has blinders, but our president lives in a cocoon.

And then there's the naïveté riff, the I'm-no-politician excuse:

Given how much stuff was coming at us ... we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration -- and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top -- that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who's occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.

Was there ever an administration more permanently in campaign mode? The endless stream of magazine articles and TV appearances and speeches and faux townhalls (but few press conferences) to sell the ignorant public on the wonders of health care "reform" and all the other measures Team Obama was doing for us? Was there ever an administration less "neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion"? Granted, it did not work out very well, but that was not for want of trying.

Baker was bold enough to read Mr. Obama his fatuous lines after securing the Democrats' nomination:

"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 good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth."

I read that line to Obama and asked how his high-flying rhetoric sounded in these days of low-flying governance. "It sounds ambitious," he agreed. "But you know what? We've made progress on each of those fronts."

There's that No-Drama Cool again. Kinda, ya know, sounds ambitious. How does the president measure the healing of the planet? The same way he calculates the Number of Jobs Saved by the stimulus? The man appears to be incapable of embarrassment.

The hauteur of the president and his staff peeps out of every paragraph. "White House aides wonder aloud whether it is even possible for a modern president to succeed, no matter how many bills he signs." That's it! We hunger for the president to sign more bills! Just sign so we can discover what's in them! More! More! More!

When the Obamaites look around for scapegoats, they see many: "1, an implacable opposition with little if any real interest in collaboration; 2, a news media saturated with triviality and conflict; 3, a culture that demands solutions yesterday; 4, a societal cynicism that holds leadership in low regard" [numbers added].

Let's take these seriatim. 1. Remember when the president told congressional Republicans, "I won"? So who had "little if any real interest in collaboration"? 2. Taking potshots at the media is too easy -- I'll pass this time. 3. Oh, are we ever impatient. Obama promised jobs for the jobless, that the seas would recede, that the planet would heal itself, and what do we get? Rising unemployment and cap-and-tax and stimulus dollars spent educating Africans how to wash their penises after sex. Sign more bills -- that's what we crave! More! Faster! 4. To take just one instance of cynicism, a huge majority of Americans were and are opposed to health care "reform," yet Obama and Harry and Nancy jammed it down our throats (while exempting themselves). And we're the ones who are cynical about such "leadership"? The president gives chutzpah a bad name.

And then Baker gives away the game without even thinking:

Obama came to office with enormous faith in his own powers of persuasion. He seemed to believe he could overcome divisions if he just sat down with the world's most recalcitrant figures -- whether they be the mullahs in Tehran or the Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Obama's enemies are Iranian mullahs and Republicans! Except he has handled the mullahs with kid gloves, saving the bellicose, breast-beating, belligerent rhetoric for his fellow countrymen: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." And the Left lectures the Republicans about the tone of our political discourse.

"One prominent Democratic lawmaker told me Obama's problem is that he is not insecure -- he always believes he is the smartest person in any room." Thinking you are the smartest person on the planet is not a sign of insecurity? I'm waiting for the psychiatrists to unpack that one for us.

Finally, we learn that Obama's contempt of two years ago for Bill Clinton has turned to hope -- hope that he can become Clinton by getting reelected rather than Carter, sent home in ignominy two years hence. My, how hope can change.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d@gmail.com.

RECENT VIDEOS