Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The 'Real' Obama

William Voegeli, contributing editor for the Claremont Review of Books and author of Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State, has written an interesting essay ostensibly on the Tea Party movement. It's somewhat all over the map, veering often from that theme then coming back, but it contains many interesting thoughts.

One of the side alleys was this:
The question, again, is whether candidate Obama was dim-witted or cold-blooded. Did he really not understand— was there no economist on his campaign staff to help him understand— that all the expensive new things he promised government would do could not possibly be reconciled to his promises to exempt 97% of the population from any new tax increases?

Or was he agnostic all along about his solemn promises, winking in the mirror and chuckling before going out to intone them to the crowds of supporters who stood, cheered, and wept as they beheld, at last, a politician personifying change they could believe in?
Isn't it interesting that three years after Obama's introduction to the public at large, people are still pondering this question? No doubt, that's a tribute to his skills as a politician. However, that hurrah is akin to praising the talent of a superb hit man: one can stand in awe of the ability, but still condemn the actor.

In any case, it occurred to me that there is a way to resolve this question, by asserting both conclusions. It sounds paradoxical but there's a ready resolution to the dilemma: the nearly ever-present modern-day phenomena of what Rand called "the blank out."

Call it rationalization, call it denial, or what you will. It comes down to much the same thing. Many people can say one thing, 'honestly' believe it for a moment, then say the exact opposite and embrace it with equal fervor. I put 'honest' in scare quotes because this is not the mental habit of a person committed to awareness of reality, the basic feature of genuine honesty. At some level, the person knows they're not facing facts, hence the need for rationalization in the first place.

Sadly, this habit is not confined to Progressives, though they practice it with exceptional eagerness. The overwhelming majority of everyone I observe is chin deep in this practice, in former days confined to a much smaller group and indulged in much less often, or at least on less important matters.

That bit of misanthropy aside, it is one of the foremost features of the current occupant of the Oval Office and it's no surprise. Massive evasion is a must when someone as inappropriately arrogant, thoroughly inept, and fully post-modern as Obama has to deal with real problems. The practical problems his job calls for only serve to call forth more, and more glaring, occasions for it.

Just a hypothesis, of course, but it would go far to explain the puzzle that still puzzles many about the man who was supposed to be so different. Turns out, he's pretty ordinary after all, only more so.

1 comment:

VH said...

Although I despise him, I have to give credit where it is due--Obama is a master of rhetorical language and is very good at conjuring emotional images of what he is trying to sell: ObamaCare or bashing the free-market, for example. This all makes Obama very dangerous an adept politician.