May 01, 2011
Before the last presidential election I ran into many people I had considered reasonably well-informed and educated, only to be surprised by the extent to which they had been utterly taken in by the obviously ghostwritten Obama hagiography and the media airbrushing of his background. It was scary. A first hand view of how easily manipulated public opinion is.
I was astonished that few of these people knew anything about Obama's failures in his one prior job -- getting the asbestos out of Altgeld Gardens -- and his singular executive endeavor, managing (at terrorist Bill Ayers' recommendation) millions of dollars from the Annenberg Foundation. Nor had they any notion of the thin record in support of the claim that he was truly brilliant. It was, to be blunt, enough that he was cool, black, had a degrees from Columbia and Harvard, talked the talk, and was a blank slate upon whom they could project all their fantasies of a highly intelligent, post-racial, post-partisan leader who would just fix up everything for them. (In case you missed the story of Obama the major media hid, Bill Whittle has nicely summarized it in this video .)
A few weeks ago Attorney General Holder petulantly backed off of the preposterous notion of trying terrorists in civilian criminal trials, the hallmark of this administration's New Deal for Jihadis. The Administration's Olympic level backstroking continued this week with the President's pissy, arrogant presser in which he finally released his long form birth certificate, something his staff and allies had earlier said had been burned, or was the Certificate of Live Birth the Daily Kos had posted, or didn't exist, or was impossible to obtain even by Obama. It turned out that all he had to do was ask, and the state of Hawaii provided it to his lawyer almost instantly.
This left people asking why he'd expended so many dollars, caused the Hawaiian officials and employees so much needless work, and embarrassed Mike Isikoff ,CNN , and others in the Obama media claque who'd been busy peddling the White House spin that Obama couldn't get the document Trump and others had been demanding to see. Why did he go through so much effort to conceal, why did it take what he called "sideshows and carnival barkers" to force him to provide a document all of us must present countless times in our own lives? I think because he's an obstinate egotist determined to control all information about himself. A juvenile jerk, in other words.
The most amusing account of the presser -- and there were many -- comes from the New York Times:
People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.
Mr. Obama practically begged the public to set aside these distractions, expressing hope that his gesture would end the "silliness" and allow a national debate about budget priorities. It won't, of course."
So, per the Times, this demand that the President reveal what the rest of us must -- and what his opponent McCain did -- was "silliness" and a "distraction." The Times never mentioned that immediately after dealing with this the President did not work on the "budget priorities." Instead he flew to Chicago with Michelle to joke around on Oprah's show and then off for some more fund raising for his 2012 re-election campaign. Schmoozing with Oprah and fund raising are obviously not silly distractions where the NYT is concerned,
If you asked me, I'd say the internal polls respecting this issue and public trust of the White House must be awful and forced his revelation. And given that he and his Chicago press allies forced the unsealing of court records of two of his earlier opponents -- Jack Ryan and H. Blair Hull, with potentially harmful consequence to innocents, I regard the president's implicit claim to privacy one of particular chutzpah.
Nor should we accept his defense that he did this because the "birthers" were proving a distraction. His own allies in the press, particularly MSNBC and CNN, were the folks who kept the issue alive in an effort -- pre Trump -- to embarrass his opponents and those who questioned his bona fides for office. No putative Republican candidate could appear on any television "news" show to present his views without being forced to disavow the birthers, often at the expense of presenting his own position on the issues. (Would that the press had treated the "truthers" who claimed the Bush administration was in on the 9/11 genocide of their own countrymen with even a fraction of the disdain shown those who asked for evidence of the president's right to hold office.)
Whether you think the revelation even at this late date is a plus for Obama, proving those who questioned his constitutional eligibility for office wrong, or a minus, indicating that a blowhard like Trump was able to force the President off his narcissistic insistence that he alone should dispense to the public what he chose to of his background, the claim that those who were dubious of his eligibility were motivated by racism was uncalled for and I think the last sad play of the race card that Obama's operatives and press toadies can play unless the current batch of Republican office holders and candidates allow this game to continue unchallenged.
As James Taranto observed:
The Washington Post reports that professional attention grabber Donald Trump responded to the White House release yesterday by raising "new questions":
"The word is, according to what I've read, is that he was a terrible student when he went [to] Occidental. He then gets to Columbia. He then gets to Harvard," Trump said. "I heard at Columbia he wasn't a very good student. He then gets to Harvard. How do you get into Harvard if you're not a good student?"
Obama, a former constitutional law professor and the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, is widely recognized as an intellectual heavyweight.
