Barry MacDonald - Editorial
The Amateur, Barack Obama in the White House, by Edward Klein. Regnery Publishing, Inc., pp. 277, ISBN 978-1-59698-785-2, $27.95.
Americans still believes in heroes. If we didn't Barack Obama would never have been elected president.
Paul Bunyan and John Henry reflected our need for effort and great strength while the American frontier was a vital force in our collective conscience. Babe Ruth's was a rags-to-riches story, showing how anyone with enough talent could make it big in America; and everyone was attracted to the Babe's good-natured, devil-may-care ways.
Americans have been digesting too many awful narratives about America for too long. Since before the Vietnam War our moviemakers, entertainers, publishers, and artists have made a fashion out of tearing down America. In their eyes we are warmongers, polluters, oppressors, thieves, liars, bigots, racists, blah blah. And they beguile us with hidden and overt messages constantly.
Our heroes used to rise from the grassroots, from the countryside or cities where people were close to a fight for survival. Now our heroes are bestowed upon us by political operatives and movie, T.V., news, and entertainment studios - and the messages imparted are usually corrosive of any pride we would take in being Americans. There is a cheap and inauthentic air about these manufactured from above heroes.
We have lost a sense of being a joyous part of the vast adventure of living in a great and growing nation. And we have lost pride in being a free people.
Obama's campaign manager, David Alexrod created a masterful myth about Obama. Obama was appointed to redeem America. Because his mother was white and his father was black he would heal our racial divisions. Because he was a politician unlike any other he could rescue us from economic, class, and political divisions. Listen to Obama's words and see whether he or Paul Bunyan looms larger:
I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
Are you kidding me? Is he talking about himself? Who does he think he is?
He believes he is the American Messiah. But the nature of this American hero is new. He is not an individual who raised himself up through hardship wresting happiness from life (usually the end of the story) - reflecting a common American aspiration. He was born heroic, who at the moment of his election, would reach down to rescue America. His purpose is to dispense government blessings to a nation of helpless wretches. The ego is nauseating. The ego should be nauseating to free-born Americans.
To Obama the myth is real; he does believe he is an epic hero. And why shouldn't he, as Edward Klein, in his book, The Amateur, records the fawning praise heaped upon him. Micah Tillman, a lecturer in philosophy at the Catholic University of America: "Barack Obama is the Platonic philosopher king we've been looking for the past 2,4000 years." MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "This is bigger than Kennedy, [Obama] comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament." Newsweek editor Evan Thomas:
In a way Obama is standing above the country, above the world. He's sort of God. He's going to bring all the different sides together.
Film director Spike Lee: "You'll have to measure time by 'before Obama' and 'after Obama' . . . Everything's going to be affected by this seismic change in the universe."
What does Obama think about America? Edward Klein writes that Obama is "in revolt against the values of the society he was elected to lead." Could Barack Obama have attended Trinity United Church of Christ for twenty years, and not have absorbed the words of Reverend Jeremiah Wright?
Fact number one: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college. . . . Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run! . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional KILLLERS. . . .We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!
These words are knives meant to kill American culture. They inspire hatred, and a desire to destroy. There is no compromise with this depiction of evil. This is the language of warfare - encapsulating leftist loathing of America. This atmosphere sustained and nourished Barack Obama over twenty years.
Edward Klein believes Obama is "temperamentally unsuited" to be commander in chief and chief executive; is "inept" at management and governance; doesn't learn from his mistakes; repeats policies that weaken the economy and national security; blames his difficulty on those who disagree with him; discards friends and supporters who are no longer useful; complains constantly about what people say of him; does not enjoy the "cut and thrust of politics" but "clings to the narcissistic life" of the presidency. Klein quotes an old Chicago acquaintance: Obama has "delusions of grandeur," and is
. . . afflicted with megalomania. How else can you explain the chutzpah of an obscure community organizer who began writing his autobiography before he was thirty years old?
Klein quotes Robert Dallek, historian and author of Hail to the Chief:
Barack Obama has been unable to earn the trust of his countrymen because he is, at heart, predominantly concerned with his own thoughts and ideas and feelings rather than the thoughts and ideas and feelings of the people he was elected to serve. He believes that he was chosen as president to save a wayward America from its dependency on free-market capitalism. This has led him to push clumsy and unpopular far-left policies - universal healthcare, Wall Street bailouts, cap and trade, green jobs, and renewable energy - at the expense of rational policies aimed at putting America back to work.
