Sockpuppet Friday (Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas edition)
[Posted by Karl]
As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sockpuppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.
Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself.
Sockpuppet comments about the Republican primary race are strictly prohibited. If you wish to use sockpuppets for that purpose, confine your comments to this thread. Same goes for any discussion that is not funny where people want to get angry at each other. Offending comments will be summarily deleted and the violators flogged.
And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.
Jodi Kantor, who writes for rome wingnut rag called The New York Times, also wrote a book about The Obamas. NRO’s Jim Geraghty has been excerpting choice bits, including this nugget about the Sun King losing faith in his subjects:
Later in the first term, there were points where the American public seemed to be giving up on Barack Obama. But the relationship went both ways, and there were many times the president seemed to be giving up on the public, too, convinced Americans would never understand his point of view…
…Being in the White House seemed to intensify one of his best traits, his natural seriousness, along with one of his worst, his conviction that he was more serious than anyone else. There was a gap between the way Obama consumed information — in orderly, high-level briefings — and the way nearly everyone else in the country did, and it could often turn him derisive.
Geraghty then shows that at times, Obama has seemed quite incorrect in his assessment of how other Americans consume information, perhaps because Obama seems to consume his from MSNBC. Next up, the president’s trip to Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize:
But amid the bad news and pressures of late 2009, the trip unexpectedly passed like a brief, happy fantasy for the president, a Nordic alternate reality where citizens were learned and pensive, discussions were thoughtful, and everyone was a fan. “It wasn’t hero worship,” said one adviser who accompanied them. “Okay, it was.”
For one day, the Obamas lived in the dream version of his presidency instead of the depressing reality. At meals and receptions, they mingled with the members of the Royal Academy — government officials, academics . . .
[In his speech, the president] laid out standards that he privately must have known he would not reach. “The United States of America must remain a standard-bearer in the conduct of war,” he said. “That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions.” He did not acknowledge that the effort to close Guantanamo was failing or ddress the questions of whether his detention policies violated those guidelines. “We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals we fight to defend,” he said. It was as if he had pressed some sort of rewind button to 2008.
The trip spurred a thought the Obamas and their friends would voice to each other again and again as the president’s popularity continued to decline: the American public just did not appreciate their exceptional leader. The president “could get 70 or 80 percent of the vote anywhere but the U.S.” [President Obama’s old friend] Marty Nesbitt told [another old friend of Obama] Eric Whitaker indignantly. (Emphases added)
Again, a mixture of hubris and a failure to spot the gap between that hubris and the reality of his polices. In fact, it’s even worse than the book suggests. According to Gallup, U.S. leadership had a 49% approval rate in Europe in 2009 — a marked improvement over the final Bush years, but 49% was approximately Obama’s low mark for approval in America.
Lastly, Obama’s assessment of his political skills:
Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”
This would go a long way toward explaining the frequent tone-deafness of the Obama administration. A secure leader tries to surround himself or herself with people who are as smart or smarter than they are who will challenge them. Instead, Obama’s post-presidency may feature a staging of “Barry, Get Your Teleprompter.”