Does Obama know who we are?

The cruelest, most violent Samurai in Japan decides he wants to become enlightened. He bursts into the home of an esteemed Zen Master and demands that the Master teach him how to become enlightened.

The Zen Master looks deeply into his eyes and says, “No. You are a dirty, vicious Samurai. I will not teach you.”

Enraged, the Samurai yanks out his sword and places it right at the Zen Master’s neck. He hollers, “Do you have any idea who I am? I am the cruelest Samurai in the world. I can cut your throat and not blink an eye.”

Without skipping a beat, the Master calmly responds, “Do you have any idea who I am? I can let you slit my throat and not blink an eye.”

The Samurai falls to his knees, sobbing, overcome by the presence of a man mightier than his sword.

I get the impression that President Obama would like very much to say to those Americans and traditional allies who are not falling for him, “Do you know who I am?”

I wish he would, because the response would be: “Do you know who you are?”

This piece by Robin of Berkeley, which includes the Zen story, describes an America that is holding its collective breath, and wondering just who it actually elected back in November of 2008.

One senses that the nation is not alone in wondering, that perhaps President Obama himself has no clue who he is, not as an American man, and not as The American President. For decades Obama has gotten by on elegance, a retiring demeanor and the ability to make people see their reflections in him. The first two are gifts; that last is a symptom of a vast emptiness, for a mirror may have width, but not depth.

If Barack Obama, who has made a great secret of his past, truly understood who he is, and who The American President is on the world stage, he would never have journeyed to Copenhagen to have his hat handed to him.

Raised off the mainland, living for a time as a “Jakarta street kid” in Indonesia (where, he told the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristoff -before the remark was scrubbed- that the Muslim call to prayer was “the prettiest sound,” in the world), Obama is an American President who is not particularly American in character or disposition. He seems not to really understand Americans, or their way -which is a way peculiar to the rest of the word, at once shallow and heroic, capable of great materialism and breathtaking self-sacrifice.

There is nothing wrong with thinking a call to prayer a beautiful thing, but someone thought Obama had revealed too much of himself in that remark, and so it has been stricken from the public record, like so much of Obama’s past. And a man without a past, like an amnesiac, is a man who knows nothing about himself, or the world in which he moves.

The American mind is a duality of sorts. A country founded by displaced nobles and built by the strongest and most resourceful commoners from around the globe, America’s can-do attitude is one that doesn’t mind looking out for the little guy, as long as his own share is a fair one, and his options are open. The American mind is constantly dreaming; even her most newly-arrived immigrants dream, because until very recently all dreams were pronounced “welcome,” and the greatest restrictions were the ones you put upon yourself, or allowed others to put upon you. The dreaming made us exceptional; the dreams made us indispensable.

Bot does Obama understand those dreams? If he does not, then in truth he does not understand the people he undertook to govern. He appears to have decided that “governing” could be accomplished with an endless campaign, meant to entertain a nation enthralled with hucksterism and side-shows; that notion betrays, in meaningful measure, a disdain for the people who placed their trust in him, with their vote.

If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
— The Art of Warfare

Whether he meant to entertain or to rule like a monarch, Obama seems now petrified to actually lead. One senses that this unformed man is at war with himself; what to do – play to the handlers and their agenda, or cast them aside, grasp both sides of the podium, swallow hard, and play to history?

The Office of the Presidency can either make a man great,
or break him, but it will not allow him to coast and remain undefined.

But a lack of definition is what Obama has cultivated throughout adult life. From what little we know of his college days to his Inaugural speech, others have defined Obama for him, going mostly by what they saw – which was usually a reflection of themselves. He has kept himself safely tucked away, voting “present,” both early and often.

The forced definition of the American Presidency is sitting very uncomfortably with Barack Obama. There is nowhere to hide; there are no further personae to be invented and presented. The Jekyll and Hyde who has been singing endless encores of “This is the Moment” to America for nearly three years, has finally come upon a real moment, an authentic crossroad: he must now materialize into a defined entity with a known vector. Will that entity choose to define himself by a willingness to help a nation of free and energetic dreamers sustain the most exceptional and productive dream in history? Or will it choose to remain the poorly-marked outline of an aching, light-consuming void, delivering nothing but silence?

