Saturday, April 9, 2011

Barack the Supercilious

Had it been anyone else, the media, the cognoscenti, and the intelligentsia would have already formed a chorus to shower him with mockery. The howls of derision would have been heard around the globe.

Had it been a Republican politician, to say nothing of a Republican president, comedians would have been replaying the gaffe over and over and over again.

But, since the perpetrator of the outrage was none other than Barack Obama, the media critics, the intellectuals, and the stand-up comics have fallen silent. Nary a word has passed their lips about Obama’s attempt to answer a citizen’s question about the spike in gas prices.

The most prominent exception was James Taranto in his Best of the Web column on the Wall Street Journal website.

Since Obama became president, gas prices have nearly doubled. They tax the American economy; they do not promote growth and prosperity.

While environmentalists believe that anyone who drives a car is engaging in a crime against the planet, and thus, see nothing wrong with gas taxes, for the rest of us they are a burden.

So, a solid citizen from Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, attending a town hall at a windmill factory-- more on that later-- had the temerity to ask the president about the high price of gasoline.

Our president saw therein an opportunity to ridicule the man, both for driving a gas guzzling SUV and for having too many children.

Beyond driving too much, this citizen was called out for not availing himself of all the services provided by Planned Parenthood.

In Obama’s words, from the White House transcript: “I know some of these big guys, they're all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything. You're one of them? Well, now, here's my point. If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting eight miles a gallon--(laughter)--you may have a big family, but it's probably not that big. How many you have? Ten kids, you say? Ten kids? (Laughter.) Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then. (Laughter.) . . .So, like I said, if you're getting eight miles a gallon you may want to think about a trade-in. You can get a great deal. I promise you, GM or Ford or Chrysler, they're going to be happy to give you a deal on something that gets you better gas mileage.” Link here.

Let’s see: the man’s having trouble paying for gas because he has too many children and because his big SUV only gets 8 miles a gallon. No one expects any better so no one noticed that most SUVs average slightly less than 20 miles a gallon.

When you are talking about Obama, facts do not count.

If the man can’t afford the gas, he should rush out and buy a new car. That’s Obama’s answer. Did he imagine that a man who can’t afford the gas might not be able to buy a new vehicle?

But then, there’s the president’s attitude: contempt and ridicule, snide and sarcastic. Which is fine with everyone, because the citizen must one those bitter folks who cling to their guns and religion.

If Obama were a Republican, the media would have already pronounced him unfit for office. Where, they would have cried out, is the empathy? Why can’t he feel this man’s pain?

Whatever else he felt, Bill Clinton at least pretended to feel everyone’s pain.

Barack Obama dismisses the man’s concerns as trivial, as the unfortunate consequence of his not having a new government-approved car and his personal failure to limit the size of his family.

Apparently, our president is so insecure about his stature that he feels compelled, even when he is unprovoked, to assert that status at the expense of an everyday American citizen.

As he was speaking these words, Obama was relaxed, he was in a groove; he must have thought that he was showing charm, wit, and personality.

Not only does he sound arrogant and clueless, completely out of touch with the concerns of normal Americans, but he is completely full of himself for being so much better than they are.

If the gas price has spiked on his watch, the fault lies with those who have old SUVs and too many children.

As I was reading the transcript, I started wondering-- it’s my wont-- if there was a good word to describe the president’s insensitivity and lack of character.

Surely, he was sarcastic and arrogant and contemptuous; he refused to take any responsibility and deflected blame by turning the audience against the questioner.

But, I asked myself, is there a word that bundles qualities like arrogance and contempt, while at the same time including the pretense to moral superiority.

After a time, I found just the right word: supercilious.

There you have it: Barack the Supercilious.

As you undoubtedly recall, qualifying someone’s name by adding a telling epithet has a long and distinguished history. We remember Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, Richard the Lion Hearted, Charles the Fat, Charles the Bald, and even an unfortunate British king called Aethelred the Unready.

