Monday, January 25, 2010

The Obama conundrum: Is there a "there" there?

From Alegre's corner:
In one regard, Obama '08 was always Bill Clinton '92, an empty vessel into which everyone could pour their hopes and dreams. But more importantly, underpinning Clinton's everything-to-everyone Man from Hope was a specific campaign platform that he challenged voters to hold him accountable for - something Obama avoided like the plague.
(Added note: Bill Clinton did talk specifics in '92. He talked and talked and talked.)

From Blue Lyon:
I really wish the media would quit calling Health Care Reform Obama’s “signature policy.” It never was, and that’s why it is the mess it is. In March 2009 I wrote:
A bit of a refresher: The March 2007 SEIU Health Care Forum was an event specifically designed to address health care and provide the presidential candidates with an opportunity to unveil their plans or at least talk about what direction they would go to provide health care for all Americans. Regardless of the quality of their plans, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich and Richardson, all came prepared to discuss the issue and lay out their solutions. Except Obama. He did a “Bill and Ted.” He had no plan, no ideas, just kept talking about how he was going to get people together to talk about it.
Does this sound like someone whose “signature issue” is health care reform? No. That would have been the other candidate. Barack Obama was dragged kicking and screaming into health care reform and it shows.
That said, I must confess that Obama could have put off health care reform, using the economic catastrophe as his excuse for fighting another day. He also could have allowed single payer advocates to have a place at the table. His one good idea -- hearings on CSPAN -- never occurred.

From David Michael Green:
I have never seen a president so utterly lacking in passion. This man literally doesn't even seem to care about himself, let alone this or that policy issue. He doesn't seem to have any strong opinions on anything, a sure prescription for presidential failure.
And on health care, his signature issue, he did the same thing. "You guys write it, and I'll sign the check." Could there possibly be a greater prescription for failure than allowing a bunch of the most venal people on the planet to cobble together a 2,000 page monstrosity that entirely serves their interests and those of the people whose campaign bribes put them in office?
From Liberal Rapture:
It almost painful to watch Obama misread the country. He reads his election as a referendum on him. Still.
Obama is not smart. That needs to be repeated. Obama is not smart. He has a kind of intelligence, that's true. But he's not smart like Reagan or Clinton. He doesn't understand his job.
Actually, Obama is smarter than Reagan was. (I fondly recall Gore Vidal's joke: "I must sadly announce that the Reagan library has caught fire. Both books were lost. And he had not even finished coloring one of them.") But the question of the day is this: Is Obama wise? If the guy is simply a screw-up, then we must answer in the negative. But if he is con artist, then the question is more complex -- because a good con artist is a wise guy.

A lot of people are now saying that Obama stands for nothing. That may be unfair. In the grand, ongoing competition between guns and butter, he will soon take a solidly "no butter" stand. Apparently he will do so in order to "butter up" his right-wing opponents -- who will, of course, continue to call him a socialist.

From Firedoglake:
Breaking tonight, the President will propose a discretionary, non-security spending freeze for three years starting in FY 2011 as part of his State of the Union address.
That means no further stimulus, even though people desperately need jobs, food and housing.
But Obama is basically saying that the stimulus fixed the economy, that there will be no further government support measures and that he’ll govern like a hybrid of John McCain and Herbert Hoover for the rest of his term to curry favor with the deficit maniacs.

And of course, the truly unbelievable thing about this is how it’s framed as non-security discretionary spending, as if spending on the military is magic and somehow doesn’t affect budgets. If anything is bankrupting the country, it’s the bloated military budget, which is currently at a higher level than during the Cold War buildup of the Reagan Administration. So this freeze will do exceedingly little for the budget deficit, but is sure to hurt a lot of poor and middle-class people.
So here's the question:

When it comes to the man in the oval office, is it true that there is no "there" there?

Or is it the case that there definitely is a "there" there, but it happens to be a "there" that differs greatly from the "there" that a lot of people thought they were going to get?
" it true that there is no "there" there?"

I have long thought he was Bush III. I hoped I was wrong, but I think that is all that is there.

