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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Obama: L'État c'est Moi! And my job is to tell you, my subjects, what your values should be

One would expect even a junior state senator from Illinois to have a better grasp of politics than Barack Obama has shown in his comments about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero. One would certainly expect even a junior lecturer, much less a senior one, from Chicago Law School to have an instant grasp of the difference between whether something's legal and something's wise. Basically, I'd expect anyone running for high school senior class president to be able to draw this kind of distinction with great ease and indisputable clarity if he wished to opine on one question but not the other.

"Amateurish" is insufficient. "Embarrassing" would be presumed, except that Obama has still shown himself to be, quite literally, incapable of being ashamed.

Do you remember all the classic cartoons — Tom & Jerry, for example — in which very large, fierce watch-dogs get very excited, and they run from their doghouses across their yards as fast as they can? And they're practically flying, and they're really about to finally catch the cat when — boing! — they hit the end of their leashes and they're are yanked violently, hilariously, to a complete stop? That's what I was reminded of in reading, first, Greg Sargent's WaPo post from Saturday morning about Obama's Friday night speech being "one of the finest moments of Obama's presidency" precisely because Obama didn't just address the legal issue, but instead expressed his full support for building the center near Ground Zero because it would be flat-out un-American not to welcome and respect the group proposing to build this center; and, second, Mr. Sargent's wounded and genuinely pathetic one-line update after Obama's Saturday "clarifications." (H/t Patterico.) Repeat after me, Mr. Sargent, with more feeling this time: "We've always been at war with Eastasia ...." If you can't pivot on a dime, you're useless as a shill, Mr. Sargent!

But as our mirth finally subsides, let us consider the premise of this entire Obama pratfall, as very deliberately emphasized and then re-emphasized by the president's top handlers and spin-meisters, as reported in their camp newsletter newspaper of choice (emphasis mine):

Faced with withering Republican criticism of his defense of the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque near ground zero, President Obama quickly recalibrated his remarks on Saturday, a sign that he has waded into even more treacherous political waters than the White House had at first realized....

....

... Mr. Obama’s attempt to clarify his remarks, less than 24 hours after his initial comments at a White House iftar, a Ramadan sunset dinner, pushed the president even deeper into the thorny debate about Islam, national identity and what it means to be an American — a move that is riskier for him than for his predecessors....

....

“I think it’s very important, as difficult as some of these issues are, that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about,” the president said here on Saturday.

....

White House aides say Mr. Obama was well aware of the risks. “He understands the politics of it,” David Axelrod, his senior adviser, said in an interview....

....

Mr. Obama has typically weighed in on such delicate matters only when circumstances have forced his hand, as he did during his campaign for president, when he gave a lengthy speech on race in America in response to controversy swirling around his relationship with his fiery former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Debate about the Islamic center had been brewing for weeks, yet Mr. Obama had studiously sidestepped it.

But the Ramadan dinner seemed to leave the president little choice. Aides said there was never any question about what he would say.

“He felt that he had a responsibility to speak,” Mr. Axelrod said.

So let's put aside, for the nonce, whether this issue is remotely comparable in any way to candidate Obama's warm embrace and then bus-throwing-under of Rev. Wright (a political embarrassment unique to Obama and of own making). Let's not necessarily attribute to Obama or his staff, but instead let us assume for now the responsibility of the NYT's writers and editors, for the positively insane assertion that the Islamic religious calendar ever could or should leave the President of the United States "with little choice" or "force his hand." (After all, Obama can not only draw on all of his power as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, he can fire up his special personal magic to lower the oceans and heal the planet; and you're telling me he's helpless, hopeless, and without alternatives that would let him even choose his own topics of discussion at a short speech at a dinner held to show respect to a religion he insists he doesn't belong to?)

And contrary to Obama's characterization, this controversy is in no way "difficult": Regardless of his or her political preferences, only a moron could fail to understand that (1) it's probably legal but (2) a spectacularly bad idea, as a matter of taste and policy (not law), for an Islamic center of the sort these particular folks are proposing to be built by these particular folks where they're proposing to build it. The only reason this controversy is still getting so much traction is that the 80% of Americans who instinctively understand and accept this simple distinction are quite properly annoyed that Barack Obama and the remaining 20% of Americans continue to insist on arguing about First Amendment rights.

But read again the part I've highlighted with green print — the part about "stay[ing] focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about." And then re-read the reasoning for why Obama and his staff thought they were compelled to take a position, any position, in this local land use controversy. This administration has once again told you, America, in just so many words, that it sees the President's job as telling you what your values are and, indeed, what they should be.

In fact, Obama and his administration see his role as national nanny and instructor in matters moral to be so paramount that he was forced, despite knowing the risks, to "wade deep" in controversy, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous political fortune, just to set us straight on Friday. (And then to set us, uh, straighter, on Saturday.) Oh, poor, poor under-appreciated, misunderstood Barry! Because that's the spin, folks: Obama, according to Axelrod, hasn't been at all politically inept on this, but rather, he's been brave and selfless.

Now aren't you ashamed of yourself? You definitely should be!

The arrogance, the condescension, and the megalomania of Barack Obama and his minions continues to amaze me. Is there no political strategist with access to the Obama White House who can point out the obvious to them — that Obama's credibility has long since been exhausted, that even his relevance is fading, and that the single very best thing he could do for himself and his party right now would be to stop his own endless hemorrhage of talk, talk, talk?

Posted by Beldar at 04:29 AM in Current Affairs, Mainstream Media, Obama, Politics (2010), Religion | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | Aug 15, 2010 10:45:40 AM | Permalink

Of all the posts I've put up on my little blog, "...and the sharks will come." gets the most hits by far. Whenever I think it has run its course, something like this turns up and tempts me to haul it out again. I've yet to successfully resist that temptation. :-)
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(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 15, 2010 7:04:50 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Your objections to "Draw Mohammed Day" are holding up well, as this incident shows. They likely won't use this defense, but if the builders of the mosque wanted, they could use the "Draw Mohammed Day," as precedent. I was on the other side duirng DMD, and congratulate you on seeing farther than I did.

2. If The One has so much trouble with this issue, imagine the difficulties he'll be in when the Iranians unveil their A-bomb, and the Israelis haul off and smack Iran. Trying to stay on both sides of this issue will tax even the press's ability to lie.

3. Note that he was attending a Ramadan dinner. Next year, there will doubtless be dinners in memory of 9/11. Think he'll attend any of them unless he's dragged their by a team of wild bulls?

4. I think the fiercest flame of objection is the visible contempt the elites are showing to the citizenry. The mosques is bad enough, but knowing that Bloomberg&Co. will clear obstacles for it in a way they wouldn't dream of doing for any other religion. Rudy Guiliani may have been "America's Mayor," but his foisting of Bloomberg on New Yorkers has proved really horrifying.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(3) Larry Brown made the following comment | Aug 17, 2010 1:59:16 PM | Permalink

Sharia creeps no longer. Traipsing has begun.

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