March 15, 2011

He's So Tired

In Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing Saddles, Madeline Kahn brilliantly plays saloon singer and lady of loose morals, Lily VonSchtupp, “The Teutonic Titwilllow.” One of her most arresting bits is a song titled “I’m So Tired,” where she complains about the inevitable and entirely foreseeable effects of her chosen profession, quite obviously the oldest profession.

Much less humorous is the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who, according to the New York Times on March 11 (here), “...has told people that it would be so much easier to be president of China. As one official put it, ‘No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.’” No I imagine they’re not, not in a country where dissidents can be shot in the back of the head for such things and their families forced to pay for the cartridge.

Such longings for easier days and less complicated times are nothing new for Mr. Obama. His golf outings (more than 60 to date), command performance parties in the White House, and globe spanning vacations and “date nights” are the stuff of legend--at least in his own mind. But there are many previous indicators of Mr. Obama’s lack of preparation and fortitude, dating back to the beginning of his term in office. Several illustrative examples, by no means an exhaustive list, follow.

March 7, 2009: According to The Telegraph (here):

“Sources close to the White House say Mr. Obama and his staff have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.”

The article was written following the first visit of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the White House, a visit that marked the beginning of Mr. Obama’s serial insults of the British.

“Allies of Mr. Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr. Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk. A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr. Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr. Obama had failed so far to ‘even fake an interest in foreign policy.’”

A “Democratic Strategist” observed that:

“People say he looks more tired than they’re used to...He’s still calm, but there have been flashes of irritation when he thinks he’s being pushing to make a decision sooner than he wants to make it. He looks like he needs a cigarette.”

November 3, 2009: CBS News (here) observed:

“In the 12 months since his election a year ago tomorrow, President Obama has learned first hand it’s easier to run for president than to be president.”

Mr. Obama’s then press secretary, Robert Gibbs, weighed in:

“As one who gets to observe the president as a member of his inner circle, Gibbs says the job has proven to be harder and more exhausting than Mr. Obama expected.”

December 29, 2009: I Hate The Media (here) had this to say:

“After a sleepless, overnight flight to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, President Barack Obama made a not altogether surprising admission. He was tired.”

IHTM also made an interesting, helpful suggestion:

“Might we humbly offer a suggestion, Mr. President? If you’re really as tired as you say, take a nap every afternoon. Lay off the golf. And the photo shoots for all those magazine covers. And the appearance on all those TV shows. And the bowing to foreign dignitaries. Especially the bowing to foreign dignitaries.”

January 1, 2010: The Telegraph (here) weighed in on Mr. Obama’s appearance following his Hawaiian vacation:

“His care-free children Sasha and Malia were spotted smiling and playing with friends as they took to the water. But in sharp contrast, Mr Obama looked weary, as if the repeated interruptions to his family holiday had taken their toll.

He has had to address criticism over national security after it appeared that a lack of communication between government agencies allowed the Nigerian syringe bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab to attempt to blow up an airliner as it prepared to land in Detroit. He also faced the grim news that seven CIA operatives had been killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.”

Hmm. Didn’t Mr. Obama, you know, want the job in the first place? Did he expect it would all be hosannas to his glory and majesty, nothing but photographs with superimposed halos?

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, whose bust Mr. Obama unceremoniously dispatched back to English, a great man Mr. Obama would no doubt find “nothing special” in the same way that his administration described America’s “special relationship” with England, “never have so few whined so much to so many.” Yet, anyone familiar with Mr. Obama’s past should not be in the least surprised.

The most demanding work Mr. Obama has ever done in his life has been producing rhetoric. Rhetoric is the toolbox, the raw materials and the finished product of the community organizer, the hustler and the politician. As President, the production of rhetoric has been greatly simplified and reduced to mere teleprompter reading.

Even Mr. Obama has admitted that he could not tell close friends what he actually did as a community organizer, yet he did not do it for years, and apparently made sufficient money doing nothing to afford a very expensive home in one of Chicago’s most expensive neighborhoods. In fact, the only executive experience Mr. Obama ever had is known by few, yet it comprised six years of his life in Chicago. His only executive job was not mentioned by his presidential campaign, and with good reason.

In 1995, Bill Ayers, the unrepentant domestic terrorist, the University of Illinois at Chicago education professor, and a guy Mr. Obama--according to his PR flacks--knew only as some guy who lived in the same neighborhood, hired Barack Obama to be the Chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and worked closely with him for six years. The challenge was essentially a leftist organization established to spend money to implement radical socialist educational theories in the Chicago schools, ostensibly to better serve students who were being poorly served. Mr. Obama was the chairman until 1999, but remained a member of the board until the CAC became defunct through its own incompetence and ineffectiveness in 2001.