A top aid to the Republican House leadership told Klein:
Not only is [Obama] self-assured, the smartest guy in the room, but in his estimation all he has to do is state something and the scales will fall from your eyes. Despite the storyline people create, that he is a thoughtful, non-ideological compromiser, he has a distinct leftist ideology and can't make a decision that takes him out of his comfort zone.
If you challenge him, he's furious. He gives you the death stare. He has no close relationship with any member of the Senate. And certainly not in the House.
All this goes back to the fact that Obama is a leftist. He doesn't understand that the way to make this town work, both sides have to get up from the table thinking that they've won something. This White House is incapable of doing that.
Obama's conduct has even frayed relations with black Democrat members of Congress. During an incident in 2010 Shirley Sherrod, a black Georgia state director of rural development of the Department of Agriculture, was forced to resign by the Obama White House. Andrew Breitbart, the late conservative blogger, selectively edited a speech Sherrod gave to the NAACP. Breitbart made it appear that Sherrod had refused to help a white farmer who asked for help, because he was white. Breitbart portrayed her as a black racist when the complete tape showed that she had worked hard to save the white farmer's land.
Black elites came quickly to the defense of Shirley Sherrod. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina said "I don't think a single black person was consulted before Shirley Sherrod was fired - I mean, c'mon." Eleanor Holmes Norton, representative from District of Columbia said:
The president needs some advisers or friends who have a greater sense of the pulse of the African-American community, or who at least have been around the mulberry bush.
Obama spoke to Shirley Sherrod for a "grudging seven minutes" on the phone, said he thought the incident had been blown out of proportion, but refused to apologize for her humiliation. He offered her another job in the Agriculture Department but she declined politely.
Complaints from the Congressional Black Caucus about the president's conduct escalated after the Sherrod incident. The Black Caucus warned the president that blacks were frustrated by inaction over black unemployment which is more than double the national average, and is as high as 40 percent in cities such as Chicago and Detroit. Stung by the criticism Obama told attendees at a speech to the Black Caucus, "Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes." . . . "Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying!" Maxine Waters, representative from California responded "I've never owned a pair of bedroom slippers."
The president's choice of advisers reveals much about how he wants to communicate. An adviser is an extension of the president's personality. In Valerie Jarrett, who is black, president Obama's has chosen a shield and a sword, keeping out people with differing perceptions, resulting in strained relations and isolation.
Klein writes that everyone he has interviewed, Republicans and Democrats, African-Americans and Jews, all complained that Valerie Jarrett has kept him apart from those whose good opinions he needed. He quotes a former high-ranking member of the White House staff of Jarrett's influence:
There is a tremendous amount of jockeying in the White House under Barack Obama, people hoping to push other people out of their positions, fights over stupid stuff. . . In all this Valerie Jarrett is both the arsonist and the fire-fighter. . . . She has been able to spread her tentacles into every nook and cranny of the executive branch of government. She creates problems so she can say to the president and first lady, "I would do anything for you; I would put everything at risk to show you how trustworthy I am.". . .
Valerie creates fear. She keeps the Obamas off-balance and keeps them coming back to her. She makes sure that a lot of other people don't have access. She keeps old friends and supporters away. If she can't control you - what you're going to say to the president and first lady, the issues you're going to push - then you're not going to get in.
Jews are loyal voters for Democrats, and are a weighty source of campaign donations. Yet Obama's relations with American Jews are strained, due to his rough treatment of the government of Israel. Robert Lieber, professor of government at Georgetown University said:
The problem is naivete in the Obama administration. . . . The president came into office with the assumption that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is by far the most central urgent problem in the region - which it is not - and that it is the key that unlocks everything else in the region. And he and his advisers believed the [Israeli-Palestinian] situation was ripe for progress, which it absolutely isn't
Richard Z. Chesnoff, a veteran journalist with more than forty years of experience reporting from the Middle East believes the problem is not his advisers but rather
. . . from his one-man style and his inflated view of his own leadership talents. Obama believes that no matter what the odds against it, he can bring everyone together, kumbaya style, so that we can solve hitherto insoluble problems. Perhaps even more egregiously, he seems to have an exaggerated sense of his own depth of understanding of the Middle East, which is simply not borne out by his background or experience.
