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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Sunday, May 26, 2013
O’s split personality
Post photo composite
If this is what he meant by “going Bulworth,” heaven help America.
Beset by growing world disorder, a sluggish economy and big scandals at home, President Obama tried to reset his presidency last week with a long speech on national security and terrorism.
At least that’s what he said the speech was about. In reality, it was — surprise — about him. Both sides of him.
It turns out the president doesn’t like war, but believes it is sometimes necessary. He doesn’t like it when our military causes civilian casualties, but says bad things happen in war.
He believes drones save lives with their precision, but he’s not sure he should have unilateral power to use them. He ponders “profound questions” about targeted killings of al Qaeda leaders, but concludes they are legal and moral.
Does the name Hamlet ring a bell?
White House insiders recently told a reporter that Obama fantasizes about “going Bulworth,” a reference to the 1998 film where Warren Beatty plays a politician who chucks caution to speak his mind. They implied that Obama is frustrated by “distractions” like Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservatives and the Justice Department snooping on journalists and wants to get back to building utopia.
Yet the Obama on display Thursday was more a man tormented by self-doubts than frustrated by opponents and problems. He was navel-gazing out loud, describing his soul-searching adventures and using his favorite personal pronoun — I — nearly 50 times. He took both sides of issues so often that Politico headlined its story “Obama Debates Obama.”
Liberals who view ambivalence as proof of superior morality and intellect probably swooned. Hairsplitting and hand-wringing makes them feel good about themselves, which, as George Will noted, seems to be the whole point of modern liberalism.
By that standard, the Obama presidency is a raging success. Relentlessly self-aggrandizing about its “unprecedented” approach to everything under the sun, it is, as a result, blind to the problems of everyday Americans. With the scandals, especially the abuse of power by the taxman, further eroding trust in government, even supporters are wondering whether they represent evidence of incompetence or corruption.
Neither option seems to worry Obama, with his speech full of semantic preening instead of persuasive policy ideas. In one passage, he insisted that America was not engaged in “a boundless ‘global war on terror,’ ” calling our efforts instead a “series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists” around the world.