As I’ve said before – he’s classic clinical NPD. His choices, emotional demeanor, etc. all follow.

In a sense there is no “there” – it’s all about the image in the mirror – the appearance.

And he is, in essence a con artist. But severe NPD can interfere with reality testing. A lot of cons make dumb choices.

My guess is that he’ll continue trying to pass the existing HCR monstrosity, unless/until he finds that option utterly blocked (e.g. if it were crystal clear that the votes could never be obtained in the House). NPDs are too hypercompetitive to appropriately reassess in a situation such as this. And he wants to see himself as "historic", regardless of the consequences.

The freeze on all non-military spending will have a disastrous effect (also, note his preference for big, dramatic policies/gestures). I’m in the sciences – NSF and NIH grant funding rates are at historic lows. Many academic labs are shutting down. I don’t know how the lab I work in (now entirely out of money) will make it through.
If everyone tells you how wonderful you are, brilliant, sparkling, the "one we have been waiting for", is it so difficult to understand why you would begin to think that you are as terrific as they say?

Obama thinks of himself as a can of Febreeze. Spray him around long enough and people will be convinced he brought sunshine and freshness into the room just by his presence.

I mean, how much "real work" would you bother to do if you had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize within the first week of office? How much effort would you put into the job at hand if before you even finished everybody told you how great it was?

I see him much like the character played by Robert Morse "How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying", staring into the mirror and singing "I believe in you!"

Now that's arrogance!

See the part about discretionary spending-It's in there!
I think the teleprompters set up in the 4th grade classroom says it all. Zerobama is not as smart as a Fifth-grader, let alone as smart as either Clinton, nor is he as good an orator/actor as Reagan, who, until his dementia set in, could at least memorize his lines.
If our military were cut due to budget deficits, those the world over who see Obama as the weak president he is would take advantage of us in the worst way. Our military keeps that in check in spite of Obama
I actually think it's that second thing.
OOoo is simply not a do-er. I have to laugh when ppl call him a master talker.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Excellent cobbling of comments from different blogs.

There is somebody I really wanted to videotape a while back. They are of african american descent and their lineage included ancestors known for their heroism in Africa.

I asked what they thought of Barack Obama, and without hesitation, there was a laugh, followed by "he's a con artist", African Americans know it."

Which begs the really tough question. If some past caucasian presidents have be con artists, why not an african american? Is the bar supposed to be higher for an african american president than a caucasian president?
Jimmy Carter's IQ is 172. Bill Clinton's IQ is around 180. They each have at least 50 IQ points on Barack Obama.

What I wonder most about is the IQ of anybody who fell for Obama's act. As cons go, it wasn't even a half-decent job.

For example, they said Obama was a great orator, even though he has a marked speech impediment. (Obama whistles his s's like a teapot; it's very irritating.)

As for content, I uploaded a YouTube clip more than a year ago called "The Democrats' Answer to George W. Bush," in which I noted the impossibility of pinning Obama down on anything. He said a few things a Republican might say, but that was about it.
There's a "there" there, all right; unfortunately, that "there" happens to be a Neocon Lite Reagan Worshipper. No, Obama isn't very bright and I still don't know why everyone kept raving about his supposedly superior brainpower when it was clear that he was of average intelligence at best.

Not that you need to be a supah genius to be president, but you do need to be wily and sharp. Obama is not any of those things. He's a bought and paid for puppet for corporations and the military-industrial complex, period, and that was clear to anyone with sense from the get-go. He does not give a damn about anything that Democrats, liberals, or "progressives" care about, period. He is just not that into you, people!! He cares about getting his puppetmasters what they want and retiring to a lifetime of expensive speechmaking and book contracts.

That's all.
Zee, there are plenty of negative things to say about the man without resorting to false statements.

They weren't 4th graders, and BHO did not use the TOTUS to address them; the TOTUS was in another room, and BHO used it after he was through speaking with the **6th** graders to address the **media**.

