The “Where’s Waldo” presidency

March 7, 2011

Jack Kelly had a scathing piece at Real Clear Politics yesterday that lays bare just what an empty suit President Obama turned out to be:

“Obama’s appeal comes not from the things he says, but from who is saying them,” wrote columnist Froma Harrop during the campaign. Though mostly a fan, Ms. Harrop noted that in “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama wrote “my treatment of the issues is often partial and incomplete.” Ms. Harrop said, “It takes some doing for a politician to write a 364-page book, his second volume, and skate past all controversy.”

Being a “blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views” is a good way to be elected president … especially when the incumbent is saddled with an unpopular war and the stock market melts down two months before the election. But after two years in office, that blank screen can look more like an empty suit.

“For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president,” wrote Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus last week. She generally supports him but says “there are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action — unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful. The dots connect to form an unsettling portrait of a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ presidency.”

Kelly cites Shelby Steele’s observation that Obama’s popularity during the 2008 campaign was due to his embodiment of the nation’s racial idealism, the search for absolution for the sins of our past, and not from his policies (which were mostly identical to Hillary Clinton’s). Even Obama, as Kelly relates, has written of himself:

“I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

Kelly then goes on to recount Obama’s passivity (“voting present”) in foreign and domestic affairs, and points out how otherwise sensible people weren’t just taken in by Obama’s act, but reveled in it in a moment reminiscent of the poster in Fox Mulder’s office that read, “I want to believe.”

Not all of us fell for the pretense, of course. Some saw through him from the start, and many of us sounded the alarm. But it was of no avail; with a complicit mainstream press that acted more as a media arm of the Obama campaign than as responsible journalists in a free society, it wasn’t until almost two years after the election that we finally learned anything solid about his political beliefs and education. And by then… ?

Now we’re stuck with the man who heads arguably the worst administration in my lifetime, which is saying a lot, since I remember Carter.  And there is still over a year-and-a-half to go before we can be rid of him.

Keep your fingers crossed nothing truly bad happens and we have to ask “Where’s Waldo?” again.


There’s also the violence card

April 26, 2010

In an earlier post, I wondered if the race card was the only card left in the (Social) Democrats’ deck. The answer is “no,” as Jack Kelly reminds us in a column at Real Clear Politics. They also can and do play the “angry, violent mob” card, accusing conservative protesters of near-sedition and having a potential for terrorism:

It is a despicable smear to attempt to link critics of the tax, spending and regulatory policies of the Obama administration to [Oklahoma City bomber Timothy] McVeigh. Imagine how Mr. Clinton and Mr. Klein would howl if it were asserted that those who protested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were responsible for the shooting at Fort Hood last November which left 13 dead.

No prominent conservative has asserted that, of course. But it’s a meme among the eminences of the left that the tea party movement is comprised of “angry” knuckle-dragging bigots one Rush Limbaugh broadcast away from insurrection and murder. All this despite the fact the only violence reported at tea party rallies has come when left wingers assaulted protesters.

Kelly then recounts two incidents of left-wing violence from among the several that have happened over the past year. But, one wonders, why do the progressive-statists feel the need to smear the opposition as barely contained rioters? Kelly offers one potential answer:

What really terrifies Democrats is not just the number or size of tea party rallies, but that they are occurring at all. For more than a century, the protest demonstration has been almost exclusively a left-wing thing. Conservatives just don’t demonstrate. The tea party indicates a level of street activism on the right unprecedented in our history.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Dec. 16 indicated the tea party was more popular than either Democrats or Republicans. Respondents approved of the tea party, 41 percent to 23 percent. More disapproved of both the Republican Party (28-43) and the Democratic Party (35-45) than approved of them.

So the tea party must be smeared, lest it gain even more adherents.

I think he’s on to something, but it’s not just fear of the other side developing its own mass movement. As I wrote yesterday, the progressives realize they cannot win the argument based on policy ideas or empirical results, most of the nation rejects what they offer and hates what they’ve done. So all they have left is to try to distract moderates and independents by painting Tea Partiers and other activists concerned by what’s going on in Washington as racists on the edge of violence. For all the Left accused then-President Bush of distracting people from the real issues by playing to their fears, they themselves are doing it in spades.

Yet more and more people are on to the game they’re playing, and each time they lay down the “race” or “violence” cards, their power to intimidate shrinks just a bit more.