Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So Who Is Obama Anyway?

I've got a secret, I've been hiding, under my skin.
My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain IBM.
So if you see me acting strangely, don't be surprised,
I'm just a man who needed someone, and somewhere to hide
To keep me alive-just keep me alive.
. . .
The time has come at last
To throw away this mask
So everyone can see.
My true identity...
I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!
Styx, "Mr. Roboto" (written by Dennis DeYoung, from album Kilroy was Here, A&M Records, 1983).
I agree with a friend of mine that President-Elect Obama is much more likable (at least so far) than candidate Obama. On the whole, Obama's announced appointments have been more judicious than I have expected. I'm dubious about the Attorney-General designate; and putting Senator Clinton at the State Department has the drawbacks I've previously mentioned. But on the whole, Obama has proceeded to assemble a reasonably sane-looking team. In particular, I am pleased that Robert Gates is staying at the Pentagon for now.
Not everybody is happy, of course. Robert Scheer, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, seems worried about Obama's going to "Wall Street insiders" bearing "comforting" messages for the financial community, and deplores that Obama is sticking with the "absurd 'war on terror" language he inherited from Bush" in discussing the Bombay terrorist attacks. Mr. Scheer fears that "superstar" Obama "on which it all hangs," he of the "big" brain, the "fresh" style -- ". . .may stop being Obama, the agent of change who electrified a nation."
We should be so lucky! No fear liberals, no fear. You don't need to remind Obama to be Obama, any more than Reagan's True Believers needed to beg the world to "Let Reagan Be Reagan." St. Barack's got a bagful of presents for you and trouble for the rest of us, and he's buying quiet and cover to get them unwrapped with encouragingly sound appointments. Why quibble about appointments the markets and circumstances are going to force him into anyway?
Still, you wonder just who this man Obama is, that so many of our fellow citizens decided to fetch into the President's House. In large part, Obama won because he's not a Republican, and because he said absolutely nothing of any consequence, and did it in such a polished, uplifting way. In his book The Audacity of Hope, the Hoped for Sainted One told us that "I serve as a blank screen, on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."
And there you have it from the Great One himself -- we just don't know who Obama is, and he's not telling, yet. Mr. Scheer, like so many others, has his own ideas about what Hope and Change might look like; but, like the rest of us, he has no clue what's on the screen next, or who will get to project their views there. Mr. Scheer, and all of us, have no choice now but to stay tuned.


Dymphna said...

Still, you wonder just who this man Obama is, that so many of our fellow citizens decided to fetch into the President's House.

I don't think *he8 knows who he is, other than the fact that he's not his own man.

Like Clinton and Carter before him, Ob is a momma's boy. That's not a bad thing, merely sad: it leaves a hole in a man's soul where his daddy self out to be.

Like Clinton and Carter he had an angry momma and married an angry woman. He'll spend his emotional life trying to satisfy a woman who is temperamentally unable to be satisfied. Miz Michelle meet Miz Hillary meet Miz Rosalyn.

And if his wife owns his body, Bill Ayers owns his soul. The Cook Co machine owns a whole lotta IOUs they'll be looking to cash in real quick, before things fall apart.

When you think about it, Ob may be the most "owned" prez since Grant.

In foreign policy he's over his head. Anyone would be. Mumbai and the Somali piracy problem are prodromal symptoms of a much larger and bloodier engagement amongst the Indians, Pakistanis, etc. That one is going to be horrendous area of the world for a long time to come.

As for the Somalis, we could repeat our founding history and pull a "to the shores of Tripoli"...the rest of the world would be relieved even while they griped about our imperialism.

But we're stretched too thin and Ob is not the man for that job. He is the antithesis of the military response. No help it will be murderous and malignant. In the high seas it will come to be every country for itself, as the Danes, Indians and ? Chinese are proving. While oil is cheap, shipping around the Cape avoids the problem, but when it rises again, so will the hostage "problem" and the lawlessness.

I hope that economic crises keep him too busy to enact much of his Keynesian re-tread ideas. This problem is too big, too deep, too wide for any government intervention to be successful. Which does not mean they will not improverish us by throwing great wads of money at proven failures.

What bothers me most, and makes me feel less in control of my own life is his "militia" -- a way to get around the second amendment of private ownership of firearms, imho. I don't think it will work.

