Streetwise Professor

September 1, 2010

Barack Obama: Making the Dirt Fly

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 10:44 pm

Obama’s recent interview with Brian Williams contained a couple of doozies.

The first was his response to a question about Glenn Beck:

I — I do think that it’s important for us to recognize that right now, the country’s going through a very difficult time, as a consequence of years of neglect in a whole range of areas. Our schools not working the way they need to, so we’ve slipped in terms of the number of college graduates, you know?

A financial system that was not, you know, operating in a way that maintained integrity and assured that the people who were investing or who were buying a home or were using a credit card weren’t getting in some way cheated. We had a health care system that was broken and that was bankrupting families and businesses. All those issues are big, tough, difficult issues. And those are just our domestic issues. That’s before we get to policy issues in two wars. And a continuing battle against terrorists who want to do us harm.

So, given all those anxieties — and given the fact that, you know, in none of these situations are you going to be fix things overnight. It’s not surprising that somebody like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of the country. [Emphasis added.]

This is just a variation on the “anxious bitter clingers” theme.  Moreover, it ain’t him, Obama is saying: it’s the anxious times in the country.

But even on a superficial level it makes no sense.  Glenn Beck was around on election night, 2008.  He was trying to “stir up” stuff back then.  Didn’t work, obviously.

Moreover, Obama has also claimed that since his election (a) he has put the country back on the track to a healthy economy, indeed bringing it back from the brink of utter collapse, (b) fixed the health care system, and (c) fixed the financial system, including provisions that he claims will make people less vulnerable to mortgage and credit card scams.  He also took credit–just last night–for ending one of the two wars he speaks of, and putting the other on a trajectory to an American exit.   So, according to Obama, he is putting the country firmly on the path to prosperity and peace.

So, if you believe Obama’s pitch, all of the factors he lists as the sources of discontent in the country should have gotten better since he was elected, and it should be harder for Glenn Beck to stir people up today than in months past.  But it is clear that discontent has risen dramatically since Obama was elected; Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin couldn’t have attracted a fraction of the crowd they did on Saturday in November, 2008 or even in August of 2009.

Obama’s explanation of the Beck phenomenon is therefore clearly false; or at least, it is impossible to square with his statements about his accomplishments.  And the most plausible explanation–that this and myriad other political developments are a reaction to, no a reaction against, Obama–is something that he just cannot face.  (And I should say that Beck is riding the wave–he didn’t create it by any means.)

The other doozy relates to a peripheral–or, perhaps more accurately, fringe–issue, but one that is telling in its own way:

Well, look, Brian, I — I would say that I can’t spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.

Well, look, Barack.  Nobody is asking you to spend “all your time”  with your birth certificate plastered on your big old forehead.  That argument is another soldier in your army of straw men.   Some people are asking you to just, you know, show it.  Like once.  One look would be enough.  Then everybody would be satisfied.  It should take about 10 seconds of your time to authorize the release of the certificate.  Then nobody would hound you about your citizenship ever, ever again.  You would presumably be happier not being slandered by ignorant boobs.  Indeed, you would prove that those questioning your birthplace indeed have hyperactive–and arguably paranoid–imaginations.  Seems like a winner for you.

Adamant disclosure.  I am not a birther.  I believe that Obama’s coyness about his birth certificate is an Alinskyite gambit, intended to get a certain excitable portion of the population, uhm, stirred up, and embarked on a snipe hunt.  By so doing, he discredits them and allows him to paint his opposition as a whole as unbalanced.  It also allows him to play the victim–which he does in this interview–presumably to attract sympathy.

Very clever.  But hardly presidential.  It is cynical and manipulative and divisive, and contributes to the poisonous political atmosphere.  It distracts attention from the real issues he claims to be so serious about addressing.  There is no honorable reason not to release it.

This interview gives an idea as to why Obama has transformed from political messiah to political leper.  He insults vast swathes of the electorate, insinuating that they are conspiracy theorists, and so stupid and emotionally damaged that they are prey to being stirred up by exploitive demagogues (as he paints Beck).  He fails to confront the real reasons for his unpopularity in an honest way.  He advances wildly inconsistent theories–he’s clearly making things better but everybody thinks that they’re worse.  He plays low political games.