The funding for the venture came from the Annenberg Foundation, a major funding source for leftist social and political initiatives. In six years, according to the Annenberg Foundation’s postmortem audit, the CAC did not improve education, did not assist underserved children, and accomplished virtually nothing except burning through at least $50 million dollars. Little wonder the Obama campaign didn’t want Mr. Obama’s tenure there to be public knowledge. Long before he became president, he was already adept at wasting huge amounts of other people's money.

Even as the editor of the Harvard Law Review and during his tenure as a “law professor” at the University of Chicago, Mr. Obama produced no legal scholarship. In fact, he was never a professor, an academic distinction earned after many years of effort, but merely an occasional lecturer in a job created especially for him, a job for which he drew a salary, but apparently did little or nothing.

In his eight years as an Illinois state senator, Mr. Obama voted “present” 129 times, even on bills that passed nearly unanimously. He even voted present on bills he supported, and at least once, on a bill he actually sponsored! And during his approximately two years as a US Senator, Mr. Obama wrote no legislation of note, yet while running for the presidency virtually the entire time, managed to earn the title of the most liberal senator, a man to the left even of the only avowed Socialist in the Senate.

But he wrote two books, autobiographies (?!) for which he was handsomely paid! Not quite. His several autobiographers inadvertently included several inconvenient truths indicating that he did not, in fact, write either book, and Jack Cashill has convincingly argued that it was William Ayers who wrote his first book, “Dreams From My Father.” And by the way, who, as a young man of little documentable accomplishment, writes a single autobiography--which he didn’t actually write--let alone two?

To be absolutely fair, I’ve little doubt that few men can appreciate the demands of the presidency without having experienced them, yet in my 57 years, I cannot recall another president publicly complaining about the burdens of the office even once, an office each and every occupant--with the probable exception of George Washington--desperately wanted to win. Such complaining is not only bad manners, it is a sign of a lack of gratitude, a lack of appreciation of the efforts and support of others, it is a sign of debilitating narcissism, of a man for whom everything is all about him. It is excuse making in a man to whom the country and the world looks for guidance and results.

Is it any wonder that America is in such dire straits domestically and internationally? Mr. Obama knows only the discipline of rhetoric, and when any crisis arises, responds with his only tool: More rhetoric, for which he believes the American public and the world are breathlessly waiting. Should anyone be surprised when a man with no experience running anything other than a political campaign is unable to set priorities, formulate coherent policies and make decisions?

The facade is now being stripped away, stripped away by events, failed policies and fiscal and international realities. Mr. Obama isn’t failing to make decisions, to act because he’s so brilliant that he over thinks things, or because he sees nuance that mere mortals can’t hope to understand. He’s failing--and we’re all suffering for it--because he’s not up to the job, and he never was.

Being a politician is, I believe, the second oldest profession, and shares many things in common with the oldest. But the most important thing to remember is, that like Lily VonSchtupp, he’s so tired. We all ought to respect that and the reasons therefore, God and gun clinging ingrates that we are, and two years hence, help Mr. Obama have the time for the rest he so richly deserves.

Posted by MikeM at March 15, 2011 10:51 PM

To paraphrase Miss von Schtupp: "Let's face it. Evewything above the neck.... is kaput!"

Posted by: arb at March 15, 2011 11:17 PM

Of course he is surprised at and had no knowledge of how much work there is as President -- he was only in the Senate for two years before starting his campaign. That's not enough time to learn much about the business of government.

Posted by: MikeM_inMd at March 16, 2011 07:49 AM

William Ayers is NOT a professor at the University of Chicago. Until he retired, he taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Posted by: -1William Harms at March 16, 2011 09:10 AM

Dear -1Williams Harms:

Indeed he did. I've made the correction, and thanks for the catch! My apologies to all the University of Chicago Alums and boosters.

Posted by: mikemc at March 16, 2011 11:54 AM

Latin, plural.
There is no such thing as Alums...

Posted by: Odins Acolyte at March 17, 2011 12:05 PM

Dear Odin Acolyte:

"Alumnae," yes, but Alum or its plural have, over the past several decades, become acceptable colloquial English, particularly when used in more brief, non-formal settings. Thanks for the Latin point!

Posted by: mikemc at March 17, 2011 12:25 PM