Sunday, October 28, 2012

The 'New' Obama . . .

President Obama
Michael Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
The Star

Jonathan Schell's article "Barack Obama has been brutalized by the presidency" (The Star, October 24, 2012) is the most insightful analysis of Obama's character that I've read in a long time. In response to some who claimed that the 'old' Obama was back after he had recovered the energy lacking in his lethargic first performance debating Romney, Schell demurs:
The Obama on display in the second debate -- and the third -- was harder, chillier, sadder, and more sombre. There was tension in the lines of his mouth. His speech was clipped, as if under continuous rigorous control. His rhetoric did not soar, could not soar. The smile was rare and constrained.

But his command of detail and argument was rock solid. His sentences parsed. He spoke with a cold, disciplined energy. In repose (as witnessed on the split screen in the reaction shots) he was often perfectly immobile, almost stony, as if posing for a portrait.

One word for all of this would be "presidential," in the sense of competent, seasoned, and sobered by reality. But that word also connotes the fearsome qualities of ruthlessness and brutality that any honest portrayal of the office of president of the United States must include in our day. Obama has inhabited the White House for four years; now the White House inhabits him.
The Obama schooled in reconciliation -- schooled in that through his own search for identity as one born and raised between races and between cultures -- has "gone forever," re-schooled and re-skilled in . . .
. . . violence and suppression of rights: drone strikes that have killed children as well as terrorists, the futile "surge" in Afghanistan, the continued operation of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, reliance on military tribunals, an unprecedented campaign against whistle blowers, and the assertion of a right to order the assassination of foreigners and Americans alike at his sole discretion.
Schell doesn't voice this word, but it's a postmodern tragedy: Obama, the man who would reconcile, confronted by "the long war" with an implacable foe and constrained to make pragmatic decisions that go against the grain of an identity he himself constructed, decisions that have shaved away so much of that old identity that only the hardest core remains.

No wonder he hates being the President. Who would ever want to be king?



At 5:11 AM, Blogger Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

At 5:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Does one need an invitation?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:22 AM, Blogger dhr said...

(back to the post issue)

. . . Ay me, they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vaine,
Under what torments inwardly I groane;
While they adore me on the Throne of Hell,
With Diadem and Scepter high advanc'd
The lower still I fall, onely Supream
In miserie . . .

At 6:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...


Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Crude said...

More like Obama, who spent his political life being coddled because (so long as he was in front of a teleprompter) he could make a moving speech, found out that 'moving speeches' actually didn't do much to solve most problems. Suddenly being president didn't mean 'Everyone talks about how charming and thoughtful I am'. In fact, sometimes plenty of people will (finally!) be angry with your stupid decisions.

Obama was never 'schooled in reconciliation'. He was schooled in manipulating rubes. Luckily for him, plenty of rubes still think he's doing a great job.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I disagree. I think Obama had a tough life and overcame adversity through self-discipline. I think he saw himself as a reconciler, too, but discovered the hard way that some foes are implacable. He's lost his idealism and doesn't like his job. But he's not the sort of person who accepts defeat, either, so he keeps on going. I don't know that that's a good thing . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:54 PM, Blogger dhr said...

(back to the off-topic)

Does one need an invitation?

:-D :-D :-D

At 4:02 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

As the better Marx said, "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member!"

Jeffery Hodges

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