Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Obama: A 'Stranger' In The White House

Here's the way the New York Times describes NBC Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd's new book, entitled The Stranger, Barack Obama In The White House:
The book delivers a stinging indictment of [Obama's] presidency so far…The overall picture that emerges here is that of a highly insular and centralized White House that is reluctant to listen to outside experts, prone to cutting cabinet members out of the loop and unable or unwilling to learn from its mistakes…Mr. Todd…has grounded his arguments in hundreds of interviews with Washington sources and his intimate knowledge of how that city works or (more often, these days) fails to work…The Stranger…provides the lay reader with a brisk, if depressing overview of the Obama White House, while giving Washington insiders plenty of colorful new details.
Unable to learn from mistakes?
And Chuck Todd and NBC and the New York Times are just now discovered this? Just now - after six long years?
Up till now Todd had been one of Obama's biggest cheerleaders. In fact, in appearances promoting the book Chuck still seems to be defending Obama and the liberal elites. And the New York Times still seems joined to the president and his cronies at the hip(s). Indeed, all of big media presented this guy to us as The Second Coming. And, even as others expressed doubts, they kept defending him.
It was left to citizen-journalists such as ourselves to find out what the guy was really like and tell you about it. And for a long, long time our warnings fell on deaf ears.

Here's something that we wrote before Obama was even elected:

I think part of the reason [for Obama's problems] lies in the fact that he is not a joiner, not a "connector" not a people person. He's often been called "cool." But he's beyond cool. He's cold. He generates no warmth. He's a man without passion. He's detached; disconnected.

I go back to something I posted here in August, 2008 when I was commenting on and quoting from a column by David Brooks in the New York Times. Once again, here it is:

Like many pundits Brooks wonders why Obama isn't running away with this thing; why he hasn't pulled way ahead. But Brooks has an answer to the question that few others have offered. He believes America hasn't fully engaged with Obama because Obama himself is not an engager, not a committer, not a person with clear, deep, identifiable values and roots. And Americans sense this. They get it.
Brooks describes Obama as a sojourner: someone who stays for awhile and then moves on; someone who doesn't put down roots or make commitments; a journeyer.
And Brooks gives plenty of examples to back up his claim. The enigmatic Obama is a man who nobody quite knows because he's never been anywhere long enough or been part of anything long enough or been intimately involved enough in any one cause or institution for anyone to get to know him.
This may account for Obama's inability to reach rural and small town voters. America's small-town sensibilities and homespun traditions make us suspicious of drifters. On Main Streets across the country Americans seem to be furrowing their brows and wondering: "Who is this guy? Where did he come from, what does he really believe and where is he planning to take us?"

Brooks says: There is a sense that because of his unique background and temperament, Obama lives apart. He put one foot in the institutions he rose through on his journey but never fully engaged. As a result, voters have trouble placing him in his context, understanding the roots and values in which he is ineluctably embedded.
And when Obama shifts positions on issues or disavows former friends and advisors (as he's done a lot of both recently) he only reinforces suspicions and solidifies voters' reluctance to embrace his campaign.
Placed in context, this is all very understandable.

Brooks again: When we’re judging candidates (or friends), we don’t just judge the individuals but the milieus that produced them. We judge them by the connections that exist beyond choice and the ground where they will go home to be laid to rest. Andrew Jackson was a backwoodsman. John Kennedy had his clan. Ronald Reagan was forever associated with the small-town virtues of Dixon and Jimmy Carter with Plains.
It is hard to plant Obama.

So, yes - there were a few people who saw all this and who foresaw Obama's problems.
But not Chuck Todd. And Not the New York Times. And not CBS or NBC or MessNBC or CNBC or ABC or NPR or PBS or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times or the Boston Globe or the Philadelphia Inquirer or Time magazine. Not any of them.

And shame on them! Shame on 'em all!

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