Obama in the Buff
"The emperor has no clothes!" That was the cry of a small child in the Hans Christian Andersen tale as the emperor made his way past, entirely unclothed, while no one had the nerve to speak up.
That's pretty much the situation today. With the recent exception of Maureen Dowd's scathing critique of Obama's convention acceptance speech ("My fellow citizens, you were the change...We were the change?"), there hasn't been much media criticism of the president. Liberal commentators continue to gloss over the mistakes of the most partisan and inept administration in our history.
There is a great deal that is embarrassing about this administration, just as there was about the emperor in Andersen's tale, even when he had his clothes on. Because he had no real interest in governing -- he was all for show -- the emperor was easily swayed by charlatans. Because he was arrogant, he refused to accept criticism. And because he was by nature immoderate and extreme, he engaged in foolish and excessive spending. More than anything, he cared about his appearance, and all his efforts went into propping up his approval ratings.
No one around the emperor spoke up, even when he made the most outlandish mistakes. They were all afraid of this haughty ruler, afraid of being charged with disloyalty or of seeming old-fashioned. After all, the emperor's new clothes were the product of an entirely new technology that no one understood but everyone was supposed to believe in -- a bit like solar, wind, and biofuel today. It was not politically correct to suggest that there might actually be nothing there.
Like the emperor of yore, Obama continues to parade around in his magical clothes, isolated from reality by left-wing advisers and shielded from criticism by a weak and acquiescent media. Not many in the Washington press corps are going to point out that, figuratively speaking, the president isn't wearing any clothes. His promises to create 5 million green energy jobs have come to nothing, as has his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, but who in the national media is pointing that out? Certainly nobody in the mainstream media covering the Democratic Party convention last week in Charlotte.
Even so, everyone in America knows that the last four years have been a bust. Obama's health care reform bill is wildly unpopular. His attacks on American business are a disgrace. American families are earning $4,000 less than they were four years ago. And Obama, who plays the race card at every turn, is the most racially divisive figure in American politics since George Wallace. So why isn't anyone pointing it out?
The answer is right there in the Andersen tale. The two swindlers manage to convince the emperor's court that those who cannot see the invisible cloth they are weaving are either unfit for their office or stupid. Fearing that they actually are unfit or stupid, one adviser after another heaps praise on the swindlers' workmanship. Fearing that he is unfit or stupid, the emperor also falls for the ruse. No one wants to admit that he is unfit for office and that things are just not working.
No one in the liberal press wants to be the first to speak out, because he will automatically be accused of being unfit and stupid, and disloyal to boot. Everyone recalls the treatment of ABC news anchor Charles Gibson when, in a June 2008 televised debate between Obama and Hillary Clinton, he had the nerve to ask candidate Obama a probing question. His question pointed out that raising capital gains taxes historically results in lower, not higher, revenues for government. So why would Obama want to raise capital gains taxes? Answer: "Well, Charlie, what I said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for the purpose of fairness."
That lame and illogical answer should have sounded a warning that something was amiss. Right then and there, the media should have pointed out that Obama was so far to the left that he would demand higher taxes on the rich even if doing so imperiled the economy. They should have recognized that Obama's view of reality had not evolved beyond that of a teenaged radical encountering Karl Marx for the first time. And they, the media, should have had the integrity to point out how truly childish Obama's travesty of sixties activism actually is. Instead, they closed ranks against Charles Gibson. And Gibson ("Mr. Look Down Your Glasses") performed the required ablution with his shamefully condescending interview with Sarah Palin.
So as one disaster follows another -- the implosion of "green energy jobs," the Fast and Furious scandal, the "you didn't build that" speech -- it becomes clear that Obama really is just what he seemed: a radical leftist who is incapable of governing because of his unwillingness to compromise. Asked about job-creation in the private sector, the president responds that everything is "just fine." Well, four years of 8%-plus unemployment is not "just fine." Not unless you're living in the same fantasyland as Andersen's emperor.
Like that foolish monarch with his "new clothes," Obama continues to parade around like everything is just fine. Gas prices have doubled since Obama took office, but that's just fine. There is five trillion in new debt, but that's just fine. ObamaCare has been shoved down the throat of a public that doesn't want it, but that's just fine. Don't you just adore my new clothes?
On the day of the Great Procession, Andersen's emperor marches through the streets under a royal canopy, haughty and proud of his superior taste in attire, assured that he is fit to continue governing and wearing absolutely nothing. Once again, every observer fears that he may be unfit or stupid, so no one dares to say a word. Not until a small child sees the emperor in the buff and points it out.
"But he has nothing on at all!" cries the child. At first everyone balks, not wanting to admit the evidence of his own senses. "But he has nothing on at all!" cries the child again, unwilling to be silenced. So, finally, everyone looks with his own eyes, and soon everyone realizes that it is true. Despite all his talk of "smart" governance, this arrogant and foolish leader really understood nothing of how to govern. He has spent enormous sums of taxpayer money on an "investment" that came to nothing, and now, quite literally, he has nothing to show for it.
The day of reckoning is approaching when the American people will recognize that Obama, too, has spent lavishly and has nothing to show for it. Perhaps the voice of Maureen Dowd will begin to wake them up. Probably it will require others. But sooner or later, the public will realize that this president's efforts have come to naught. And after that, the emperor's reign will come to an ignominious end.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and article on American culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).