Obama’s Iranian Hostage Crisis
© Jack Cashill
Almost from the day the oil started gushing in the Gulf of Mexico, conservative pundits were describing the problem as “Obama’s Katrina.”
In a vacuum, this would not have seemed strictly fair, given that there was nothing about the gusher itself or Obama’s initial response to it that would have merited his ownership.
Five years earlier, however, Democratic loyalists and their media allies had for the first time in history bestowed ownership of a hurricane on a president, and they did this even before Katrina made landfall.
After the hurricane hit, this same unholy cabal largely exempted the Democratic mayor and governor from responsibility and attributed all their failures, as well as the routine shortcomings of any federal operation, to President Bush personally.
By the time the media finished slicing and dicing Bush they had people in New Orleans thinking that Karl Rove had blown up the dikes and Bush himself, in the memorable words of singer Kanye West, had given the military “permission to go down and shoot us."
So Republican turn-around in assigning blame is certainly fair play. Besides, if Obama did not deserve blame for the leak itself, Obama has come to own the administration’s futile response.
Critics continue, however, to use the wrong metaphor to describe his pickle. This is no longer “Obama’s Katrina.” This is “Obama’s Iranian Hostage Crisis.” The Katrina folly ended after a few days. Today, on day 40-something and counting, this is the folly that keeps on embarrassing.
Jimmy Carter can sympathize. For the 444 unhappy days after his new Islamic friends seized our embassy and took the workers hostage, the media microscope zoomed in on his presidential warts.
Although Carter was never much fun to begin with, he could allow himself none while his misunderstood buddies humiliated him and us before the world. The crisis eventually cost him the presidency.
Now, this crisis is magnifying the weaknesses of Obama’s presidency, one of which is his fatal reliance on what is sometimes called “Maslow's hammer.” Said psychologist Abraham Maslow some years back, "It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
Given that Obama like so many prominent Democrats—Michelle, both Clintons, Kerry, the late Ted Kennedy, John Edwards—is a lawyer surrounded by other lawyers, the tool he has at hand is the lawsuit.
Accordingly, from day one, Obama has spent his energy not on fixing the problem, but on fixing the blame. He seems to have no greater goal than finding someone to sue or maybe, if AG Eric Holder gets lucky, even imprison.
But unlike health care reform or financial regulation, Obama cannot just hold a few hearings, harass a few people, and pretend he has solved the problem. This problem is just too real.
Obama’s futility has proved particularly corrosive because he promised so much. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, in fact, has titled his new Obama book, “The Promise.”
Although critics on the right, me included, have busied ourselves looking to see who is pulling Obama’s strings, I am now convinced that if there is a puppet master, it is Obama himself.
This seems counterintuitive. We naturally look for something larger, something more worthy of our concern. But there is something large afoot here, and that is Obama’s supersized ego.
Fueling that ego, writes early Obama biographer David Mendell, is “an internal conceit that formed in his character after being treated as a special human being as far back as childhood.” A powerful ego can generate real momentum.
Occidental was not good enough for Obama so he transfers to Columbia. He wearies of community organizing and limits his law school choices to “Harvard, Yale, Stanford.”
Civil rights law is small potatoes, and he runs for office. The state senate is beneath him, and so he runs for Congress and then the U.S. Senate. Incredibly, even the U.S. Senate was infra dig.
“He was so bored being a senator,” says one aide. “The job was too small for him,” writes biographer Remnick. “He’s been bored to death his whole life,” summarizes confidante Valerie Jarrett, “ “He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”
Extraordinary people often find their way into the progressive camp because it encourages their big thought thinking and allows for the accumulation of power.
Alter openly marvels at the “many extraordinarily smart men and women” who have grouped themselves around Obama, as opposed to the “legion of second-raters” that Bush attracted. (Yes, he actually says this.)
“Obama’s faith lay in the cream rising to the top,” Alter continues. The reason why—gag me: “he himself was a product of the great American postwar meritocracy.”
Like their president, Obama’s best and brightest believe that “human beings don’t always do what’s in their rational best interest . . . but with the proper government rules and incentives, society could be dramatically improved.”
Now if just a one of these geniuses could plug a damn hole, we might begin to take their claims of improving stuff a little more seriously.
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