Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our President: petty, petulant, and obnoxius

Chicago Tribune (Larry Dowing, Reuters /October 25, 2013)
I have gone into some detail previously on the pettiness of the current denizen of the White House, on the near-constant aura of condescension that pervades his speeches, his press briefings, even his State of the Union Addresses. Back in May of 2012, I noted just how un-Presindential Obama had been through much of his first term, just how badly he fared in this regard when compared to past Presidents like Reagan, Carter, and even Bush (George W.):
From the beginning of his Presidency, Obama has been snippy, petty, and condescending towards his political opponents, towards officials who dare to disagree with him, and--worst of all--towards everyday American citizens...

In contrast, I look at Reagan and Carter and see men who--regardless of how one sees their actual performance in office--carried themselves with the dignity the office demands, the dignity we should expect from out Chief Executive. I think George W. Bush behaved admirably in this regard as well, though I know there is a large segment of the population who rejoices in labeling him a fool, in mocking his conduct. Still, I think people would be hard-pressed to point out specific instances where Bush acted less-than-Presidentially.
Remember some of his greatest (worst) moments from that first term? Chiding Supreme Court Justices during a State of the Union Address, trying to intimidate the same when Obamacare came before the Court, singling out private citizens like Rush Limbaugh in remarks, mocking the first wave of the Tea Party movement, and on and on and on, Obama set a very low benchmark for civility, for class and decorum. Of course, his sycophants in the media and his legions of fanboys tried to justify all of this behavior. Really, they applauded it without a second thought. Why? Because in their minds, Obama was the victim, was getting far worse treatment from those he treated with disdain and contempt (I've never been clear about their argument with regard to the Court, but then neither have they).

As I am so often pointing out, however, such people have no sense of history. Both Carter and Reagan caught all kinds of flak while in the Oval Office. George W. Bush caught even more. Yet all three managed to hold themselves above the pettiness. At best, they'd simply refuse to go down to such a level. At worst, they'd allow others in their administrations to return fire when it came to mudslinging. They did this because they--all of them--understood their roles and respected the office of the Presidency, knew that whomever held it should, above all else, do so with dignity.

Herr Professor seems to have no qualms in being undignified as a matter of course. At the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn, New York yesterday, Obama said the following (my boldface):
Now, some of these ideas I’ve laid out before; some of them I’m just going ahead and doing on my own. Some of them do require Congress to do something. And one way we can start is by Congress passing a budget that reflects our need to invest in our young people. I know that budgets aren’t the most interesting topic for a Friday afternoon, even at a school where young people like math. And, by the way, I just sat in on a lesson called “real-world math,” which got me thinking whether it’s too late to send Congress here for a remedial course.  
But a budget is important, because what a budget does is it sets our priorities. It tells us what we think is important, what our priorities are. And the stakes for our middle class could not be higher. If we don’t set the right priorities now, then many of you will be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries.
I realize there is now an almost completely adversarial relationship between Obama and the House, but that doesn't excuse this kind of pointless jab in my opinion. It was an utterly tasteless remark, an utterly pointless one as well. What could it possibly achieve, aside from a few laughs? The President is fond of saying that he's willing to compromise, to sit down and talk with his political adversaries, but why should those adversaries--who are all in Congress--take him seriously when he says things like this?

Beyond that, note the second paragraph. The President is right: a budget IS important. But it's his number one boy in the Senate--Harry Reid-- that consistently failed to deliver a budget for years. And we all know what part of the Congress he's talking about with the jab, don't we? Yet it's the other part, the Democrats, who have failed in the budget process. And it's still the Democrats in Congress (and some Republicans) and Obama himself who can't do math, who can't grasp the problem of always spending more than you take in.

The issue of actual real-world math aside--of which the Administration can't even begin to claim any sort of basic understanding--the nastiness of the President's remark is just unacceptable in my opinion. Whatever political differences the Chief Executive has with members of Congress, they are not sufficient to allow this kind of second-rate insult from the leader of the nation, the supposed leader of the free world. The President has to be better than this, even if he or she is subjected to similar insults. That's the nature of the job; rising above the fray goes with the territory. Or at least it should. Obama seems to be sinking into the gutter. Again.

Cheers, all.

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