How many ridiculous excuses can the left come up with for Obama’s poor debate performance?
(Note: I sent a follow-up
to Franke-Ruta clarifying the issues.)
An e-mail I sent today:
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Dear Miss Ruta:
You write that Obama did badly in the debate because he’s so preoccupied and worn down by being president that he has no energy or enthusiasm left for campaigning. This is one the silliest things I’ve read in politics recently. As anyone can see from watching him, the man is a campaigning machine. His main energies, his best energies, go into campaigning. Normally on the campaign trail, he is a shining star. Your thesis that the poor dear can’t campaign successfully because he is so exhausted by the cares of the presidency—and especially, as you emphasize, by the wars and other problems in the Mideast—will not fly. No. What he couldn’t do successfully, at least on this occasion, was debate against an intelligent, aggressive opponent. That’s a truth that it would be very difficult for you to acknowledge.
View from the Right
Some further thoughts. My guess is that Franke-Ruta’s excuse for Obama is an expression of her liberal mindset. To liberals, and especially to liberal women, war is something irrational and horrible that should never occur under any circumstances. Therefore to be responsible for the conduct of a war must break down any sensitive decent person. Because Franke-Ruta cannot imagine herself leading a war without being wrecked by it, she can’t imagine anyone else leading a war without being wrecked by it. So she blames Iraq and Afghanistan for Obama’s putative mental exhaution, even though, in reality, the U.S. involvement in Iraq has ended and Obama during his four years as president has put very, very little attention into those conflicts.
In short (if my guess is correct), her thesis is simply a projection, lacking any rational or objective content.
I was led to Franke-Ruta’s article by Byron York at the Washington Examiner, who also linked an article by leftist Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast on the same subject. Why, Tomasky asks, did Obama perform so indifferently in the debate, as well as in his acceptance speech and in a recent Sixty Minutes interview? Tomasky, like Franke-Ruta, suggests that Obama is tired of the presidency. But why? Here’s his theory:
[I]t’s that the reality of his term is undoubtedly so different, and so much worse, than the presidency he envisioned for himself. There’s no doubt that he did envision himself as transformational. Almost everything that had happened in his life before becoming president—succeeding at everything, often leaving observers in awe of him—clearly suggested to him that he’d conquer the presidency. He also believed, I think really genuinely believed, that he was and could be a post-partisan figure. He thought this because he wasn’t a product of the ’60s, and he said so explicitly on occasion, noting at one point in 2008 that we didn’t need to “relitigate the ’60s” anymore.
Well, maybe he didn’t. But someone did. Conservatives did, because they believe that’s when it all went sour, and for them, it’s good for business besides. I doubt Obama had ever been hated by anybody in his life. Now, 40 or so million Americans hate him. Must be stunning to him, still.
Got that? Obama really, really wanted to be a post-partisan president, but he has not been able to be such a president, because of the hatred conservatives have for him. Obama has lost his zest for the job because of conservative hatred.
The reality is the exact opposite. Many people, including many conservatives, expected Obama to be post-partisan and centrist, and rejoiced at his election, but were shocked when, as soon as he assumed the office, he tacked hard to the left, with the stimulus and then Obamacare. For example, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin voted for Obama, on the (foolish and inexcusable) belief that he was a centrist, was subsequently stunned by Obama’s hard-left policies as president, and became a total opponent of Obama.
Another example is David Horowitz, who celebrated the start of Obama’s presidency, seeing it as the birth of a new, wonderful America in which nonwhites, sharing whites’ “conservative” values, would participate in and identify with the American culture as much as whites. On the day of Obama’s inauguration Horowitz wrote: “Conservative values—individual responsibility, equal opportunity, racial and ethnic pluralism, and family—are now symbolically embedded in the American White House.” But within a few months Horowitz realized to his chagrin that Obama was a hard leftist and turned against him.
Can Tomasky claim that such disappointed Obama supporters—and now fierce Obama opponents—as Goodwin and Horowitz (and there are many more like them) have been been motivated, from the instant of Obama’s becoming president, by hatred of a post-partisan Obama?
Further, it wasn’t just Obama’s policies that defied the positive expectations of his presidency, but his personality. I myself have written about how surprised I was, not by Obama’s leftism, but by how the pleasing and charming sides of his personality disappeared when he became president, and he turned outright nasty and unpleasant.
Thus Tomasky’s theory, like Franke-Ruta’s, is a liberal-left projection. He imagines a world of blameless, virtuous leftists like himself, and the only reason things go wrong for them is those horrible, horrible conservatives.
Now Tomasky does not mention race as a reason for conservative hatred of Obama, but of course others on the left do, regularly. Therefore I think that one of the liberal excuses for Obama’s poor performance in the debate will be that he was worn down by American racism. He wanted to be a post-racial president, but those racist white conservatives just wouldn’t let him be one, and so the man’s heart is broken.
