Friday, October 9, 2009

President of the World

April Fool's Day in October! President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize?
For what?
Clearly so that the Nobel Committee can gloat that the US President is Not Bush (nominations were due 1 February, so what else could it be?) Giving an "attaboy" to Obama for his kumbaya kaffee klatch foreign policy of apologizing to everybody for everything (in the modern Euro manner) is no doubt high on the list too.
I wonder if Obama will travel to Oslo to accept the award? He would probably like to: the man seems to enjoy the company of Europeans and world celebrities more than he does tending to the business of legislation and government in Washington.
During the late campaign, Obama often appeared as an unknown, unknowable, distant figure, a man who kept everyone at arms length; a robot which his handlers could program with happy talk and point at useful groups of voters; and a screen on which the credulous could project their good wishes for whatever different future was appealing at the moment. Not for nothing did Obama use appeals to "hope" as a campaign theme.
Now that we are learning more about Obama the man, he increasingly seems seems dreadfully miscast as President of the United States. The office of President combines the roles of Head of State (think of the British Monarch) -- the greater of foreign visitors, the host of state dinners, who appears at ceremonies and serves as the face of the state to the world; and of Prime Minister. The Prime Minister does the real work of government -- produces legislation, presides over the cabinet, tends to the construction and maintenance of a political coalition to do all this -- and positively enjoys the nuts-and-bolts of figuring out what Senator X wants to vote for Project Y.
Obama, clearly, has nothing of the Prime Minister about him. He is in such trouble on health care (supposedly a main legislative priority) because he largely ignored the nuts and bolts -- trusting Pelosi and Reid to do it for him. A similar condition obtains on environmental legislation. Obama appears to neither know about, nor have any interest in, the production of legislation. Contrast Obama with Clinton -- whatever problems Slick Willie had as Head of State -- he certainly understood how to be Prime Minister.
But Obama, who cannot bear to get his hands dirty with government, is not much of a Head of State either, at least of the United States. America is, perhaps, too small; too parochial a stage for him? Obama clearly wants to appeal to a larger audience. Obama doesn't really want to be President of the United States. To Obama, haring-off to Copenhagen to hob-nob with the Olympic committee is much more important than spending an afternoon with Senator Snodgrass of Noplace to grub for his vote or staying in a room with General McChrystal for more than 25 minutes. If rubes in Texas and Missouri can't stand Obama, what of it? What is the approval of uneducated, unsophisticated American nobodies next to the approbation of the Worldwide Great and Good?
This will end badly. There is even an element of personal tragedy in it: Obama is more of a Secretary-General of the UN -- more a world conscience type than he is a President of the United States. But that's not what he's being paid for. What will he do when the rubes figure him out?


Roy said...

Been away from the blogosphere for while. Thanks for welcoming me back with some much-needed truth.

LFC said...

"kumbaya kaffee klatch foreign policy" --
nice alliteration.

As for the rest of the post, I think you way overemphasize Obama's dislike of legislation and the legislative process (he has shown himself entirely capable of knocking heads on the Hill when necessary and will be doing this on health care from now till passage, I suspect.) He "doesn't really want to be Pres. of the U.S."?!? Then he why did he run? Why didn't he stay in the Senate, become an expert on foreign affairs, and then jump to the UN bureaucracy? The fact is Obama is engaged in domestic affairs and understands that a strong economy/society is a prerequisite for a fully effective foreign policy.
Should he have gotten the peace prize? Probably not, but then he had nothing to do with it; he didn't evn known he'd been nominated. His Cairo speech and certain other initiatives are important, and the decision to stop the Czech/Polish missile shield was right.

thekid47 said...

Still searching for that "much-needed truth" in the blog.

A lot of this does sound familiar, though -- dislike of legislation and the legislative process -- George "Asleep-at-the-Wheel" Bush would've taken 4 vacations to Arooba (his spelling, not mine) by now. He didn't want to be President, either, until he got that phone call from Scalia and Cheney took the job on Day 2.

And don't forget the much-touted "cornerstone of his second term" -- Social Security Reform. He was so pitiful at explaining it to the hand-picked Town Meeting rubes that they had to pull him back from the stump in shame.

Ahh, those were the days, eh?