By Clarice Feldman
I really have to stop reading MayBee's sarcastic comments just before bedtime. She was making fun of Michelle Obama's teleprompter speech to some lady donors:
"It's also pretty funny to picture them, actually sitting on a sofa in the WH residence, her in a designer dress with her Jimmy Choos kicked off in the corner, him with his WH brewed honey ale, reading the 10 letters for the day and saying, 'Michelle, it just isn't right, what people are going through.' 'Why, what do you mean Barack?' 'We have to fix it. I am tired, but I can't rest until this is fixed!'"
The next thing I knew I couldn't get the image of Kipling's The Man Who Would be King out of my head. You might remember it. It's the story of two men who travel to a place called "Kafiristan" (actually Afghanistan) where they offer themselves up as military advisers and trainers to the locals.
After helping them defeat their most hated enemy, one of the men (Danny) is treated as a god, a reincarnation of Sikander (Alexander the Great) by monks who mistake his Masonic Jewel for one worn by Alexander when he passed through the land centuries earlier. He's treated to treasures which once belonged to Alexander.
Then, he loses touch with reality and develops delusions of grandeur. By chance his intended bride, fearful of being wed to a god, punctures the myth by biting him and making him bleed. Since gods don't bleed, the Kafiristan denizens realize he is human and, angry at being misled, kill him.
I think we've reached a similar turning point in this presidency where (a) Obama's (and Michelle's) delusions of grandeur have become objects of ridicule; b) Obama's feet of clay are obvious. He may be the only person left in Washington who has not yet realized how inadequate he is to the tasks before him; (c) the people and the press are beginning to turn on him, and as his failures become even more obvious with each passing day, more people will feel free to attack him and his policies and their attacks will become ever more savage as the gap between the promise and reality grow ever more stark.
Obama entered office on a groundswell of a disconcerting mania, a mania in which voters imagined on this blank slate of a candidate all sorts of truly fantastic abilities and policies, none of which were warranted in his paltry, truly shabby history.
The man with no available school records, for example, was painted as a genius and his brief time as a University of Chicago adjunct (basically teaching assistant) puffed up to a professorship in constitutional law. The guy who cannot speak a logical, coherent, grammatical sentence on his own was pawned off as a literary genius to unsuspecting, foolish voters. It was inevitable that the reality of his time in office could never match the dream. It was unfortunately equally inevitable that he would prove inadequate to the difficult job of the presidency.
Still, which of those who voted for him could have envisioned the hash he's made of things in every respect? Unemployment far exceeds what he warned it would reach if we didn't pass his stimulus package; the housing market shows no sign of lift off; the dollar sinks more each day; manufacturing is at a virtual standstill, and Americans grow more pessimistic about the economy each day. The landmark legislation of his first (and I hope final) term, ObamaCare, is so badly conceived and drafted that Americans are likely to see the best medical service in the world destroyed unless it is soon repealed or ruled unconstitutional. In the meantime, as uncertainty about its future grows, more and more businesses are paralyzed and unable to plan for their futures.
Internationally, we keep alienating our allies and boosting our enemies. Like the Duke of York* in the nursery school rhyme, he had "10,000 men marched them up the hill and then marched them down again." He ordered a surge in Afghanistan, the place he argued in 2008 we really should be instead of Iraq, and then order pulling them out before the job is done, and in a manner sure to increase the danger to them. Without Congressional authorization, he's committed our troops and weaponry to a rather pointless fight in Libya; pushed Mubarak out of office in favor of heaven knows what successors; failed to do a thing to prevent Iran from going nuclear; done nothing to stop Syria's Assad from daily slaughtering his own people; and each and every day puts the life and welfare of our staunch ally Israel at risk.
This week's press conference revealed him as a man desperately clinging to the same rhetorical devices that have long worn thin: demagogic false choices, class warfare and a preposterous description of himself as the reasonable adult in the legislative process.
