Friday, June 18, 2010

the clear and far more important sense in which Obama is a "foreigner"

From Dorothy Rabinowitz in the WSJ...

The deepening notes of disenchantment with Barack Obama now issuing from commentators across the political spectrum were predictable. So, too, were the charges from some of the president's earliest enthusiasts about his failure to reflect a powerful sense of urgency about the oil spill.

There should have been nothing puzzling about his response to anyone who has paid even modest critical attention to Mr. Obama's pronouncements. For it was clear from the first that this president—single-minded, ever-visible, confident in his program for a reformed America saved from darkness by his arrival—was wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans' leader, a man of them, for them, the nation's voice and champion....

Those qualities...were never about rhetoric...They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance...

A great part of America now understands that this president's sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind....

It is a White House that has focused consistently on the sensitivities of the world community—as it is euphemistically known—a body of which the president of the United States frequently appears to view himself as a representative at large...

4 Comments:

At June 20, 2010 at 8:29 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At June 20, 2010 at 9:19 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

Rabinowitz is being disingenuous here. She offers as evidence that Obama is not a leader the fact that he removed the Churchill bust from the Oval Office. But she neglects to mention that he replaced that bust by a bust of Abraham Lincoln.

However, even progressives are concerned about Obama's lack of leadership, as evidenced by this morning's column by Frank Rich. When I read Rich's comments about Obama's comparison of the Gulf disaster to 9/11, I couldn't help but think of another hapless Democratic president: Jimmy Carter, who wore a sweater to give a speech likening the energy crisis to the "moral equivalent of war." Energy industry people refer to the speech as the "meow" speech.

 
At June 20, 2010 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Thanks for that clarification.

I agree; that's disingenuous on that point and brings the rest of her stuff into question. But re-reading the rest of it, I think the merit of her larger arguments still stands.

As an aside, did you catch Pam Platt's fawning ode to Jimmy Carter in the C-J today? I'll get to that tomorrow! ;-)

 
At June 20, 2010 at 2:07 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

I hadn't seen the Platt piece—thanks. I suppose I'll add something to the thread when you've commented on it. But I was struck by her observation that 30 years after Carter's administration, the Middle East and energy remain at the center of our problems.

 

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