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Who Does He Think He Is?

Charles Krauthammer, on Senator Obama's overinflated self regard:

Who is Obama representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush 41 -- who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap -- called "a Europe whole and free"?

Does Obama not see the incongruity? It's as if a German pol took a campaign trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a campaign speech. (The Germans have now gently nudged Obama into looking at other venues.)

Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work I a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history -- "generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment" -- when, among other wonders, "the rise of the oceans began to slow." As economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, "Moses made the waters recede, but he had help." Obama apparently works alone.

I suspect that the American people are going to get pretty tired of this as it goes on for another three months, and not be looking forward to four years of it.


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Carl Pham wrote:

Much as it pains me, I suspect you suspect wrong, Rand. Fascistic national moods produce Leaders (and candidates for same) with clinically pathological levels of grandiosity.

Besides, among his own hard-core support, e.g. Ivy League college students and professors of Urban Studies, who are the most narcissistic generation since the Boomers, I don't think Obama's narcissism noticeably sticks out. Probably just seems like healthy self-esteem. You're just an old square, my friend.

Leland wrote:

among his own hard-core support, e.g. Ivy League college students and professors of Urban Studies, who are the most narcissistic generation since the Boomers, I don't think Obama's narcissism noticeably sticks out.

For those who know the significance of Brandenburg Gate, I think Carl is right on. The rest of Obama's supporters are more worried about what he's going to give them to even care about Germany, much less historically significant venue.

When I heard the news brief this morning about his trip, the story was "no word yet on if he'll give a speech at Brandenburg Gate." Read as if it was his decision.

Leakly Facuet wrote:

About the only job I can think of that Obama is well suited for is "Daytime Talkshow Host."

J Milam wrote:

Leland is exactly right. "Ivy League college students and professors of Urban Studies" are educated enough to know just how significant the Brandenburg Gate is and I suspect they're inwardly cringing at Obama's pomposity.

Ryan E wrote:

I hope that enough Americans do tire of Obama before November... though I fear it will be too little, too late - especially with a less than stellar Republican alternative. The media love affair with Obama sure doesn't help either.

Even my own mother (who's in her mid 60s) has disappointed me this election season... she's always been a solid conservative in most respects, but has somehow fallen under the spell of Obama. And nothing has changed her mind.

My father jumped on the Obamawagon right away, but I wasn't surprised in that case, as he still thinks Carter was the best President we've had in modern times.

*sigh* and I thought the days of being embarrassed by my parents had ended long ago

OnYx wrote:

Who is Obama representing?

Americans, and human beings in general. McCain must be representing something else.

"Iraq PM Supports Obama's Withdrawal Plan"

"Majority of Americans agree with Obama's Iran approach"

"More American Voters Say Gas Tax 'Holiday' Is Bad Idea"

"Most Americans Oppose Torture Techniques"

"World Citizens Reject Torture, BBC Global Poll Reveals"

"Americans Prioritize the Economy Over Terrorism"

"90% of Americans Will Pay Less Income Tax Under Obama Than McCain."

Friendly message from OnYx,
Your smiley hit-and-run morale officer.

Rand Simberg wrote:

"Who is Obama representing?"

Americans, and human beings in general. McCain must be representing something else.

Have you ever had a course in logic? Or argumentation?

If so, you should ask for your money back.

Carl Pham wrote:

Sigh...somebody's gotta do the goes, OnYx, taking your points derived, interestingly enough, entirely from left and far-left news and analysis sites:

(1) Why is it relevant that Iraqi PM Maliki says he wants American troops gone "as soon as possible" and says Obama is "right to talk about a 16-month timeframe?" You imply that some other person (McCain I guess) would want American troops in Iraq longer than absolutely necessary. What for? Who would suggest such a silly thing? This is a straw man if ever there was one.

The debate, as I'm sure you know, is about when and under what conditions the troops will be withdrawn. Obama says the war is a lost cause, always was, always will be, and he wants the troops home right now under any conditions whatsoever, even if they have to run home with their tails between their legs, giving up every achievement and leaving the Iraqis to a civil war bloodbath. (Admittedly, he presently looks to be in a furious re-invention of himself to move away from that attitude, now that it's obvious the war can be won, like the good little opportunistic amoral empty suit he is.)

On the other hand, McCain, too, wants the troops home as soon as possible. So does George Bush. But what they define as the correct conditions are that the Iraqis can defend themselves and monsters like al-Qaeda in Iraq are squashed. I would take a guess that Maliki agrees with that -- that he does not want American troops gone even if that means a bloodbath in his country, like Obama says (or used to). Where Maliki and Bush (or even McCain) may disagree is on exactly how fast the war is being wrapped up right now, and whether, indeed, all the Americans can come home in 16 months or 24 or 30 or whatever. Does this matter? Uh, no. Minor details like whether it's 16 months or 24 will be negotiated between Iraq and the US. But negotiating the timetable for the withdrawal of a successful military mission, now that success is on the horizon, is a million miles from giving up and bugging out, like Saigon in 1975, which is what your guy has consistently stood for over the last 6 years.