The comparison with Clinton is instructive, and ironic. Do posters here not remember that Clinton was also 'diagnosed' as having NPD himself? (Show me your DSM IV and your professional credentials qualifying you to make such a diagnosis, and then discuss the professional ethics problem of publicly diagnosing someone you've never interviewed.)

While it's true that Clinton was a policy polymath, and therefore had a far more detailed policy prescription platform than did BHO, it's also true that he often rolled over on his own policies and wet himself with the slightest opposition.

His key campaign economic promises, to get a middle class tax cut to reward those who 'worked hard and played by the rules,' and to make critical high-tech infrastructure investments, were gone immediately after Greenspan told him the markets were vetoing them.

After forcing the House to vote out the controversial BTU tax at its significant electoral peril, he let the opposition of David Boren (D-OK) kill it in the Senate without a fight.

Clinton had his own discretionary spending freeze equivalent, between the pay-go policy he agreed against his better judgment to keep in place, and then the (very low) annual caps in growth he agreed to.

When Gingrich made up an arbitrary and short time frame of 7 years to balance the budget, even House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-OH) screamed in protest. Clinton readily agreed to it. When Gingrich insisted that the proven less accurate, lower projected growth CBO numbers be used instead of the OMB numbers, Clinton readily agreed.

Democrats were outraged at these unnecessary and unwise capitulations, whose effect was to reduce the stimulative and intelligent investment possibilities of the budget in favor of contractionary budget priorities in the face of a sluggish economy. Their effect was also to throw the Democratic Party positions under the bus to 'triangulate' (fight his own party) for his better electoral positioning. The cap to this was his unnecessary agreement to the welfare reform bill, which he knew to be so bad that he had previously vetoed it twice, but Dick Morris told him it would give him a larger re-election margin if he finally signed it.

When the Mexican tesobono bonds were about to default, with Goldman Sachs holding a fortune at risk in those instruments, Clinton failed to gain Congressional approval to underwrite the Mexican government's repayments to Goldman. Instead, despite the will of Congress to the contrary, he ponied up $50 billion on his own authority by misusing the Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund. (Which worked, btw, saving both Goldman Sachsass, and getting full repayment and about a $500 million profit for the American people.) Then Clinton opened the floodgates of unlimited corporate money as 'soft' money donations converted to 'hard' expenditures, a vastly corruptive force even if it did make the Democrats competitive in fundraising with the GOP.

Do not misunderstand my point here. Clinton did a decent job, AS IT TURNED OUT, but it was far from clear at the time these things would work out, and the odds seemed against it. Despite Clinton's high rate of fulfilling his campaign pledges, most of them good policy, he was 'flexible' on almost everything.

Gosh that brings back memories of Bill Clinton's campaign when he started to lose his voice from the policy speeches. something Obama didn't have to worry about.
XI, you have to remember that the media and the Washington elite had it in for the Clinton's from day one. They gleefully did the republican's job.
When the history of our time is written...

you can count on a "liberal" to recount how BAD BAD BAD Bill Clinton was.

The future will cast Ken Starr as a well meaning Democrat who was falsely accused of wasting money on a 7 year investigation that turned up nothing more than a cum stained dress. If only he was given more time he could have proved Bill Clinton was a drug dealer and Hillary was in fact a lesbian femme fatale.

Obama will be cast as being trapped by his own genius. (The van Gogh of politicians!!!)
MrMike, you are correct, but do not forget that on approximately day one of the presidency, Senate Minority Leader Dole announced that since 57% of the voters had voted for someone other than Clinton, he (Dole) would represent their interests by leading his party in fighting Clinton tooth and nail.

The point of my recitation was to remind the youngsters that very likely, they'd have been making the same attacks on Clinton back in the day that they now make on Obama. And deservedly so, comparing his actions and refusals to act to core Democratic Party positions. And yet he is now lionized (yes, perhaps deservedly so) as a tremendous success.

Clinton's flaws, in his personal life, in his professional indiscipline, in his halting transition and appointments processes, all compare unfavorably to Obama, who has a different set of flaws.


Krugman has lost hope

very instructive
BO was a trojan horse, designed to destroy government from within. Everything is going according to plan.
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