In May 2010 the president found himself under heavy pressure to meet with the Jewish members of the Democratic caucuses of the House and Senate. Obama said:
There are legitimate differences between the United States and Israel and [between] me and Prime Minister [Netanyahu]. . . . Everyone knows two states is the only solution. I can't impose a settlement but I may outline a solution for the parties. Our public disagreement with Israel gives us credibility with the Arab states and compels them to act.
What upset the Jewish members of Congress were his last words: by publicly upbraiding Israel, by portraying Israel as the "villain," the Obama administration gained credibility and influence with the Arabs. No one attending believed that, in fact, the members thought the feuding between Washington and Israel encouraged the Arabs to be more intransigent: why should the Palestinians make concessions while Israel was receiving all the pressure? Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois (one of Obama's supporters) said: "He doesn't understand that ally-to-ally differences should not be aired in public. He's isolating Israel and putting Israel in a weakened position."
Obama's attitudes about America are revealed in how he handles America's relations with the world.
Traditionally American interests determined foreign policy. America led, America acted, to promote American interests and the interests of our allies who are fellow democracies. American power was considered a force for good in the world. American presidents cherished, and vigorously defended, American sovereignty, by preserving the ability of use our forces independently to protect the American people.
Robert Kagan, foreign policy commentator at the Brookings Institution and author of The World America Made, writes:
International Order is not an evolution, it is an imposition. . . . It is the domination of one vision over others - in America's case, the domination of free-market and democratic principles, together with an international system that supports them. The present system will last only as long as those who favor it retain the will and capacity to defend it.
Obama does not believe that America has been a force for good in the world. American power has done more harm than good. In Obama's view global interests and international law should dominate American policy and American courts. The U.S. should hesitate to act without the blessings of the "world community. And America is obligated to extend an olive branch to every nation, including belligerents such as Iran and North Korea.
A central Obama's adviser is Samantha Power, a "glamorous" Harvard professor with a "mane of lustrous red hair," who hobnobs with Hollywood stars and liberal celebrities. Powers has been explicit in her views:
U.S. foreign policy has to be rethought. . . . Instituting a doctrine of mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. When [then German Chancellor Willy Brandt] went down on one knee in the Warsaw ghetto, his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany. Would such an approach be futile for the United States?
She is equating America's conduct with Nazi Germany's.
Obama's posture, "down on one knee," seeking pardon for American aggression, emerged in his speech to Arabs in Cairo. He blamed Western colonialism for denying rights and opportunities to Muslims (not the brutal behavior of Arab dictators - the Ottoman Empire ruled the Muslim world for 600 years). He blamed Americans who "view Islam as inevitably hostile . . . to human rights" (not mentioning Sharia law's brutal treatment of women). He confessed that the 9/11 attacks and George Bush's response ". . . led us to act contrary to our ideals." He said that America would no longer be a swaggering power, because "any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."
Obama has implemented a diminished role for America in world affairs:
* Obama failed to give a word of support to the Iranian protestors gunned down by Iranian Mullahs in 2009.
* Obama abandoned Poland and the Czech Republic after they braved Russian threats by agreeing to install American missile-defense batteries on their soil: Obama cancelled President Bush's agreement, acquiescing to Russian demands and receiving nothing in return.
* Obama's "lead from behind" strategy during the Libyan upraising, is a one-of-a-kind rational for the deployment of U.S. armed forces.
* During Obama's tenure the Navy has been halved, and is growing smaller. The Army and Marine Corps have 600,000 fewer troops, and will soon have fewer.
Obama fails to recognize that American arms, at great cost in lives and treasure, have mitigated suffering and frustrated tyranny worldwide. Without the U.S. military the earth would be much darker.
Obama's recent words betray him. They expose an ugly condescension at odds with the American spirit:
. . . look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on you own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something - there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
America's first black president was an inspiration to many Americans, showing how far we've come in defeating racism. Barack Obama was a culmination of left-wing aspiration, the perfect hero, to enact their agenda. But now Obama's words and deeds have revealed his true character, and he is out of tune with America's ethic.
We Americans need to believe that we stand or fall due to our own intelligence and hard work. I'm betting that "generations from now" people will remember little of president Obama, while Babe Ruth will remain embedded in the American mind. *