Fill in the blanks here, for this is the same speech we have been hearing for his entire term:
Republican leaders need to ask their constituents if they are willing to sacrifice the [ health, safety, welfare, future ]of their children for [you name it].
As William Jacobson writes:
This was typical throughout the press conference. He's the only reasonable one, the only one who cares about people, the only one trying hard to reach a "balanced" debt deal, and so on and so on, the facts be damned. Of course, if it seems to some that he's been detached, it's only because he's been so busy working on the Taliban, and bin Laden, and the Greece crisis.He had the audacity to say with a straight face that his administration is trying to remove burdensome regulations, when in fact Obamacare and Dodd-Frank alone impose vast regulations (most of which have not been written yet, which freezes business investment) on virtually every area of the economy.Not only does he not get it, he is ideologically incapable of getting it. He views the economy as a zero sum game, a point I have made before.This reminds me of the failed luxury tax on yachts years ago, which devastated the shipbuilding industry in Rhode Island, leading to substantial layoffs; the choice was not between yacht owners and children, but between job creating industries or not.
The thumbs down on the address was rather universal, from National Review's Yuval Levin to Time's editor Mark Halperin.
It all had the feel of a childish tantrum by a person who desperately wishes he were living in a different reality - one in which he is the heroic man of action and his opponents are irresponsible and weak. But the fact is, the president and congressional Democrats have so far utterly failed to offer any path out of our fiscal problems - problems that they have greatly exacerbated. The president proposed a budget in February that would have increased the deficit, and then he retracted it in April and proposed nothing in particular in its place. Senate Democrats have not proposed a budget in two years; they now suggest they finally have one, though apparently it won't really be brought to a vote. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed a specific path out of our fiscal mess - averting a debt crisis and setting the budget on a course toward balance through discretionary cuts, budget-process reforms, and gradual but significant entitlement reforms. Rather than negotiate over that budget, the president has chosen to play the demagogue, simultaneously insisting that the budget offers nothing and that it goes too far in cutting government services (medical research, food inspectors, and the weather service are apparently in particular danger, he said yesterday, providing a kind of Salvador Dali map of postmodern lifestyle liberalism).
Halperin was more succinct. Wanting his Morning Joe hosts to hear his honest assessment but hoping it would be bleeped out to lesser mortals, he indicated he thought the president sounded like a "dick."
I am starting to feel more and more optimistic that voters are catching on. Drudge's post speech headers signal that Obama's days as a not to be questioned or criticized or laughed at god are over and his days as president numbered:
He has no new economic message and we all know now that the old message of throwing trillions out the window or dreaming of a green revolution that would magically employ the out of work Americans was and is a sophomoric luftmensch dream.
His fundraising takes up more and more of his time and seems to be less and less productive. At last count the idiotic lottery to have lunch with him, Vice President Biden, the White House chef and anyone else not gadding about the world on taxpayer paid vacations was reduced from $5 to $3 a pop.
The "economy" proving to be a loser Obama message, his advisers cast about and appear likely to fall back on an already shopworn mediscarecampaign.
James Taranto, as usual, sums it up elegantly, explaining why thinks this is not much of a winning strategy either .
"Fear of the unknown can be powerful, but sometimes so can fear of the known."
*The original ditty on which this rhyme was based featured the King of France, and 40,000 mean, a number much closer to Obama's Afghanistant surge. From Wikipedia:
The lyrics were not printed in their modern form until relatively recently, in Arthur Rackham's Mother Goose in 1913. Prior to that a number of alternatives have been found including a note that in Warwickshire in 1892 the song was sung of both the Duke of York and the King of France; from 1894 that it was sung of Napoleon. The oldest version of the song that survives is from 1642, under the title 'Old Tarlton's song', attributed to the stage clown Richard Tarlton (1530-1588) with the lyrics:
The King of France with forty thousand men,
Came up a hill and so came downe againe.