In fact, if “the unready” had not already been taken, I would have considered it as an alternative to “supercilious.” Barack the Unready-- it has a certain resonance to it.

While we are talking about the Obama energy policy, let’s also keep in mind that Obama was holding his town-hall meeting at a factory owned by a Spanish company that produces windmills.

Here the irony is very thick, indeed. Let’s see: Spain has led the world in developing the kinds of green technology that Obama believes will lead America to a new age of prosperity. Link to Soeren Kern's article on postmodern Spain here.

Spain has also discovered that for every green job that government spending creates, it loses 2.2 other jobs. The current unemployment rate in Spain is around 20%.

Spain is being led, or misled, by a socialist politician named Zapatero who tends to believe that if you say that everything is going well then everything is going well.

Whenever anything goes wrong in Spain-- these days, just about everything is going wrong-- Zapatero the socialist blames free market economic policies.

Better yet, the government produced a false prosperity by encouraging and sustaining a property boom that is even worse than ours. As of today, the country is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

As opposed to Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, Spain has earned the label of: too big to save.

Time will tell whether it’s true.

For those who have a more literary bent, I am also happy to report that Spain is also the home of the fictional character whose exploits and derring-do gave us the expression: “tilting at windmills.”

Of course, I am speaking of Don Quixote, the central character in the great seventeenth century novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

As you recall, Don Quixote set out to fight injustice by pretending that he was still living in the Middle Ages. When he espied a wind farm, he took the windmills to be giants. As a pseudo-knight he wanted to fight against them as medieval knights did: by jousting.

Don Quixote was a model reactionary, a man who strove to return to a glorious past where knights rode forth in shining armor to save damsels in distress.

Men fought and competed by jousting… and it was all done in the name of justice.

Apparently, Don Quixote did not know about the Hundred Years War.

Today, Quixote lives on as an adjective. The word quixotic still refers to someone who is striving to achieve visionary ideals, but who is also impractical and impulsive, who lives in his own world, and who is impervious to reality.

It seems that our president has masked his quixotic temperament with a bad case of the supercilious.


Susan said...

Brilliant article!

Judging from the comments in various blogs, Obama's disdainful and patronizing comments raised more than a few supercilia!

Your chosen epithet has the added advantage of meaning, at its root, "to cover or conceal." Choice verbs to describe our most transparent president evah! It also is the source of the word "hollow," among others. Obama...He of Hollow Promises....

I also think the famously condescending phrase attributed (probably falsely) to Marie Antoinette, "qu'ils mangent de la brioche" is quite apposite here.
Barak "qu'ils mangent de la brioche" Obama is a mouthful, but the repetition of K and b sounds gives it a nice ring too.

JP said...

Obama is trying desperately to lose the 2012 election as far as I can tell.

I'll be excited to see what gems he will produce as gas prices start to climb and really start to hurt people.

Dennis said...

My son has on girl that is 5 and twins that are 3years old. I wonder when the last time Obama tried to fit the required number of car seats in a sedan or Prius?

David Foster said...

Good post. I'd add that===unfortunately===the kind of superciliousness that you identify in Obama has become increasingly common in our society. For example, here's a woman who got a rather obnoxious letter from her electric company, chastising her for excessive energy use in comparison with her neighbors. This is similar to Obama's snideness about the man's car and children, in that the electric company couldn't possibly have known enough about her life (which in her case, involved baking massive amounts of cookies for soldiers overseas) to form either moral or practical judgments about her energy usage.

GM Roper said...

Stuart, the press will never hold Obama to the same standards that they hold conservatives to. As you noted in an article on Sarah Palin, they have no journalistic integrity.

Great post!

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Hi, George. Of course, you're right, but the more I think about the lack of integrity among journalists the more I am horrified by the thought.

When I try to console myself I say that the reason these media outlets are failing and flailing is that they lack the the minimum amount of integrity.

When you can't trust the facts in the mainstream media, why pay for it.