Monday, January 21, 2013

The Myth of Obama's Brilliance

George Packer is far too intelligent to believe what he wrote yesterday. Still, he wrote it.

One day, in the not too distant future, one hopes that he will wake up and say to himself: What was I thinking?

In a post on the New Yorker site Packer offered up an absurd piece of sophistry. You have heard it before, more than you would have liked, so we have to wonder why we are hearing it again.

The sophistry: President Obama has never said anything memorable or intelligent because he is just too damn smart.

Left thinking intellectuals have given their minds over to the challenge of producing mindless propaganda about Barack Obama. They excuse Obama’s failure on the grounds that he is so  smart that he cannot say anything smart.

Packer gussies up the thought in an amazing paragraph:

The fact that Obama has given so few truly great Presidential speeches didn’t turn out to be politically fatal, but it’s not irrelevant. It’s made him more vulnerable, put him more on the defensive than he should have been. He’s never given himself a phrase or sentence to wield in the crunch, conveying an idea that’s simple and yet profound enough to embed itself in the public’s mind, and that truly defines his political vision. Obama is too complex, too nuanced, too elusive, and too careful, for words that stick.

If Packer really believes what he is saying, then he should, at the least, offer some examples of Obama’s complex and nuanced brilliance. He has done so in the past.

Everyone agrees that Obama’s 2009 inaugural address was flat and uninspiring.

At the time, Packer was praising it to the skies. Today, he tells us that Obama has never given a memorable speech. In 2009 he was taking a different tack. 

Rick Richman summarizes:

On January 20, 2009, Packer wrote that Obama’s address had “echoes of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.” Its “tone and vision” had been “absolutely equal to the occasion and the times.” The “most eloquent words” were addressed to the entire world: “we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.” The most “passionately delivered” lines began: “We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waiver in its defense.” In short, Obama “delivered something better than rhetorical excitement”–he had spoken “the truth,” which “carries its own poetry,” and he had made “impossible” the job of the poet following him that day.

Let’s forgive Packer. He got caught up in the rapture of the moment. He was doing his best Chris Matthews imitation, showing that he too had had a religious experience while listening to the eloquent preacher-president.  

Here’s a rule of thumb: when you want to boost the self-esteem of someone whose speeches lack substance you tell him that he’s speaking poetry.

Yesterday, Packer offered on evidence of Obama's brilliance, so he left it to Richman to offer up some of Obama’s more memorable lines, concepts and phrasings. It does not amount to very much, but it’s worth quoting.

In Richman’s words:

It is not that Obama cannot come up with words that stick. Consider just a few: exceptional like Greece is exceptional; punished with a baby; typical white person; at a certain point you’ve made enough money; shovel-ready jobs that weren’t shovel-ready; pivoting to jobs; the stupidly-acting Cambridge police; we can’t eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees and just expect other countries to say OK; I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking; I have a gift, Harry; this time, you’ve got me; they should be thanking me; if you like your plan, you can keep it; Slurpee-sipping opponents; that business of yours, you didn’t build that; say that louder, Candy; I am a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. Few presidents have had so many sticky words.   

Writers like Packer are smart enough to know that they are looking at verbal detritus. They deserve credit for having convinced the nation that Obama’s inadequacies are a sign of his superiority.

In his enthusiasm to elevate Obama's mediocrity Packer offers yet another piece of nonsense:

If Obama is the best writer-President since Lincoln, it’s not because of an extraordinary gift for language—it’s because of his breadth of experience and depth of thought.

Packer is hedging by introducing his sentence with an “if.” Fair enough. But he quickly descends into nonsense when he writes about the dear leader’s “breadth of experience and depth of thought.”

Given that Obama assumed the presidency with precious little experience that might have qualified him for the office, the statement is obviously absurd. Someone who has spent most of his adult life working in government does not have a “breadth of experience.”

As for “depth of thought,” Packer should provide evidence for the assertion. On its face it’s absurd.

Try naming one political issue or historical event about which Barack Obama has contributed cogent or illuminating thoughts. Don’t strain your mind; there is none.

When Packer hints that Obama is the “best writer-President since Lincoln” he must be basing his opinion on the evidence of one self-serving, none-too-accurate aut0biography.

If Packer had stepped out of his role as propagandist he would have known that there is no real question about who is the best President-writer since Lincoln. The laurels belong to Theodore Roosevelt. No one even comes in second. Next to TR, Barack Obama is a mere poetaster.

TR wrote a seminal work on The Naval War of 1812 when he was 23. He followed up with dozens of works of historical and political analysis, mixed with works about his personal history and other topics of interest.

For breadth of experience and depth of thought Teddy Roosevelt towered over other writer-Presidents.

During World War I, private citizen Roosevelt wrote a series of op-ed columns about the War and America’s relation to it. These have been collected in four volumes, with the first being, America and the World War. The second was: Fear God and Take Your OwnPart.

In his columns Roosevelt offered a real time analysis of the state of the war and the Wilson administration’s conduct of foreign policy during it.

It was brilliant. It showed how a great president would have analyzed the complexities of the foreign policy challenges and what he would have done to manage the situation.

The books will teach you a great deal about politics and history and international relations. Better yet, they make for wonderful reading.


Ari said...

Obama has admitted on national TV that he doesn't have the intellect to do ninth grade mathematics.

That is not something that can be said about a brilliant mind.

Kristi said...

U.S. Grant's The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant are also exceptional.

Sam L. said...