The other worrisome idea is to take private pensions and put them in a big government pot. The money will be spent ahead of time, like Soc Security, it won't be inherited by my children, and it will destroy what little savings activities there are in this country.

In that sense, I find him of concern domestically. The rest is frills and feathers...

BTW, we're getting emails from frightened people who feel thay they need to drop out of the grid and try to make it on their own. They are beginning to see that the things they trusted are either not there or will be removed...they sound scared and despairing for their children.

The interesting times we live in seem to get more interesting every year.

Sterling said...

Over a year and a half ago, I concluded that Barack Hussein Obama is a smart, insightful, pragmatic, non-idealogical, honest, and independent man. I continue to so believe.

El Jefe Maximo said...


Ob (or, as I call him around here, St. Barack or the Sawdust Messiah) the most owned President since Grant?

Being from south of the Mason-Dixon, and descended from people who were, well, somewhat opposed to Grant, I'm probably a tad biased but it strikes me that you're probably unintentionally honoring Obama by diminishing Grant -- whatever Grant's faults, he actually did something before he got to fail as President.

We'll have to see if anybody owns Obama. He appears to me to be too canny an operator to become indebted in such a way that anybody could collect anything from him or his administration that he was not of his own volition prepared to give.

Whatever he is, he's quite a politician, and I think if he wants, he can tell whoever he wants that he doesn't know them for as long as he wants. Messiahs and Men of Destiny aren't wrong or culpable, EVER. It's always somebody else's fault ("oh if Obama only knew what his adviors were doing!"). A smart People's Leader always keeps somebody handy for throwing out the palace windows to the crowd. For the moment Bush's ghost will do nicely, but long run, the main candidates for high-jump bait will be Hillary, Robert Gates and Lawrence Summers.

Maybe he is a Momma's boy. That's not a problem per se. As an aside, it's amazing if you look back at some historical figures (good or bad) how often you see the dominant momma/absent or weak dad, with the prodigy or strong-willed son (e.g. Caesar, Napoleon and Lincoln).

You're absolutely right about foreign policy and the man probably being over his head. What worries me most about him is that he will almost certainly be underestimated by interlocutors. I mean, Obama came up through the Chicago machine, there's plenty of steel there -- there has to be. But Obama's instinct, and that of his party, is to negotiate and talk and conciliate and use "soft power."

When challenged, I'm worried that the challengers of Obama and America will expect too much dovishness, think that they will have things too much their own way. Inexperience on Obama's part may well manifest itself in an inability to weigh threats and responses at their correct value. But Obama will not like being pushed...and when he turns, and suddenly changes behavior, challengers will be shocked and surprised, and perhaps misjudge where the brink is. That's how you get really big wars.

As for concerns about what he'll do domestically, I'm not ready to panic yet. There are enough problems already on the table without dwelling too much on horribles that haven't happened yet.

LFC said...

I am not surprised to learn that Dymphna is associated with Gates of Vienna. I have no idea what her reference to Obama's "militia" is supposed to mean. He has not proposed the creation of a militia, as far as I'm aware. Such a proposal would be of dubious legality in any case.

hank_F_M said...

Hi Dymphna. Well said.

El Jefe

Obama's moderate appointments seem to be in foreign relations defense and finance, his social program appointments seem to be further left. But his intersts have been mostly social programs and he not been very interested in the other areas so he accpts the consensus opnion.

Obama has always run as far to the left as he could with out hurting himself politically. He has a lot of dues to pay but I expect he will slide left as he gets firmer control of his administration. Of course his political career so far has been as a hack for the Chicago machine; whether or not he has the ability slide it left is the question. The irony is that if he doesn’t he probably will not do a good job national security and the economy.


“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded,”

I sort of figured it was a throw away proposal like a proposal for a Department of Peace to make the left fringe happy. But if it is a serious proposal it is the type thing that historically in other countries has been used as political police.

But you are right it would be of vary doubtful constitionality if one is a strict constructionist /original intent person.

And check out the Gates, Dymphna and the Baron always treats polite objections politely. And they could use a few counter points.

LFC said...

Hank: Thanks for the Obama quote, I had not been aware of it. Your point on the Gates is noted. My one fairly recent visit there coincided with a discussion of Islam in Holland that I found somewhat extreme (for lack of a better word), but I should not judge a blog on one visit.