Picture emerging of Obama as arrogant, bored, and 'peevish' about campaign
As I read Game Change , a recurring motif is how often Barack Obama would be bored or annoyed by either his Senatorial duties or the rigors of campaigning. He is not infrequently "fatigued" or "tired" or "peevish." If we had known of these qualities we might better have appreciated his readiness for the office.
He has been AWOL quite often on the issues of the day (his penchant for playing golf is a problem) as others toil away to do the heavy lifting (Reid, Pelosi). He was slow to respond to the Christmas Day terror attack, as well. They just weren't fun as say, trips down Broadway or to Copenhagen or some speeches before crowds.
Excerpt (page 108):
The schedule was killing him. The fatigue was all-consuming. The events piled up on top of one another, making his temples ache. He tried not to bitch and moan too much, except when it got out of hand-meaning almost every day.
He also grew exasperated that Hillary would continue her campaign as long as she did-how dare she? "Obama was frustrated. By the end of his winning streak, the thrill of victory had lost a modicum of its luster for him. He complained to his aides about the sameness of the succession of mega-rallies, about a certain staleness creeping in" (page 229). He complained that , "these people never die" (meaning the Clintons).
"His irritation was leavened by a grudging respect for Hillary's tenacity" (page 229). Irritation - how dare they not fall into line. When Hillary started winning contests, "Obama was having no fun at all. He was consumed by visions of doom"(page 248). The book is laced with this dichotomy: he was blissful and happy when the crowds were rapturous towards him (even that was subject to the laws of diminishing returns but was dejected and irritated when the slog continued, just as he found work as a Senator drudgery.
That is just one of many examples of his approach to the hard work of campaigning. No wonder he complains about the mess he has had to clean up
His team had , of course, done background research regarding Hillary Clinton. The public had "Clinton fatigue, that is was bubbling out there..the trick would be to incite it, subtly, by implication and inference. To revive the voters' worst memories of the Clinton years..to eviscerate her without damaging Obama's reputation as an exponent of clear politics. To go negative, in other words, without seeming nasty. We will do this, Obama said , but he was adamant that certain ethical boundaries not be breached".
Well it is commendable that certain boundaries were established - unclear and unstated as they may have been. But it certainly did not extend to refusing to use the race card against Hillary Clinton and later McCain. The book reveals several examples of how Obama and his campaign played the race card (distorting Bill Clinton's words, referring to McCain supporters who may not vote for a man to be President who doesn't look like other presidents on dollar bills, working with black media to stoke the issue, using surrogates such as Jesse Jackson, Jr., to prolong the controversy-see page 198).
He also taunted Hillary Clinton with the story that her campaign had planted a question at a public appearance. "Obama was enjoying himself, too, at Hillary's expense. He and his advisers took no small pleasure in the planted question story..at town halls, Obama would slyly mock Clinton" by challenging the audience to ask him any question they want (page 160). Then, of course, there was his mocking comment after she was asked about her likeability "You're likeable enough Hillary." Afterwards, Hillary "marveled, yet again, at the insufferability of Obama's arrogance" (page 180).
He also was offended when John McCain called him out for hypocrisy. Obama had agreed to work with McCain and others on both sides of the aisle for a bipartisan initiative on ethics. Obama had attended a meeting with the bipartisan group but then backed away, neglecting to call McCain to inform him of his decision to instead side with a Democratic version of ethics legislation. McCain was offended at what he considered both a betrayal and rudeness and objected that Obama was just exploiting the issue for political gain. Obama retorted to his staff, "I'm not interested in being bitch-slapped by John McCain" (pages 324-325). This is just one example of Barack Obama's use of profanity revealed in the book - apparently the master of rhetoric and one of the great orators of our time is not reluctant to swear-including the "F-Word."
When the financial crisis hit before election day and both McCain and Obama flew to Washington to meet with President Bush and Congressional leaders to discuss what needed to be done, "Obama was annoyed at having to be there rather than preparing for the debate" (page 387). Obama being annoyed and irritated and peevish are not uncommon occurrences.
So much for a new kind of politics. No politics of joy here.
Running throughout the book is the pass that major media continually gave Barack Obama. All these instances of his conduct and revelations of his feeling bored, fatigued, irritated, annoyed were readily available real time in 2008. Instead the media fell into line and refused to report. Even now we see the same bias in play: why have none of these revelations about Barack Obama been covered by any of the many reviews of this best-selling book?
As people read this book - and it is compulsively readable - they should ask themselves the same question: why does Barack Obama always get a pass from the media -- always?