Until Barak Obama decides who he is, we cannot know him, and he cannot know America. And until he knows America, he cannot begin to understand the good-faith majority of us, who are longing not for a god, not for a king, but for a president worthy of our trust.

The voluntarily dissolved American press may be willing to throw the country away for the sake of protecting and hiding a single man whose glories they mistake for their own, but like Obama, his elitist minions do not know who we are.

They never have. Working from outdated templates, all the incurious press have ever known of us are the media-drawn caricatures that they, in their laziness, mistake for a genuine likeness.

But because they do not know us, in the end they will not be able to defeat us.

Q: “Do you know who we are? We are the government that can take away your liberty, your dreams, your very American-ness.”

A: If you knew who we were, you would know that is impossible.

Even if a thing looks like victory on the surface, an unknown opponent can never be defeated. One greater than we, and greater than this crew currently in power in the world, taught that long ago.

We Americans may not know President Obama, but we know ourselves; we know who we are. That gives us a distinct advantage over those in government know neither us, nor themselves.

Barack Obama, who has expressed ambivalence about the notion of victory, needs to first win the battle within himself, if he is to help America dare to shake off a threatening nightmare and begin, again, to dream.

If he can do that, he will be great. If he cannot, his own defeat will be a bitter, deep, personal and lasting thing.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Karen in SC

    I read this recently…”He loved his country.” Monsignor reflected. “There is a lot to be said for that, even in these bustling, modern days. Love of country appears to be degeneration everywhere, and when that happens – the barbarian comes in.”

    Grandmother and the Priests – Taylor Caldwell

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ That One Girl a.k.a Bender’s Cheerleader

    France, Canada, whatever. Poor Mr. Bey. Where else could he find such stimulating discourse?

    Who drank my beer? They horked our clothes, eh? Take off, you hoser.

  • Joe Odegaard

    We have not had a real leader for a long time. The spirit of the passengers of Flight 93 remains untapped.

    This one of your best posts ever, Anchoress.

  • Yoda

    There is a saying in Spanish that goes
    “Dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres” meaning
    “Tell me who you run around with and I’ll tell you who you are”

    I’m not impressed by the company that Obama keeps.

  • Francesca

    ‘Does Obama know who he is?’ I have known the answer to that from the beginning. NO, he has no idea who he is. With his upbringing, how could he? I am truly afraid of what he is doing to our country, but Americans were fools to vote for someone who is not an American by culture or conviction. No matter where he was born, Obama is NOT truly an American.

  • saveliberty

    I read this just after watching Parts 1 and 2 of John Adams.

    The contrast is considerable.

    BTW the DVD is great, but the book was better by far.

    Thank you for posting this.

  • saveliberty

    Sorry, I meant to compare Obama’s stated goals and means to those of John Adams.

  • http://wordleswordles.blogspot.com/2009/10/anchoress-matthew-yglesias-neoneocon.html Joseph Marshall

    His only interest is enacting his agenda. Even if that means he is a one term wonder…..Do not underestimate him.

    I think Kellybee’s remark is the most cogent that has been made anywhere that I have been surfing and checking out The Obama Watch. I would agree entirely, but I would add that the agenda is not just his.

    That’s a very important point.

    It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a President with a real agenda. I would say about 20 years. We’re not used to it. We have forgotten that in order to realize an agenda in this country a President can’t keep it all to himself or do it all by himself. He has to have allies and he has to include their agendas into his if he wants to keep them.

    My favorite conservative bloggers are The Anchoress and Neo-neocon. My favorite liberal bloggers are Chris Bowers and Kevin Drum. Today I used Wordle to make word clouds of their most recent post page or post RSS feed, containing roughly 5-7 days of their latest posts.

    The full results are linked to my name, above. But the five top word results [eliminating prose makeweight like "really", "actually" and so on.] are a very clear indication of the ways in which the Liberal/Conservative split does not only leave us in different Americas, but virtually in different worlds:

    The Anchoress: know, President, Obama, master, just

    Neo-Neocon: one, Obama, Jews, O’Brien, terrorism/terrorists

    Kevin Drum: people, public, bill, loans, healthcare

    Chris Bowers: public, option, house, senate, bill

    The liberal world is about the agenda. The conservative world is about the man. As Kellybee has pointed out, the man is transitory, the agenda durable.