As an aside, that last sentence epitomizes what drives conservatives crazy--sometimes, alas, actually crazy--about the formerly mainstream media. Obama "is widely recognized as an intellectual heavyweight"? If they said this about Woodrow Wilson or Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we'd probably agree, but even then, it's more a statement of opinion than fact.
At any rate, according to Obama supporters, Trump's rhetorical question was racist. "That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black," CBS's Bob Schieffer said. "This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing."
Politico quotes another Obama pal likewise:
"Trump and the rest have played a very divisive card from the fact of his birth to now implying that he got into two Ivy League schools . . . by affirmative action, which clearly brings race into the matter," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "It certainly enrages a lot of African-American voters, Latino voters and progressive whites that feel that this is the most divisive, polarizing tactic."
As Mickey Kaus notes, "Obama himself, while at Harvard, wrote that he had 'undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action.' " And you'd think that people who support both Obama and racial preferences would proudly cite the former as evidence of the latter's success, rather than getting defensive and angry whenever anyone even indirectly broaches the topic.
But it's the last sentence of the Sharpton quote that gives away the game. All this race talk is aimed at angering blacks and shaming whites into voting for Obama next year, whatever doubts they may have about his policies or his leadership.
Any opponent who runs against Obama and doesn't demand an end to this race baiting is a fool. I believe the voters see through it, and find it unpersuasive and needlessly divisive. They ought to call on him to insist his supporters stop it.
In fact, perhaps it's time to examine Obama's educational record and the role affirmative action played in it -- something as Mickey Kaus observes, he has admitted.
Trump has now demanded to see the transcripts of the man the Post calls an "intellectual heavyweight."
Was he the kind of heavyweight that Adlai Stevenson, who flunked out of Harvard Law School, was billed as when he ran against Dwight Eisenhower the "dummy," whose only claim to higher office was that he led the Allied troops to victory in Europe? Was he the sort of intellectual heavyweight that Al Gore and John Kerry the press touted until their records were revealed?
Ace of Spades reviews the records we do have of the "intellectual heavyweight" and it seems he probably has only a slightly above average I.Q. --probably 116. How big a thumb was on the academic scale of this part black man with the exotic life history, the sort of applicant college admission officers love? Don't doubt me on this. Your kid could take nothing but A.P. courses and ace every one of them, be the valedictorian of his class and an outstanding person in every possible way, but the admission officers at the most selective school might well pass him by for a minority kid with far worse academic achievements under his belt, particularly if his parents (unlike you) abandoned him. The exotic fillip of an African and then an Indonesian father would also help.
Of course, all the evidence is circumstantial; Valerie Jarrett says the president will not release his academic records. But the circumstantial evidence by this time has grown. Ask yourself -- better yet ask those who voted for him -- what evidence in his presidency or in the Senate can you provide of his vaunted genius?
Was it jumping into the war in Libya?
Caving in to Trump's challenge?
Leaving Pelosi and Reid in charge of ObamaCare ‘s drafting and passage?
Was it "leading from behind" as an unnamed Obama aide described of the president's saying that Gaddafi has to go and then making it clear he wouldn't do anything much to make that happen?
Was it pushing out Mubarak without consulting with our Middle Eastern allies or even knowing who would take his place?
Was it his insistence on Israel coming to peace terms with those who refuse to concede her right to exist?
Was it shoveling out trillions of dollars on "shovel ready jobs" that didn't exist?
Was it yanking out General Petraeus from the field just as the war is about to really heat up and putting him in charge of the truly ungovernable CIA?
Was it naming Leon Panetta, a hack, as his Secretary of Defense to oversee the department, which is now involved in three wars and faces the challenges of an increasingly unstable Middle East?
Is it his operating style in which he "is a consensus-seeker whose decision making style rewards polarization and a conciliator who loses friends without winning over enemies"? (source)
*** Maybe they can find what I cannot -- proof of superior intelligence. I know Dana Milbank tried. After consultation with "experts" he concludes that Obama might be too complex and rational for us:
Obama's strengths and weaknesses come from his high degree of "integrative complexity" -- his ability to keep multiple variables and trade-offs in mind simultaneously. The integratively simple thinker -- say, George W. Bush -- has one universal organizing principle that dominates all others, while the integratively complex thinker -- Obama -- balances many competing goals.
Too complex and rational is not how I'd rate him. I'd say confused, lacking executive skills and lazy. I do think, however, that the dam has been broken and we are going to continue to learn a great deal more about the President and his true background than we have to date. (see this)
On the other hand Milbank might just have written a subtle insult to the intelligence of the Post editors and readers.