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January 06, 2014

Anonymous Former White House Official: Hey, Maybe Obama Just Isn't Any Good at Governing

That's racist.

"I talked to a former Obama White House person, just before Christmas, when Obama was sort of adrift, figuring out what to do, his poll numbers were pretty low. And he said, 'Look, the president needs to find an issue to campaign on. This is what he's good at. He's really good at campaigning. Maybe not governing,' according to this Democrat," Hamby said this morning on CNN.

You had me at "Maybe not governing."

Video at the link.

Obama, like many of the overpromoted, underachieving members of his class, is a glittering mediocrity.

It might seem ridiculous to psychoanalyze the President based upon his television viewing, but then again, the New York Times did exactly that, divining, in each of Obama's predictable choices, a Heroic Narrative of a searching intellect.

Well, Matthew Continetti is willing to play the game too. And his takeaway is that Obama has a mind notable primarily for how mundane it is.

In “Obama’s TV Picks — Anything Edgy, With Hints of Reality,” Shear reports that the president, whose “life in the Oval Office” is marked by “war, terrorism, economic struggle,” and “mass shootings,” has a taste, “in his few quiet moments,” not for situation comedy but for drama. He indulges this taste by watching copious amounts of television.


Shear clearly had a thesis in mind when he sat down to write. His article is an argument in search of evidence. He seems to think Obama’s taste in television reveals a tragic sense of life, a Niebuhrian realism that informs the administration’s domestic and international agenda. Shows that undermine this idea, such as sports and comedies, are downplayed. Dramas with antiheroes, violence, conspiracies, and sex are emphasized.


One’s favorite movies, television shows, books, and music may not provide deep insights into one’s psychology or politics or point of view, but they do specify the consumer profile under which one falls.... [Obama's television viewing choices] are utterly typical of the American educated class.

Obama's favorite shows are as pedestrian and predictable as you can imagine. Progressive favorite Parks & Recreation, Mad Men, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, Game of Thrones. It's the exact same list that every member of the New Class would proudly declared to "love" (after first prefacing the statement with "I never watch television, but...").

Most of them are on cable or premium channels, where people who think they're intellectual can watch TV without worrying about being a couch potato. (Remember, it's not TV -- it's HBO.)

They're also mostly variations on soap operas, but disguised with some violence and sex so as to be distinct from the Guiding Light.

Most of these shows appeal most strongly to women.

Homeland, Game of Thrones, House of Cards — these are the latest distractions of the well-schooled echelon of society that toils in high positions in finance, academia, media, and the bureaucracy, that binge-watches fashionable shows with determination and marathon-runner stamina, that discusses over dinner recent articles in the New York Times Magazine or The New Yorker, that laments rising inequality during vacations in tropical locales. To watch such programs is not a sign of critical acumen but of social status. The audience of these cable dramas is wealthy not only in dollars but also in cultural currency: in the ability to detect and adapt to the rise and fall of reputations, to restate the latest critical judgments, to fashion one’s subjective tastes into a coherent and ideological whole. That Barack Obama watches the same television shows as a reader of the New York Times must add an extra thrill, a dash of self-importance, to the experience of being a couch potato. Obama is so much cooler than Republican presidents, after all.


Anyone who can make it through the piece should conclude that the president is neither a Communist nor a Muslim but a conventional and rather unexciting Bobo, a middle-aged parent of two who unwinds, in between golf and games of pickup basketball, in the accustomed manner of his caste. Ironic, isn’t it: A man whose senses of ego and ambition are continually inflated by his rivals, his supporters, and himself is just another member of a comfortable and confused elite, enjoying television on his large, high-definition set, watching movies in his private screening room, and eating fine cuisine in the most fashionable restaurants while brooding over the prospect of American decline.

I have never known a man in all of history to be so frequently and passionately hailed as a genius, with such an utter lack of any evidence to support such a claim.

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posted by Ace at 07:13 PM

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