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January 26, 2011
Obama 2.0 - the SOTU
Barack Obama shape-shifting to a President who displays pride in his nation and also into a "softer, gentler" man is proceeding according to the plan I speculated about in Obama 2.0: the Reinvention Begins.
My column suggested he would transform himself into being a warmer, more personable President and that he would heed the advice of Democratic analyst William Galston who counseled him to articulate American exceptionalism.
How am I doing so far? Has the extreme makeover meant to fool us again started?
Last night's State of the Union address was heavy on atmospherics -- particularly Barack Obama's notice that Americans might actually be proud of our nation and want our President to display pride. He talked of our history of being able to overcome and surpass the Soviet Union's space technology, and of our standing with those who aspire to democracy:
Well, almost behind the scenes, Obama has eviscerated the space program. Aside from this "hypocritical moment" is this the same man who refused to wear the American flag because it was a meaningless, if not harmful and painful, symbol? Is this the same man who equivocated and basically characterized such a view as chauvinistic and simplistic, when asked if he viewed America as an " exceptional nation". He answered:
But that was before the great Democratic shellacking that seemed to have knocked some sense into his head. For all of his talk of jobs, there is one job he is particularly concerned about above all: his own. Hence, the Great Pivot has begun.
Barack Obama has also been perceived as a cold fish (though I prefer the symbol of a cold-blooded chameleon that can camouflage itself to survive). He has been derisive towards the media, contemptuous of Republicans, and condescending toward the American people. He has even belittled his own Vice-President, using him as a butt of jokes. At least six Cabinet members did not even merit a meeting with him during his first two years in office. He clearly does not enjoy press conferences and prefers platitudes delivered by teleprompter rather than relying on his own intelligence and knowledge. His high-living lifestyle -- fancy trips, his Broadway show trip after the inauguration, the series of musical soirees at the White House, pick-up basketball games with a dream team of pros, his frequent visit to the links -- has offended Americans worried about overspending and their own job futures. There is a feeling he is not one of us -- and lives in his own world.
The solution? We are about to see a new kinder and gentler Barack Obama. There is a new effort to connect with us. From Politico:
He apparently is even using the teleprompter less, after being criticized for his dependency on it not just by critics and comedians but even by Walter Mondale, who called them "idiot boards." His words, not mine.
Will the mask stay on?
One can only hope that he exposes himself to the public more, absent the teleprompter. When he is off script, we often see the real Barack Obama emerge. The one who says "suburbs bore me" (implying that those of us who live in suburbs are implicitly "boring" compared to him and live lives that are "boring" compared to his) and that small town people " get bitter" and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment."
I infer only metrosexuals and urban people matter to him.
Will he again boast that under his programs energy costs will necessarily soar and that coal mines will go bankrupt? Will we hear the rage towards "fat cats" and greedy doctors? Will he brag that "spreading the wealth" is his idea of how boost the economy?
Will Americans buy what is again being sold by the master snake-oil salesman? Will history be repeated as tragedy?