Obama the Frightened Child

As a youngster at bedtime, I remember being immensely entertained, and more than a little frightened, listening to the opening lines of Kipling's "A Smuggler's Song":

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by ...

"Smuggler's" is all about smuggling in nineteenth-century Britain, but its theme is that children best turn their head to the wall when something scary seems to be going on outside in the dark.

A lot of fun.  Even today, when you have to explain many of the antiquated terms to a child.

But never in the long history of this poem would you have expected to find its theme parading around as the ruling principle of an American president, as it does in Barack Obama's administration – so much so that it should be emblazoned on the lecterns he lectures us from, embroidered on the $12,000 designer dresses his wife tries to impress us with, and even escutcheoned on the golf carts he waves to us peasants from. 

"Look away."  "Pull the blanket over your head."  "Close those eyes real tight now."

But it is worse than that because he carries the theme forward in subscribing to the ancient notion that saying the Devil's name "abracadabra" will summon him by superstitiously refusing to label bad things – believing, it seems, that if you actually say words like "Islamic terrorism" or "long-term unemployment" out loud, they'll become all too real.

But that's the rub with people like him, isn't it?  The fact that they never want to be confronted with actual problems because they never want to go face to face with the issue of solving them.  Their careers have been in "community service" or government.  They've never had to lay a real brick wall, fight a real war, be in a business situation where they had to get a real number or wind up on the street, successfully pitch a real sale, raise a real crop, or rope a real steer.

And so the thought of being measured by a standard that demands real outcomes terrifies them.

Why, such a thing is even racist!

So they pretend and pretend and pretend. 

Look back.  We hired Barack Obama as our chief executive and with any amount of hope in our hearts went down his dreary road with him.  He insisted that his trillion-dollar stimulus would jumpstart the economy; we tried it, and the economy tanked.  He promised us we could keep our own doctor and every American family would save $2,500 a year on medical insurance premiums with Obamacare; we tried it, and the exact opposite happened.  He promised us that things would be okay if we ran from Iraq; we did, and our retreat produced one of the worst horrors in human history.  Now he insists we have never been stronger militarily, but when we look, we see that the Marine Corps has been hollowed out, the Air Force is flying half the number of planes it used to, the Navy keeps shrinking, the Army is approaching its lowest level since before World War II, and the Russians are laughing at us as the Chinese build better aircraft carriers.

Last but not least, there's the issue of racial animosity, something Obama was supposed to help the nation transcend.  Indeed, it was his biggest selling point – some would say (and I do) his only selling point.  Yet instead of improving with his time in office, the animus has increased.

Barack Obama cannot admit the disastrous results of his policies.  Ever.  Like just the other day, when he pretended that the $400 million cash that had to arrive in Iran before the hostages' plane was allowed to leave wasn't a ransom.  Because if he does admit things like that, then it may overwhelm the cult of personality that was his only means of reaching office and remains the one hope of holding his head up in retirement.

And so his anxious charade winds on down and down through it last six months in power, denying, denying, and denying again.  Pretending that Donald Trump is an idiot and Obama a sage.  That America was never more respected abroad than it is now.  That poverty, despair, and resignation among the people have not increased.  Dreading that awful day when he has to hustle Michelle out of the White House still working on her last plate of taxpayer-paid French fries, and she, he, the kids, and Valerie Jarrett (in spirit, at least, the other wife sharia law allows) all go off to their sumptuous publicly funded retirement in some Washington or Chicago mansion guarded by troops of publicly funded Secret Service agents.

Take your pick.  It's either the stuff revolutions are made of or a Pink Panther cartoon come to life.

And so unnecessary.  Because just as we shouldn't elect a frightfully demanding child in the person of Hillary Clinton, we never should have elected a frightened demanding child like Barack Obama to that high office.  Because America never was and never should be about personality cults, make-believe or being so terrified of the real world that you cannot even speak longer than a minute without a teleprompter. 

We're Americans.  We don't scare.

Except at bedtime, when Mom and Dad are funning us with an old poem.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD.  See it here.  He lives and writes in the colonial-era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs here; and can also be reached at miniterhome@gmail.com.

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