Dr. Jekyll and President Hide

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In one of the scenes in Citizen Kane, the protagonist's former friend Jed Leland describes the character of the flamboyant politician and tycoon. "He had a generous mind," Leland says. "But he never gave himself away. He never gave anything away. He just . . . left you a tip."

He might have been describing President Obama.

Like Kane, Obama is a colossal self-advertiser. He first made his reputation, indeed, by writing a book of quasi-autobiography. Like Kane, he can hardly get through a sentence without using the word "I." He constantly refers to government entities as "my secretary of state," "my secretary of the treasury," "my department of defense," and so on. Yet when it comes to revealing himself . . . no. He'd rather be tortured than give up any pieces of the sacred substance, or anything even associated with it.

One assumes that Obama bogarted all specifics about his supposedly close and inspiring relationship with Reverend Wright because Wright had become a political embarrassment. And one assumes that Obama wants to keep his college records secret because he wasn't a very good student. These are assumptions, however, because Obama keeps his stuff to himself even when it would do him good to give it away.

The classic example of this compulsion is his logically pointless war against the people who wanted to see his birth certificate. He conceded the struggle only when he started to fear that it was costing him support for reelection, thus torturing him beyond the limits of even his endurance. For years he had made a public fool of himself by not releasing an innocuous scrap of paper.

Why, after that performance, I expected him to surrender the Osama death photos, I don't know. Maybe I thought he had reformed, and some nice, generous, "transparent" Dr. Jekyll had replaced the clutching, anal, emotionally threatened President Hide. But whatever I thought, I was wrong. The preposterous decision not to release the pictures, ostensibly to chasten radical Islamicists with the evidence of our moral superiority, will merely convince the world that Barry Obama, like Charlie Kane, has more than a small screw loose.

But what about the "tip" — "he just left you a tip"? In Citizen Kane, the protagonist paid other people for "services rendered." He demanded their love, but "he had no love to give." So he offered them money or power or other crass "tips." And that, in his way, is what Obama does. Of all the politicians I can think of, he is the greediest for love but the least interested in other people. His speech is without stories or anecdotes. He seldom alludes to any actual historical event, anything that people actually did in the past. He appears to retain no vivid memories of the people in his own past, or any real interest in the people he meets today. He speaks always as if he were reminding his audience of things they should already have been taught, never as if he wanted to learn from their responses what they themselves would like to know. In lieu of real human concern, he professes a vast interest in abstractions — progress, equality, fairness, proving to our enemies that we are better than they are in some vague, general way.

These are not the kind of tips you can take home and spend. The real stuff — he keeps that to himself. You're not getting any of that.

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Comments

Jeffrey Edelman

"The preposterous decision not to release the pictures, ostensibly to chasten radical Islamicists with the evidence of our moral superiority".

It amazes me that, of all people, non Fox-addled libertarians would think such a thing of that decision. It was not meant for radical religionists of any stripe; it was meant for the Muslims- be they millions or 10 in number- that MIGHT be able to be persuaded of his relatively more benign intent towards them than, say, Sarah or Rush or Dick.

Is that so hard to comprehend?

Jon Harrison

Personally, I'd like to see the Osama death photos. But I have to say that I think the rationale for withholding them has merit.
I believe Obama made the right decision; nothing preposterous about it. Of course, at some point the photos are almost certain to become public. I'm willing to wait.

Try to look at it from Obama's point of view. If he releases the photos, and shortly thereafter a U.S. citizen is murdered by an Islamist thug shouting, "For Sheik Osama!" clearly some people would say that the publicity provoked the attack. If the responsibility were yours, wouldn't you take that possibility into account?

I don't feel qualified to psychoanalyze the president. But I don't really think it's fair to say that he "has more than a small screw loose." Some of his policies are screwed up, but when I reflect on the administrations of LBJ and George W. Bush (to name just two), I almost sigh with relief that B.O.'s in charge. In any case, doesn't he deserve some credit for ordering the SEALS in to get Osama? A much gutsier call then just having a B-52 flatten OBL's house, don't you think?

I do wish we could try to be more objective. I literally hated George W. Bush, but I wrote a piece for this publication that acknowledged the guts he displayed in ordering the Iraq surge. Can't we give a guy credit when credit is due?

Jim Henshaw

"In any case, doesn't he deserve some credit for ordering the SEALS in to get Osama? A much gutsier call then just having a B-52 flatten OBL's house, don't you think?"

There's nothing gutsy about someone half a world away in an air-conditioned briefing room ordering military troops into action. The SEALS charging into the house and putting their lives in jeopardy -- now, that's gutsy.

This wasn't even politically gutsy, in the sense of deliberately doing something that would on average cost votes. This was a political decision made to maximize the votes Obama expected to receive, weighing the possible outcomes.

Basically, if they leveled the house, Obama couldn't say they got Osama, because there would have been a possibility that Osama got away somehow, and it would be embarrassing as hell to say, hey, we got the bugger, only to have a new video released showing Osama conspicuously alive and holding a current newspaper to prove it was a new video.

There would have been no public credit accruing to Obama if he had bombed the house -- he would have to be satisfied with just a handful of people knowing they probably killed Osama. Essentially, Obama deliberately put the lives of some SEALS unnecessarily at risk so Obama could pick up some votes and claim credit. This is the opposite of politically gutsy.

I'm glad Osama is dead, but claiming Obama behaved heroically or bravely here is to misread the political calculations involved, and make a mockery of actual heroism or bravery.

Visitor

A U.S. citizen or several will be murdered for this act of murder anyway, whether the photos are released or not. And as you say they will probably be available anyway at some point.

Politicians do nothing nothing without calculating the political costs and benefits. Obama is much less interested in right than in keeping and aggrandizing power, just the same as any politician. You don't have to be "qualified" to recognize the signs of psychopathic behavior and narcissism.

B.O. is a continuation of the shrub bush and his policies. Combine this with his collectivist and totalitarian philosophy adequately documented by now, and it is hard to see how anyone except another parasite can support this individual.

A listing of the Obama lies and broken promises would be outside the scope of this. Not to mention the enormous debt that is mathematically impossible to pay. Unless you indulge in magical thinking.

So no, I don't guess I will give credit when credit is due.

Jon Harrison

That's your privilege, of course. The rest of your remarks are so hyperbolic that I have to say they don't merit a response.

Mark Davis

You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to see that anybody who wants to wear the Ring of Power has a screw loose. Egomaniac and power hungry psycho-path are job requirements for the Presidency.

Federal Farmer

That is an excellent argument, Mr. Davis! May I continue the Tolkien reference? Many strong and brilliant men have held the presidency, or Ring of Power, and abused it nonetheless. Perhaps we need a Frodo Baggins - or someone who may not be brilliant and strong, but wise and principled. With untold suffering, Frodo delivered the ring to Mordor and destroyed it. Can we elect someone to become president who will destroy/diminish his own powers?

Cincinnatus was a consul of the Roman Republic. Shortly after his retirement, Rome was at war with the Sabines and Aequians. While he was farming his land, a group of senators beckoned him back to Rome, asking him to assume dictatorial powers, thus being able to defeat the enemy. He accepted and, within weeks, won the war and then seceded his powers back the senate. He continued farming until his death.

This country needs a Cincinnatus or a Frodo Baggins. We need someone to assume the most powerful office in the world and then shrink that power back to what is found in Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

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