Saturday, December 7, 2013

In JFK remembrances two historians explode the myth of Obama as inspirational.

No one intended it. It wasn't said to make a political point. It was said by two different accomplished presidential historians in two different  venues at two different times. But their message was the same. Obama is neither the inspirational leader that those who supported him in and out of the news media tried to convince themselves and others he was (and some still do) nor is he a president of any accomplishment.

When Obama ran for the Democratic nomination and later for president, many promoted Obama's speeches as examples of "soaring rhetoric" when, to anyone who was really paying attention, his speeches  said  little or nothing but used so many $20 words, people who couldn't think for themselves pretended they were meaningful and that they understood
While true profound ideas are expressed simply and with 10c words that express priceless ideas ( "do unto others as you would have others do unto you", "we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal" " I dream of a day when people will be judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin")  Obama used $20 words and meandering syntax to do what $20 words and meandering syntax are often meant to do -- cover up the fact that they are saying nothing real or of any value.

Robert Dallek the noted presidential historian in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, in assessing Kennedy's presidency and his ability to inspire wrote:  "compared with other recent presidents whose stumbles and failures have assaulted the national self-esteem, memories of Kennedy continue to give the country faith that its best days are still ahead".
Stumbles and failures that assault the national esteem are pretty harsh words. But given the presidencies of both Bush and Obama, those words are accurate.

Historian Douglas Brinkley,  in a television interview after listening to a reading of some of Kennedy's speeches at the Dallas memorial  event said: "We're looking for an inspirational leader like we had with Kennedy and now when we need one the most we can't find one."
About as harsh a criticism of Obama and what his "brand" was supposed to be as one can get. Though his brand, to anyone who was paying attention during the Democratic primary was more shady used car salesman than anything presidential.

Obviously Obama was not the only recent president Dallek was referring to since it's clear that both Bush and Obama share the honors.

Eight years of the George W. Bush presidency which included ignoring ample warnings of the 911 attacks which could have been prevented, the unnecessary war in Iraq  which was the result of intentional deception, the fiasco that was Katrina and the worst economic collapse since the depression, didn't make anyone feel warm and fuzzy about the Bush years.
But it was the Obama candidacy, and the Obama presidency to those who believed the empty rhetoric, that was supposed to be one of  inspiration. At least that's what the press and the slightly less than half of the Democratic party that made up Obama's supporters were trying to sell during the primaries.

Though there is no denying the symbolism of electing to the presidency a man who wouldn't have been able to get a cup of coffee at a southern lunch counter 50 years ago, aside from that, national inspiration was supposed to be Obama's biggest selling point. As both historians point, it doesn't exist.And never did.

Though neither historian had the intention of  exposing Obama as being far from the inspirational leader he and so many of his supporters pretended,  in a moment of total candor and honesty, and moved by the power and true inspiration of Kennedy's speeches like his speech on the value of the arts and how a country  that made the world a better place is more likely to be remembered for its art, literature and poetry than for its wars, and the Kennedy speech that defined the commitment and inspiration to go to the moon, the need to open new lines of communication with the Soviet Union to avoid nuclear war by recognizing the humanity of the people of each country, and his inauguration speech calling for sacrifice, the comparisons to what the country had then and what the country has now and what the country has been missing, for the last 13 years was too stark to ignore.

Since  both historians spoke spontaneously from the heart, its likely that what the political game show hosts on television like to refer to as "Obama's legacy" has already started to be written. And so far, once one gets past the obvious issue of race and what Obama's election meant on that score, it's not very pretty.

At a time when these historians and the country were once again appreciating Kennedy's inspirational words,  ideas and leadership, it's revealing of the state the country is in now that the words from Obama that people are quoting the most are:
 "If you like your health insurance you can keep it".


As if to underscore the point and how pointless comparing those two presidents are, in a minor but humorous, yet also telling episode that seems to repeat itself regularly, Obama is now backtracking and reversing a claim in 2011 that he never met or knew an uncle from Kenya who claimed Obama had stayed with him during a dispute the uncle was having with Immigration over being deported.

 Now we are told Obama admits that he does know the dear uncle, that he did in fact live with him when he began attending Harvard and gee, the whole thing was just some misunderstanding because, according to Jay Carney no one had actually asked Obama back in 2011 if he knew his uncle and simply put out the statement that he didnt on their own.

In essence saying to the uncle "ask not what the White House can do for you but what you can do for the White House". Meaning Obama says he is staying out of the dispute between his new found uncle and Immigration.


Anonymous said...

I remember listening to Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy standing on stage together and demeaningly telling women that "It's O.K. to vote for a man (referring to Obama, apparently). It was disgusting. Who did they think they were and who needed their OK? Neither of them had any personal accomplishments under their belts (now Caroline has been appointed by Obama to be Ambassador to Japan because of her foreign relations expertise? No? They were just related to people of accomplishment. Sound like what we fought the Revolutionary War to stop.

Marc Rubin said...

"I remember listening to Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy standing on stage together and demeaningly telling women that 'It's O.K. to vote for a man' (referring to Obama, apparently). It was disgusting,"

Just FYI,Politico reported at the time that Edward Kennedy had become furious with Hillary Clinton for a speech she gave attacking Obama's inexperience by pointing out that it took someone with the skill and accumen of an LBJ to get the Civil Rights bill passed. Sen. Kennedy felt Clinton had slighted JFK by not mentioning it was JFK's bill that Johnson passed (fair enough but it was still Johnson who arm twisted racist southern Democrats to vote for it).

Because of that percieved slight, according to Politico, the Kennedy's swung all their support to Obama.Supposedly for that reason and only that reason.

Anonymous said...

I believe it. Petty, and the rest of us have had to pay.