'Vanity, thy name is Obama'

Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard has penned an article that encapsulates the personality and outlook of Barack Obama as few have done.

"American Narcissus"
may deal with a familiar subject to AT readers. Several contributors have highlighted this aspect of Obama's personality since before he was elected. But Last has a good eye for the absurd, as well as being able to place Obama's vanity into a context that shows how it damages his presidency and the nation:

We risk reading too much into these vignettes-after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama's high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn't the best player on the team-or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self. That's common. What's rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his pol itical life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: "I'm LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game." After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.
Yet you don't have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama's vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan's mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama's response to him was, "I won." A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, "There was an imbalance on the opening statements because"-here he paused, self-satisfiedly-"I'm the president. And so I made, uh, I don't count my time in terms of dividing it evenly."

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago's bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about-you guessed it: "Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night," he told the committee, "people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of .  .  . " and away he went. A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a "deal." Which turned out to be worthless.

Obama's inflated sense of self finally laid him low in the 2010 mid terms. Did he learn anything? Vain people rarely do. As we saw in his press conference the day after the election, President Obama blamed everybody and everything except his own incompetent leadership and policies for the debacle.

In the end, his vainglorious image of himself may make him irrelevant, as well as a one term president.



Hat Tip: Ed Lasky


Illustration for American Thinker by Richard Terrell of TerrellAfterMath.
Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard has penned an article that encapsulates the personality and outlook of Barack Obama as few have done.

"American Narcissus"
may deal with a familiar subject to AT readers. Several contributors have highlighted this aspect of Obama's personality since before he was elected. But Last has a good eye for the absurd, as well as being able to place Obama's vanity into a context that shows how it damages his presidency and the nation:

We risk reading too much into these vignettes-after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama's high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn't the best player on the team-or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self. That's common. What's rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his pol itical life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: "I'm LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game." After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.
Yet you don't have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama's vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan's mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama's response to him was, "I won." A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, "There was an imbalance on the opening statements because"-here he paused, self-satisfiedly-"I'm the president. And so I made, uh, I don't count my time in terms of dividing it evenly."

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago's bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about-you guessed it: "Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night," he told the committee, "people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of .  .  . " and away he went. A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a "deal." Which turned out to be worthless.

Obama's inflated sense of self finally laid him low in the 2010 mid terms. Did he learn anything? Vain people rarely do. As we saw in his press conference the day after the election, President Obama blamed everybody and everything except his own incompetent leadership and policies for the debacle.

In the end, his vainglorious image of himself may make him irrelevant, as well as a one term president.



Hat Tip: Ed Lasky


Illustration for American Thinker by Richard Terrell of TerrellAfterMath.

RECENT VIDEOS