(2) The CNN Politics headline ("Majority of Americans Agree with Obama's Iran Approach") is a flat lie. What the poll actually said is that a majority of Americans think it would be a good idea for the President to meet with the President of Iran. Uh, so? What's new here? When has anyone said it is a priori a bad idea to meet with a foreign leader? Do you recall George Bush or John McCain ever saying they would never meet with Ahmadinejad, no matter what? No you don't! It's another straw man, by gum! Turns out Americans agree with everyone's "Iran approach" if you define "approach" vaguely enough (e.g. "seeking peace through negotiation"). Bet Americans are in favor of motherhood and applie pie, too, huh?

What's missing in the poll question (no doubt deliberately, the poll being produced by people totally in the tank for Obama) is under what conditions. You'll remember your guy's actual approach involves meeting without any conditions. Do most Americans agree with that? Or do they think Iran might have to make some concessions at a lower level first, which would be the Bush or McCain position? We don't know. The poll never asked, by some straaaaange coincidence.

(3) The headline on the gas tax is a lie, too. The actual poll found 49% opposed a gas tax holiday. Since when is 49% equal to "most"? 41% said it was a good idea, and 10% said "WTF? dunno" which is actually the most sensible response. The headline could just as easily have been Majority Of Americans Not Opposed To Gax Tax Holiday.

(4) The headline on the ABC poll on "torture" is (of course) misleading. 63% said "torture" (left unspecified) is unacceptable, but when asked about the specific interrogations techniques actually used, e.g. sleep deprivation, hooding, or loud Britney Spears music, significant majorities approve. We don't know about waterboarding, because it wasn't asked.

You probably also don't know (or have carefully forgotten) that, of the candidates for President, the one on the point over the last few years opposing "torture" of whatever form on Gitmo prisoners, et cetera has been -- John McCain, taking a stand that has pissed off his party because he believes in some principle. Can't recall your boy taking any stand on principle that pisses off his party. No balls? No principles? No time in office? You tell me.

(5) Who gives a shit what the "world" citizens believe? The reason we're all here, save the Indians, is because we or our forefathers decided being citizens of the US is a lot better than being citizens of the "world." We'd be pretty upset if the "world" followed us here and started pushing on us its principles, which have led the "world" to enjoy, even given its centuries-to-millenia headstart, a much poorer standard of living and of political liberty and economic opportunity than we have here.

(6) Americans' priority is fixing the economy? Um, great. Now you need to make the case that the way to do so is re-elect Jimmy Carter to bring back all those 1976 remedies, you know, belt-tightening, carpool lanes, 55 MPH limits, turning down the thermostat and putting on a sweater, maybe some wage and price freezes, or a fat tax hike. I wish I could say McCain's economics are much better, but they're not. Fortunately he isn't that interested in the economy, so we can hope he'll leave it the hell alone, so it can heal faster. Pretty much every Presidential action in history has lengthened previous recessions.

(7) 90% of Americans would pay less taxes, huh? Well, given that 50% of them pay no taxes at all right now, color me a bit unimpressed. What you mean therefore is that, at most, 40% would pay less taxes under Obama's than McCain's plan. Now, hmm, when you look at the actual numbers, it turns out that for almost all of them the differences between the McCain and Obama plans are trivial, e.g. $300 to $700 per year for everyone earning less than $161,000.

However, the Obama plan hugely raises the taxes on capital gains, putting a massive brake on investment and entrepreneurship (not to mention brutally screwing all of you with money in stocks for your retirement). Is a general slowdown in economic growth -- foregoing your next three pay raises -- worth getting an extra $300 in taxes this year? Only if you're an idiot.

That is, the important difference between the McCain and Obama tax plans is that McCain's would actually help the economy (remember that "priority" you quoted above?) while Obama's would trash it. Neither would change the tax bite significantly for most people who pay taxes, for the simple reason that most people who pay taxes do not pay very much of the total Federal tax bill. (Only the top few percent of taxpayers do, and, yeah, they will experience enormously different results under the two tax plans. Since that group includes all the entrepreneurs that would be starting companies, creating jobs, et cetera, that's a problem, but only if you don't have your head up your ass, and you actually realize that in a capitalistic economy it's really, really stupid to penalize the accumulation of capital. One of the sad things about the politically-correct historical treatment of FDR's presidency and the Depression is that some powerful and painful lessons about what not to do in a depression -- namely, tax capital -- which our forefathers learned through bitter experience in the 1930s have not been passed onto us, particularly -- it seems -- those of us under age 30 or so, who apparently just don't believe in the importance of concentrated wealth to an economy whose mainspring remains business entrepreneurship, and not "community organizing" or "activism" or other such fluffy nonproductivity.)

Rand Simberg wrote:

Carl, this isn't a complaint, but don't you think that if you're going to spend this much time fisking folks, you should get your own blog, to which we could link?

Leland wrote:


You could offer him a co-blogger role. You talked before about adding some more help besides Sam. Carl certainly does a good job.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 18, 2008 10:21 AM.

Don't You Just Hate It was the previous entry in this blog.

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