He needs to remember the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.  But instead, he’s just redoubling his shoveling.  And in so doing, he is digging his political grave.

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6 Comments »

  1. Some people are asking you to just, you know, show it. Like once. One look would be enough. Then everybody would be satisfied. It should take about 10 seconds of your time to authorize the release of the certificate. Then nobody would hound you about your citizenship ever, ever again.

    To the contrary, first, it would be appeasement of bigotry and xenophobia, and its (further) legitimization in US politics. Second, are you insane? – The birthers are a quasi-religious cult, impervious to logic and common decency. They’d just say the certificate is a forgery and carry on as before.

    Very clever. But hardly presidential. It is cynical and manipulative and divisive, and contributes to the poisonous political atmosphere.

    It is very Presidential. Those Koch-funded freaks deserve to have Obama put his foot down on them.

    This interview gives an idea as to why Obama has transformed from political messiah to political leper. He insults vast swathes of the electorate, insinuating that they are conspiracy theorists, and so stupid and emotionally damaged that they are prey to being stirred up by exploitive demagogues (as he paints Beck).

    They’re not all those things?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 2, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  2. What to expect if Tea Party wins:

    1. The Right to Life is a Constitutional right, therefore innocent human beings should have legal protection from conception until natural death.
    2. The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose … the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.
    4. Children should not be placed into foster homes where the parents are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.
    10. …all same sex partners should be banned from combat duty in the military because of the propensity to transmit blood-borne diseases in the theatre of battle.
    13. just for SWP: …I believe that we need to protect our economic borders in order to ensure free and fair trade. Tariffs should be used to stop the wealth and jobs of Americans from leaving her borders.

    The Tea Party is America’s Taleban.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 2, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  3. The Tea Party is America’s Taleban.

    I assume you omitted the Tea Party’s policies on stoning adulterers, throwing homosexuals of buildings, and throwing acid in the faces of woman who refuse to wear the burkha for space reasons.

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 2, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  4. Of course, Sublime Oblivion would rather see Gulags, political repression, mass murder, and deportations of ethnic groups and all the things that Russia is famous for.

    Personally I am uncomfortable with abortion except in cases where the girl was raped, or there is a health risk to the mother. If you don’t want kids use a rubber.

    “Getting rid” of a baby is still getting rid of a human being, one that is incapable of defending itself one might add.

    Of course, you being a russophile I doubt you hold human life and the rights of the child to be of any value.

    Comment by Andrew — September 3, 2010 @ 2:46 am

  5. S/O–so trite, so hackneyed–and so wrong. Or would that be S/O wrong? (But I repeat myself.) Can’t you do better than defrost Ted Kennedy’s “In Robert Bork’s America” diatribe?

    In point of fact, social issues have virtually zero resonance in the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party crowd is motivated primarily by economic issues, and the belief that government has become far too intrusive: they are not looking for reasons for government to intrude into our lives. Demographically, the movement is dominated by baby boomers who are not, by and large, social conservatives. Of course there are social conservatives involved, but the movement would splinter in an instant if they attempted to use the movement to advance their agenda. That’s why it does not pose the threats you raise.

    Indeed, the kinds of scare stories that you are flogging are the equivalent of Red Scares peddled by Reds (of which you, on many occasions, have admitted to being).

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 3, 2010 @ 7:32 am

  6. Moreover, it ain’t him, Obama is saying: it’s the anxious times in the country.

    Really? Why would he say that?! What a moron. Our economy has been blooming since 2008. The unemployment is lower than it was at the height of the Great Depression. The economy collapse will not happen for a few more months. The consumer confidence may be at the all-time low, but it is not nearly as low as it will be next year. So who in America is anxious?

    It is the times like this that we all wish that stupid Democrats like Clinton (with his sub-180 IQ) and Obama were replaced by Republican geniuses like Bush Jr with IQ over 90 (exactly half of Clinton’s, BTW).

    Comment by Laszlo Tooth Jr. — September 4, 2010 @ 2:56 am

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