Free Markets, Free People
Frank Rich desperately tries to explain Obama
Frank Rich is thrashing around for an answer – a way to explain Barack Obama’s presidency to this point. His latest excuse for the presidency’s inadequacies and incompetence is …. the Stockholm syndrome.
THOSE desperate to decipher the baffling Obama presidency could do worse than consult an article titled “Understanding Stockholm Syndrome” in the online archive of The F.B.I. Law Enforcement Bulletin. It explains that hostage takers are most successful at winning a victim’s loyalty if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness. Soon enough, the hostage will start concentrating on his captors’ “good side” and develop psychological characteristics to please them — “dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think.”
Where he ends up, of course, is trying to explain away Obama’s ‘baffling’ performance and apparently the best he could come up with this week is likening him to a hostage who ends up identifying with his captors. Here, at its tortured best, is Frank Rich trying to make that stretch:
No sooner did he invite the G.O.P.’s Congressional leaders to a post-election White House summit meeting than they countered his hospitality with a slap — postponing the date for two weeks because of “scheduling conflicts.” But they were kind enough to reschedule, and that was enough to get Obama to concentrate once more on his captors’ “good side.”
And so, as the big bipartisan event finally arrived last week, he handed them an unexpected gift, a freeze on federal salaries. Then he made a hostage video hailing the White House meeting as “a sincere effort on the part of everybody involved to actually commit to work together.” Hardly had this staged effusion of happy talk been disseminated than we learned of Mitch McConnell’s letter vowing to hold not just the president but the entire government hostage by blocking all legislation until the Bush-era tax cuts were extended for the top 2 percent of American households.
The captors will win this battle, if they haven’t already by the time you read this, because Obama has seemingly surrendered his once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think.
I saw the last sentence and I immediately wondered what “once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think” Rich was talking about? I’m sorry but I’m coming up empty in that department. Certainly nothing he did prior to the presidency identified any of those “abilities”. And few can argue – apparently Rich included – that he’s demonstrated them while the President. So I’d have to ask Mr. Rich – what “once-considerable abilities” are you talking about? Examples, please.
Here’s a thought – maybe, like many of us said, he’s never had those abilities. If Frank Rich, an long time Obama lap dog, can’t come up with a list of instances in which Obama has demonstrated those abilities, maybe they always were, well, myths. Those “abilities” were “hopes” that those who wanted to put a man in the White House about whom they knew virtually nothing “hoped” would be realized. I mean the guy can give a hell of a speech, can’t he?
In fact, Rich is finally led to the same conclusion:
The cliché criticisms of Obama are (from the left) that he is a naïve centrist, not the audacious liberal that Democrats thought they were getting, and (from the right) that he is a socialist out to impose government on every corner of American life. But the real problem is that he’s so indistinct no one across the entire political spectrum knows who he is. A chief executive who repeatedly presents himself as a conciliator, forever searching for the “good side” of all adversaries and convening summits, in the end comes across as weightless, if not AWOL. A Rorschach test may make for a fine presidential candidate — when everyone projects their hopes on the guy. But it doesn’t work in the Oval Office: These days everyone is projecting their fears on Obama instead.
There you go. A “sophisticated” member of the liberal elite (and he’s obviously not the only one) who revels in characterizing the opposition naïve and irresponsible is found to be among the naïve and irresponsible. In fact, what that group projected on the Obama the presidential candidate was insanely naïve and almost criminally irresponsible. And that led to the book on how to pick a president being thrown out the window and version 2.0 was written on the fly.
Result? Empty suit who looks good and can give a good speech. The perfect Hollywood president who has his scripts written for him and in the celluloid world, really doesn’t have to do anything or accomplish anything to be a star. To bad that doesn’t work in the real world, huh Frank?
Yes, version 2.0 said “we don’t need experience or leadership, that’s what advisors are for, all we need is someone who looks and acts like a president.” How’s that working out for you?
Of course Obama is as complicit in this as anyone in this. A junior senator for Illinois, where as a state senator he compiled a sparse record of accomplishment, Obama never even finished his first term in the Senate before seeking the presidency. And the Frank Rich’s of the world were giddy at the thought and lavish with their praise and support.
Well, v 2.0 has crashed. Big time. It’s a flop. And all the political code monkeys in the world can’t resurrect it. Because there was never enough substance or experience there to ever make it work in the first place. Obama is the WYSIWYG president and most folks taking a long hard look at him today aren’t seeing much they like or want to keep.
And it isn’t going to get any better. He wasn’t even able to control his own space when he had overwhelming majorities in Congress. Anyone who thinks he can do better with a Republican majority in the House and a much narrower majority in the Senate need to make an early appointment for psychiatric help.
Interestingly, Rich spends much of the column praising NJ Governor Chris Christie and his leadership style. There’s a pathetic longing evident in Rich’s writing. A longing for a Christie-type Democrat in the White House right about now. It is just as obvious he knows he’ll never see it, at least from the present occupant.
Hey, Frank baby – this one is yours. You and your liberal buddies chose him. You threw all the normal conventions used to pick an accomplished leader for president out the window because Obama, at least on the surface, was the PC liberal candidate from heaven. He gave you a chance to assuage your white guilt and show the world how much you and the rest of liberal America had grown up. Well, Mr. Rich, you got exactly what you deserve.
Live with it.
Unfortunately, thanks to you and your kind, we have to as well.