Saturday, April 23, 2011

Obama's Fading Brilliance

How many stupid things do you have to do before they stop calling you brilliant?

If your name is Barack Obama, the answer is: a very large number.

Christopher Dickey has his eyes wide open. He takes the full measure of Obama’s failure to manage the crisis that is rolling across the Middle East. Yet, he continues to feel compelled to affix the label “brilliant” to Obama. Link here.

Yesterday, the Syrian tyrant, Bashar Assad, gunned down dozens of protesters. The White House put out a vigorous, and balanced call for peace: “We call on all sides to cease and desist from the use of violence.”

Dickey writes: “Surely President Obama can do better than that. Or perhaps not. The drama—the tragedy—increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all, a persuasive politician and diplomat who gets others to crawl out on limbs, has them take big risks to break through to a new future, and then turns around and walks away from them when the political winds in the United States threaten to shift.”

No, the real question is when will people like Christopher Dickey recognize that there is no brilliant strategist or persuasive diplomat in the White House? We are being governed by a man who is in over his head, who is out of his depth, who is doing a job for which he has no qualifications.

While we are on the topic, let’s add that the same applies to the current Secretary of State.

For my part I would like to hear how people like Christopher Dickey could ever have thought that Obama had a brilliant intellect? And, given the evidence that they so forcefully analyze, how can they continue to believe in his brilliance?

To his credit, Dickey recognizes that this does not all date to the most recent crisis. In his words: “They were evident from Year 1 of the Obama presidency in his excruciating deliberations over the Afghan surge, in the hand extended ineffectually to Iran, and the lines drawn in the sand, then rubbed out and moved back, and further back, in the dismal, failed efforts to build a Palestinian peace process. But in Libya the crisis of American tentativeness has grown worse almost by the day. Muammar Gaddafi holds on, despite Obama’s demand for him to leave, and the civilians that the Americans, their allies, and the United Nations vowed to protect are being slaughtered.”

Right now the situation in Libya seems to have reached a stalemate. This is not a good thing. Dickey explains: “But a protracted stalemate in Libya, which is where NATO’s noncommittal commitment appears to be headed, will be an unmitigated disaster, precisely, for American interests.”

I like the phrase, “noncommittal commitment.” It's an excellent way to capture intellectual incoherence.

I recommend that you read all of Dickey’s analysis of the situation. We can make it make some sense if we understand that Barack Obama does not much care about American interests.

Somehow, someone in the media ought to figure out that Barack Obama mostly cares about Barack Obama’s interests. Right now, he is out and around preparing for the next election campaign. If events in the world threaten to intrude on the campaigner-in-chief, then will have to wait.


David Foster said...

Many people who define themselves as intellectuals seem to be very, very concerned about *status* and their feeling that American society doesn't give them enough of it. Hence, they are especially likely to support a politician who they imagine is *like them*.

I use the term "imagine" because, of course, that's all it is. There is no way in hell that Barack Obama would have been happy or successful pursuing a career as a college professor...his own drive for status and renown is way too strong, and he lacks the patience to do serious scholarly work. But the superficials were enough to convince hundreds of thousands of them.

valix said...

What if USA is an empire that does not recognize himself as such. And what if the president and the circle of power does.
It seems to me the president is following a la lettre the Bush doctrine in foreign policy, or the empire line of dealing with problems: just stir the events in the Muslim world; or make a friend of Iran without public acknowledgement.
It is not clear how Mr. President will deal with all problems at home but for me one thing is clear: judging the President by what he says is not enough, his acts are in line with the empire policy about the world. For now the direction seems to keep Iran in check and to make sure Russia does not get a grip on Europeans policies.

ck said...

Obama is brilliant, or at least his puppet master(Soros) is.Their goals are just different than ours.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Isn't there a difference between being an empire and having your national interest effected by events in other parts of the world?

To David's point, I recall some professors at the University of Chicago Law School saying that Obama would never have been considered for tenure there.

Of course, he never wrote anything... being the only president of the Harvard Law Review in history not to publish in its pages.

And second, when you write law review articles, you can be very easily found out as a fraud. If you are out there giving sermon-like lectures that are causing masses of people to swoon, it is much easier to dupe people.

Phocion said...

Maybe I am just immune to hype, but I have never considered Obama brilliant. I read or hear nothing in his speeches that should give anyone the idea of a well thought or reasoned dialogue.
What we get is a splash of platitudes, a dash of "hope and change" and little of the who, what where, when or how of anything he states. Given the lack of scholarship in academe and the poor skills of most in the "media" I can understand how some of them might consider Obama brilliant.
Name the effective writers and thinkers on the Left, in the media or academe? Only if one believes appealing to the lowest common denominator, pejoratives and name calling can one believe there is even a pretension to brilliance.
I did not like Clinton, but at least he actually had the skills, but did not have the wherewithal to effectively use his abilities. Obama has none of that.
Obama and most of his administration is lost in the 1930s. They haven't had a thought that does not have it genesis in the 1930s or before and everyone is and was a failed idea.
If Obama is brilliant then we are surely hurting for brilliant people.

Susan said...

Leon de Winter has a very different take in a sobering article on Obama's brilliance in Pajamas Media today. It would be interesting to have your critique of it.

Susan said...

The article is called "Wake Up Critics: Here's Obama's Grand Plan"

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I join you in recommending Leon de Winter's article. He is saying, as I understand it, that there is method to the ineptitude. He also seems to be suggesting that Obama has allowed himself to be manipulated by some brilliant minds, observation that would not lead me to think that Obama is brilliant but that he has cleverly let other people pull his strings.

I agree that Obama has a master plan, and I also agree that his goal is to promote the values of social justice. In a way he tries to assert his brilliance is the way that many celebrities do... by taking on the positions that supposedly smart people believe in.

This does not make him any more brilliant than Sean Penn or other people who have demagogic talents.

I suspect that his brilliance is a mirage, like much of the rest of him, and that people who are watching Obama deal with the current foreign policy crisis are beginning to see that they have been seriously duped.

If you do not have complete power over the media, it is very difficult to maintain the illusion of a brilliant Obama.

Susan said...

I think your understanding about Obama's "brilliance" intersects in part with de Winter's but also differs. De Winter clearly thinks Obama possesses exceptional intellectual gifts. You obviously do not (and I agree with you and also Phocion, above). His "brilliance" strikes me as akin to the reflected light of the moon --it's a mirage, as you say--not his own: he would be nothing without the adoring gaze of the idiot media. Thank you for reading the article and giving your take. I'll just note the the Pajamas article has plenty of interesting commentary by posters. Number #38, a self-stated former IRS employee, constructs a possible scenario for Obama's "lost years' that may be over the top, and does make one wonder....