Richman left out 'bitter clingers'.

And how often have we been told he is a great orator?

And how often has Obama disproved it?

Ari said...

You're right. The story of Grant writing those memoirs (while racing against death from throat cancer) is very moving.

It's also worthwhile to mention that one of our real brilliant presidents (James Garfield) published an original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. Oh, how we have fallen!

drama said...

Even IF he was actually intelligent, it would only have half its value because he's never done anything.

You can read all the books you want on medicine, engines, electrical wiring, whatever. If you haven't actually done it before the books will only have helped you understand the things that you don't know.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant people can be hard to understand when they are talking about a subject that the audience is unfamiliar with. When the president of the United States addresses its citizens on issues of importance what is so hard to communicate? Overall, he has tried hard to communicate that America is in crisis because of all the others before him and those who currently disagree with him. That is why he cannot communicate clearly. A lot of us see his administration as the crisis. He has had a relatively easy time of being President.

Making complex matters understandable is a sign of genius.
Obama may speak with great authority, but it is basically about nothing he is an expert in.

Anonymous said...

[Bravo Stuart. Saw this web bit, sharing it. Harold]

Pretrib Rapture Pride

by Bruce Rockwell

Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
Ice's mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn't find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 - and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers "the early pretribulationists" (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including "Pseudo-Ephraem" and a "Rev. Morgan Edwards," taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist's arrival as the only "imminent" event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an "imminent" pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards' historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson's "Deceiving and Being Deceived" for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read "pretrib" into phrases like "before Armageddon," "before the final conflagration," and "escape all these things"!
BTW, the KJV translators' other writings found in London's famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don't have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib "proof" in the KJV that its translators never found?
Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up "Famous Rapture Watchers" (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
Pretrib didn't flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby "explanatory notes" in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield's criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book "The Praise of Folly" which is available online.
Biola University's doctrinal statement says Christ's return is "premillennial" and "before the Tribulation." Although universities stand for "academic freedom," Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases - non-essentials the founders purposely didn't include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
Ice, BTW, has a "Ph.D" issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn't authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he's working on another "Ph.D" via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice's scholarliness, Google "Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "be careful in polemics - Peripatetic Learning," and "Walvoord Melts Ice."
Other fascinating Google articles include "The Unoriginal John Darby," "X-raying Margaret," "Edward Irving in Unnerving," "Pretrib Rapture Politics," "Pretrib Rapture Secrets," "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," and "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism" - most from the author of "The Rapture Plot," the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?
(Postscript: For another jolt or two Google "The Background Obama Can't Cover Up.")

Anonymous said...

The Real Morgan Edwards

by George Wilson

In 1995, in a 24-page booklet on 18th century pastor Morgan Edwards, evangelist John Bray claimed that Edwards taught a pretrib rapture in his 1788 book titled "Two Academical Exercises...."
Those echoing Bray include Thomas Ice who wrote "Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist." Edwards' 1788 work can be found on the internet.
In order to claim that Edwards held to pretrib, candidates for the I-can-find-pretrib-earlier-in-church-history-than-you-can medal - including Bray, Ice, LaHaye, Frank Marotta etc. - have intentionally covered up Edwards' "historicism," his belief that the tribulation had already been going on for hundreds of years. (How can anyone in the tribulation go back in time and look for a pretrib rapture?)
Here's proof of Edwards' historicism and its companion "day-year" theory which can view the 1260 tribulation "days" as "years."
On p. 14 Edwards described the Ottoman Empire (which was then already 400 years old) as the Rev. 13:11 "beast." On p. 20 he defined "Antichrist" as the already 1000-year-old "popery" and the "succession of persons" known as "Popes" - his other Rev. 13 "beast." He necessarily viewed Rev. 13's 1260-day period as 1260 literal years in order to provide enough time for his two "beasts."
On p. 19, while discussing "the ministry of the witnesses" of Rev. 11, he allotted "about 204 years" for their "years to perform" - years impossible to fit into a 3.5-year period!
What about Edwards' rapture? On pp. 21-23 he wrote about "the appearing of the son of man in the clouds, coming to raise the dead saints and change the living, and to catch them up to himself....The signs of Christ's appearing in the clouds will be extraordinary 'wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines,' &. (Matth. xxiv. 6-8.)....The signs of his coming, in the heavens will be 'the trump of God [I Thess. 4:16], vapor and smoke, which will darken the sun and moon [Matt. 24:29],'...and also cause those meteors called 'falling stars'....
Right after his combined rapture/advent (!), Edwards said: "And therefore, now, Antichrist...will...counterfeit the preceding wonders in heaven...causing 'fire to come down from heaven'....And that godhead he will now assume, after killing the two witnesses....Now the great persecution of the Jews will begin...for time, times, and half a time...."
Thomas Ice's article on Edwards (see first par. above) quoted only the first 27 words in the above quotation, ending with "to himself." This sort of unethical revisionism is constantly employed by many pretrib defenders.
Not only had most of Edwards' historicist tribulation occurred before his combined rapture/advent, but his Antichrist kept raging for 3.5 years even after the Matt. 24 signs! No wonder his tutor advised him to correct his thesis!
To read Edwards' complete work, Google "[PDF] Two Academical"
For more info on Edwards, Google "McPherson Page" (click on a reproduction of "Cover-Ups"). Also Google "Deceiving and Being Deceived" by historian Dave MacPherson.

/the above was seen on net. Karl/