Friday, March 5, 2010

Obama's Presidential Posturing

Six weeks ago the question in this blog and before the nation was: How would Obama react to the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate? You may recall, I was not optimistic that he would get the message, or better, hear the voice of the people. I was not alone in making this prediction, so I claim no prophetic vision. Links here and here.

After all, we judge people by how they react to adversity. Reacting well is a sign of character. Reacting poorly, not so much.

Reacting well would have involved hearing the message and shifting course. The voters of Massachusetts voted down Obamacare. A president of character would have heard it and focused his presidency on the nation's greatest problem: jobs.

Obama, however, paid lip service to jobs, and went right back to his signature issue. With a vengeance.

He responded to the voters of Massachusetts by declaring that if they had cast ballots to ensure that the Democrats not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, thus, would not be able to pass Obamacare, that he would do it anyway, according to the process called "budget reconciliation."

As typified in his health care speech this week, Obama's response to America was: No more Mr. Nice Guy!

This tells us that Obama, and/or his advisers, believe that his sagging poll numbers and his defeat in Massachusetts derive from the fact that he had been perceived as too weak. The prospect of being seen as weak haunts Democratic politicians. That is why so many of them have made a mantra of the word "fight."

So Obama decided to take the gloves off, to come out swinging, and to insist that Congress take a vote on his health care initiative.

Thereby, he was putting his presidency on the line, but he was also engaging in an extravagant display of what can only be called macho posturing.

Manliness it was not. There is nothing manly about refusing to fold a losing hand. There is nothing manly about believing that leadership involves forcing everyone to do what you want them to do.

No, we are dealing with pure and simple machismo. It is not manly, but it is a caricature, a pose of same.

Leaders bring the nation together, as candidate Obama repeatedly promised during the campaign. Passing an enormously important piece of domestic legislation on a party-line vote, using a procedural trick, will divide the nation against itself for years to come.

If Obamacare is enacted into law on a strictly party-line vote every election in the foreseeable future will hinge on the issue of whether or not to repeal it.

Why is he doing it? Perhaps Obama believes in the dialectic. Perhaps he believes in it so strongly that he is working to aggravate the tension between classes in America. Perhaps he believes that a dialectical conflict, aka class warfare, is necessary to pave the way to socialism.

This does not constitute presidential leadership. It will merely draw the American people into the old fiction of a class struggle.

Obama is not trying to steer the ship of state. He is working as hard as he can to divide the passengers from the crew, the first class from the second class passengers.

Obama has cloaked his posturing with his usually vapid rhetoric, with statements that no one really believes, and with apparent truths that are mere sophistry.

As always, the media cannot bring itself to call him on it.

What could be more vapid than this: "Everything there is to say about health care has been said and just about everyone has said it."

The truth diverges wildly from this statement. In truth, no one has read the bill; precious few people even know what is in it; fewer still understand the effect it will have on the nation's economy. Given the obscurity of the bill, given the fact that no one understands it, the raging debate is simply part of the deliberative process.

As for the notion that everything has been said and that everyone has spoken, that is just a euphemism for: Shut up!

Obama seems to believe that leadership is about posing as the leader, wearing one or another masks, and pretending to be doing the job.

Soon enough we will know whether Congress is willing to call the bluff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama apparently no longer cares (if, in fact, he ever did) about whether his actions are politically astute. He is becoming more a regent than a president, acting as if he were immune to how the public views his presidency. He responded to John McCain's health care summit point about the bribes that were used to get a few senators to vote for the bill with a demeaning, "John, The campaign is over." Misses the point entirely. Then, he nominates the brother of a fence sitting representative for a lifetime judgeship three hours prior to a meeting with that representative in order to engage in that very same sort of bribery on his own. In the meantime word is out that he has been ramping up his crew for the 2102 election campaign. His disdain for us (i.e., our collective intelligence) is only matched by his ego. He never fails to disappoint.
Steve G