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As he has demonstrated in all other aspects of his presidency, Barack Obama cannot match any of his predecessors (with the possible exceptions of James Buchanan and Jimmy Carter) in any area. This has become evident again in his lame attempt to coin a memorable political phrase, action, or idea. Romnesia is his latest lead zeppelin.
"Romnesia" is Obama's idea of a clever put-down of Mitt Romney. Obama spits it out like an automaton at campaign rallies around the country. The term Romnesia is instructive and reflects Obama perfectly. It is not presidential. It is not statesmanlike. It is a cheap shot aimed at cheap laughs. It doesn't really make much sense. It is a gimmick based on a fiction and the opposite of witty.
One expects more of the most literate president in American history. We were told and told and retold by his courtiers in 2008 and beyond that Obama was the most gifted literary talent to have ever occupied the White House. Obama, it was said, was a better writer than Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. That was the narrative eagerly spread and lapped up by uncurious journalists and citizens with no command of literature, literary criticism, or American history.
This despite the fact that Jefferson largely wrote the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address and countless other classic state papers, Grant, according to Mark Twain, wrote the greatest memoir since Julius Caesar's Commentaries, and Roosevelt's pen never stopped from the great The Naval War of 1812 to Through the Brazilian Wilderness. Obama, we were told, was a better writer even than Richard Nixon, whose post-presidential literary efforts were exhaustive and very well received. By comparison, Obama wrote (perhaps) a memoir and issued a collection of unremarkable speeches.
AT contributor Jack Cashill has cited Malcolm Gladwell's "ten-thousand hour rule" for mastery of a subject or skill. The idea is that a person must devote at least 10,000 hours to practicing a craft in order to attain the level of mastery associated with expertise. Does Romnesia seem like the sort of thing that would so easily flow from the pen of someone who has spent 10,000 hours -- or even 100 hours -- honing his craft? Or does it seem like a playground insult from a weakling too good to spend the time it takes to prove literary genius?
The only activity at which Obama has likely spent 10,000 hours is basking in the glow of unearned glory. Romnesia will live in infamy with phrases such as "fundamentally transforming the United States of America," "You didn't build that," and "Forward!" in the quotable Obama. Romnesia is fraudulent idiocy. So is its author.
Matthew May welcomes comments at email@example.com