A commenter at Tomasky’s article makes the same point as I about who was it who spoiled the post-partisan dream:
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He threw away any and all pretenses of being post-partisan when he was in his second week in office and invited the Republicans up to the White House and waited for the GOP to state the amendments they would like to attach to the bill. Obama said absolutely not, because “I won.” Obama poisoned the well from that point on. Apparently in Obama’s mind compromise means doing everything I want and you evil Republicans just vote for my bill so I can have cover when the miserable undoubtily fails. He never had any intention of working with the Republicans. Liberals are out of their mind if they try to blame Obama’s failures on anyone but himself. But I said this back in 2010. He hates the job of being president. He only likes the notoriety, fame and recognition. Throwing lavish parties with celebrities. But the whole governing part? He hates it….. There was reports that during meetings with generals talking about the day to day operations overseas he wasn’t paying attention, doodling in his notebook. Why the left refuses to look at what’s right in front of them, I do not know. He doesn’t want another term, but he doesn’t want his legacy to be that of Jimmy Carter….. Read that last paragraph again. It’s about himself, he could care less about the country. He knows the economy will remain the dumps if he is re-elected. He just doesn’t care, he rather win a second term and go back to hosting celebrities.
Paul K. writes:
The most imaginative excuse I’ve seen for Obama’s poor performance in the debate was that he was struck dumb by the audacity of Romney’s lies. This, from a president who lies with the best of them!
Terry Morris writes:
Paul K. hasn’t put enough thought into the theory of Obama’s dejection based on Romney lies, even as he has inadvertently hit on the answer.
Clearly Obama was distraught to find that his opponent is a better liar than even he himself is. He must have been thinking—during several of those interludes in which he appeared disjointed and confused at his podium while Romney was ripping his heart out with greater, more elaborate lies than Obama could even fathom—“but I’m supposed to be the Liar-in-Chief!”
See the recent VFR entry on how whites are smarter, better debaters than blacks. Turns out we’re better liars too. Way better! It’s a deadly combination. ;-)
Not only is Mr. Morris’s comment funny, it also echoes exactly what the writers and commenters at the leftist Daily Kos were saying right after the debate: that Romney had lied so outrageously that Obama (the biggest liar in American history) was stunned by the lies and didn’t know how to reply. Maybe that’s the best theory after all. :-)
Michael Tomasky’s comments regarding President Obama track with your recurring observation that liberals simply view their positions as nonideological and reasonable, and view conservative positions as outside the realm of acceptable discourse.
While I have not read it, I appreciate the theme of Jonah Goldberg’s recent book The Tyranny of Cliches for this reason, as he points out that today’s liberals continually deny that they adhere to any ideology. A definite improvement over his previous attempts to portray fascism as a left-wing phenomenon.
Also, Tomasky’s reference to “relitigating the ’60s” is another example of false liberal neutrality, although I am not sure what it has to do with Obama’s signature legislative initiatives. Obviously what he means is that nothing that came out of the ’60s should be subject to any scrutiny or criticism, and anyone who does so is simply living in the past.
You see this in issues like the contraception mandate, where liberals argued that the Catholic Church’s position was irrational and as such they have no grounds to object. You also see it in less mainstream left-wing attempts to ban circumcision, which they also see as an outmoded practice where their eminently rational objections completely supersede Jewish religious belief.
I sent the entry to Garance Franke-Ruta, and she replied. She said I had misunderstood her point. She had not suggested that the Mideast wars had broken Obama down, but that they had hardened him, making him less able to appeal to people as he had in 2008.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 07, 2012 02:38 PM | Send
I replied to her:
Thanks for the reply.
I see what you mean. You wrote in your article:
If Obama seems shut down, perhaps it is because he has to be to be who he is and do the job he needs to do day in and day out.
So you were saying that he’s shut down, rather than, as I characterized your view, that he’s “broken down” or “wrecked.”
However, in the article, quoting your previous article on the same subject, you also wrote:
Barack Obama will never be that man again….
If the man he once was has been “seared away,” well, that’s even worse than his being merely broken down; he has been destroyed.
Whoever Obama was when he was elected president has been seared away by two active wars, the more free-ranging fight against al-Qaeda, the worst economic crash since the Great Depression, and the endless grinding fights with Washington Republicans—and even, I am sure, activists in his own party.
And, what, according to you, destroyed him? The first two factors you name are: “two active wars, the more free-ranging fight against al-Qaeda … ”
So my characterization of your theory is correct. You’re saying that he has been broken down or wrecked or seared away by the terrible burdens of leading two active wars and the fight against al Qaeda—fights, which in reality, he has paid very little attention to.