Posted by Curt on 21 July, 2015 at 5:23 pm. 6 comments already!


Victor Davis Hanson:

President Obama is said to feel liberated, in the sense that he can finally say what, and do as, he pleases — without much worry any more over political ramifications, including presidential and congressional elections. Obama’s lame-duck presidency has now devolved into the progressive bully pulpit that his base always longed for. Of course, his editorializing and executive orders may worry Hillary Clinton — much as Donald Trump’s pronouncements do his more circumspect Republican rivals.

Trump is a celebrity who tweets and phones his praise of and insults to comedians, athletes, and media kingpins. But so does Obama love the celebrity world. He is comfortable with Jay Z and Beyoncé, picks the Sweet Sixteen on live television, and has reminded us that he’s the LeBron of the Teleprompter, who won’t choke under the spotlights. Both see pop culture and the presidency as a fitting together perfectly.

Would the Chicago community-organizing cadre be that much different from the Trump Manhattan clique? Isn’t big-city know-how key to “fundamentally transforming” the country? Is there that much difference between Trump’s golden name tags and Obama’ faux Greek columns, vero possumus, “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” and cooling the planet and lowering the seas?

Would not Trump perhaps agree with this Obama assertion from 2008: “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. 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.” Both men seem to believe that the presidency is dependent on ratings, something like The Apprentice: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

In his current unbridled commentary and without worry over party politics, Obama has perhaps gone the full Trump — though in the opposite fashion of tossing out politically correct themes of the progressive Left, which lead to little concrete action. So Obama is Trump’s doppelgänger. The two see the world in similarly materialist — though, again, opposite — terms: Trump wants net worth to be the litmus test of political preparation (“The point is that you can’t be too greedy”), even as Obama professes that big money is a Romney-like 1 percent disqualification. Obama’s infamous communalistic quotes to the effect that you didn’t build that, at some point you’ve made enough money, and this is no time to profit are just bookends to Trump’s money-is-everything ideas that he built everything, he’s never going to make enough money, and it is always time to profit.

On matters of race, liberals seem to like the fact that Obama no longer lectures so much about pathologies endemic in black communities, but now focuses on institutionalized bias, as if he is tired of scripted talk about the preservation of the family, the need for education, and the avoidance of illegitimacy and drug use. It is far easier to reduce all that down to institutional racism and legacy unfairness, much as Trump waves his hands about the next complex issue — trade, China, immigration, veterans’ affairs — and tells his audiences that a distant “they” and “them” are the problem. The respective bases both love the message that someone else did it to us.

The media rightly notice Trump’s first-person — I, me, my, mine — overload, but that too is Obama’s favorite kind of pronoun. The president often refers to his “team” in narcissistic terms, as if the West Wing were a sort of Trump Tower. It is said that Trump is tasteless and gets into tit-for-tat squabbles or tosses out gross quips that are unpresidential. One wonders when Trump will make jokes about the Special Olympics, or about siccing lethal drones on the would-be suitors of his daughters. In any case, Trump handled NBC’s Katy Tur in the same manner in which Obama dispensed with CBS’s Major Garrett.

Trump was blasted for editorializing on the tragedy of Kate Steinle’s murder at the hands of a seven-time felon and five-time-deported illegal alien. But that habit of seeking political resonance in individual tragedies bears the Obama imprimatur. Although the Steinle tragedy did not offer Obama the correct political calculus, he has sought to channel Ferguson, Baltimore, and mass school shootings as fuel for his own political agenda. So far Trump has not quite descended to the level of the president’s use of a racial affinity with Trayvon Martin, although his quip about prisoners of war like John McCain being less than heroic comes close.

More importantly, like Trump, Obama does not worry over inconsistency or bombast, and has no hesitation about insisting on things that not only are not, but perhaps could not be, true. Obamacare would, Obama assured the nation, lower premiums and deductibles, reduce the deficit, and allow Americans to keep their current doctors and plans, but in fact it did no such things. Obama repeatedly warned his supporters that our immigration law was unquestioned settled law, duly enacted by Congress, and that no president could unilaterally override it — a strange Freudian foretelling of exactly what the president would soon do. Reset with Russia was the proper corrective to George W. Bush’s alienation of Vladimir Putin — only it was not, and instead ensured new levels of Russian–American alienation. The post-Saddam Iraq was a great achievement; the country was now secure and self-reliant enough for American troops to leave — and then it just wasn’t, after we skedaddled. How exactly did the “jayvee” ISIS team punch above its weight as the varsity? “Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.” That was six years ago, and Guantanamo is still in business.

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