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April 27, 2011

Dana Milbank: I Think The Problem Is That Obama's Just Too Darned Smart To Be Politically Effective

This is not new. This is the media's go-to explanation for Democrats who fail. They're always too elevated, too noble, too high-minded, and too smart to compete effectively with the crude but effective single-minded stupid evil of the Republicans (or of the voters).

The fault, dear Brutus, lies not with us, but with the stars. (Corrected -- I wrote "Horatio." Thanks to Dave in Garfield Ridge.)

Jennifer Rubin questions this pleasing fantasy liberals just can't let go of.

[Quoting Milbank:] Seeking a template to understand the enigmatic president, I consulted three leading academics in the fields of psychology and behavior. With their help, I put Obama on the couch and came away with a reasonably coherent diagnosis: There’s too much going on in the poor guy’s head.

Gee, would these "leading academics" be among the 90% of academics who enthusiastically supported Obama for president-slash-godhead?

[Quoting Milbank:]Obama’s strengths and weaknesses come from his high degree of “integrative complexity” — his ability to keep multiple variables and trade-offs in mind simultaneously. The integratively simple thinker — say, George W. Bush — has one universal organizing principle that dominates all others, while the integratively complex thinker — Obama — balances many competing goals.

Oh, God. Didn't David Brooks just propose this "Obama's just too complex a man with multiple identities, each true and real" idea? Yeah, he did.

Does Milbank credit this stupid idea he pitched to his buddies aka "leading academics" to have originated with David Brooks? No.

Milbank says the same crap Brooks did but passes it off as his original thought.

Anyway, Rubin responds:

hate to be prosaic about this, but what is the evidence that Obama is a complex guy? ( None of the three gurus have met or actually diagnosed him, of course, and I’d bet, just a wild guess here, that they are liberal Democrats who just think he is swell.)

After all, Obama has not blazed new political or policy trails as Bill Clinton did. He’s written no scholarly books (sorry, memoirs don’t count). His understanding of the Middle East has been so slight and his strategy so misguided that there are no Israeli -Palestinian peace talks, and we have been spectacularly unsuccessful in stopping the hegemonic aspirations of Iran. I mean, isn’t it just as likely that Obama’s a garden-variety liberal with poor decision-making skills?

She notes that Obama shares another connection to Jimmy Carter -- liberals attempted to explain his many failures in this way as well.

I never said Bill Clinton wasn't quite intelligent. In both glib cleverness (what most media types understand as "intelligent," as that's the type of intelligence they have too, to the extent they have any) and a piling heap of animal cunning. Not much actual deep intellect, but few politicians have that.

We knew Clinton was smart because he was a Rhodes Scholar, among many other examples. Sure, he got a political recommendation on that from a Senator, but there can be little doubt that of all the boys in Arkansas, Clinton was among the dozen or twenty smartest.

That's smart. Arkansas isn't a huge state but whenever you're among the tops in any geographical location, you're smart.

Now, what about Obama? There is no strong record of academic achievement. He was known as lightweight when he got his political berth as a guest lecturer at the U of C. He has never said anything profound or intellectual.

Rubin's right. Obama is not complex. He's simple. He's a lefty. Clinton was too (though not as much) but Clinton had "negative capability," which is what liberals always claim that makes someone brilliant (because they also claim that conservatives are too hidebound and numb-skulled to have).

Obama, on the other hand, is a true believer, and is dedicated only to two principles:

1, his own awesomeness,


2, "New Left" style neosocialism.

Complex? If "complexity" is defined by frequent betrayals of a mainstream politics, wasn't Busch "complex"?

He pushed for amnesty and the prescription drug benefit. He greatly increased government spending.

Isn't he complex?

Nope, only Obama. Obama fucks the country up left and right and rather than concede he's a simple fuck-up, we get this jazz about his genius and "integrative complexity."

Release the Transcripts

We are ready -- nay, eager -- to be impressed.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:18 PM

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