    I think most in the conservative world are in agreement that there are so many things six ways from Sunday that are wrong with President Obama, that he probably shouldn’t be President at all.

    Really? And your point is?

    After all, we spent most of 2008 listening to all of the things that were wrong with candidate Obama that meant he probably shouldn’t be President at all.

    The conservative world was in unanimous agreement about it then, and the members of it are in unanimous agreement about it still. And they are devoting a tremendous amount of time and attention to cross-check and make sure that their agreement on the subject is still intact, and still justified.

    Does anybody else much care? I doubt it.

    The liberal world consists largely of Obama’s allies who are both shaping and advancing the agenda, because if any of it is going to get accomplished it can’t just be Obama’s agenda. We have to be part of it, too.

    He has not tried to keep it all to himself or do it all by himself. So we have no serious problem with him.

    Does anybody else much care? I’m sure of it.

    For every item on the agenda, if it gets accomplished, will make this a very different country than it has been. And, if the objective evidence is any indication, everybody who is not fixated on Obama the man knows it, and knows that there are very high stakes involved in it.

    There have been a few times in this country when the man in office has been far more important than the agenda: Jefferson in 1803, Lincoln in 1860, Roosevelt in 1940, Kennedy in 1962, George H.W. Bush in 1990. But there is no indication that this is so now or will be so in the foreseeable future.

  • Possum

    Just discovered this wonderful site thanks to Instapundit. Love it!
    The comments are like none I have seen on other sites. Do people here always have such good manners? That is iceing on the cake.
    I plan to be a regular visitor from now on…

  • Bender

    it seems to me that most people nowadays would give up their freedoms for their iPods, welfare checks, or whatever.

    So we covered Salvation History in CCD tonight.

    We got to the part where God saves His people from slavery and brings them out of Egypt. And were they grateful? Were they happy to be free? No. One of the first things the people start doing is moaning and complaining and whining about everything. They actually started insisting that things were better in bondage than they were under the care and protection of God.

    Sad to say, a good number of people simply prefer slavery over true freedom. Thus has it always been throughout human history.

  • Greta

    A free people often elect someone to lead them that is a mirror reflection of their society. In four decades we have allowed 50 million babies to be butchered. Most of these murders have not been to save the life of the mother or because of rape or incest which some who are pro life feel should give reason to murder the baby. I know of no other country with the same type of killing that extended for that long. We live in a sewer filled with pornography and we try to make acts which only a few decades ago reviled as evil into some kind of new enlightened normal and even celebrated. We no longer want to accept any level of pain or aging but run off to the doctor or hospital with others paying the bill for almost anything we desire and complain about the cost of healthcare. We have laws which are on the books and yet most ignore them and again some see no harm and celebrate. It was not really rape, but rape rape of the 13 year old girl. We see the eager willingness of the ACORN people to do anything and to laugh at the law and it is widespread not only with the recent video’s on helping prostitues and under age girls, but making a joke of the right to vote with illegal activity supported by a major political party. Our immigration laws are a joke and we have cities where the lawbreakers are protected from prosecution. We have CEO’s who care little for the law or morality and even less for their workers as they race to the tune of the stock market and their bonuses. We have workers who do not work as they are paid and who think nothing of taking things from work or cheating just a little on their taxes. We elect congress people who we know lie and cheat and steal. We they do so again, we re elect them. We go to movies with a bunch of trash and make millions for people who seem to detest American values. Why would anyone be surprised when we elect someone like Obama who is a figment of his imagination? For those screaming about America and the old values, isn’t it a little late? Would the population today sacrifice as those who lived through the depression, WWII, and Korea? We get gun shy with the death of 800 soldiers and want to throw in the towel when WWII saw those numbers in some battles in a day and there was not thought of quiting. In the Depression, we had huge unemployment and many refused to take any government help taking any type of work they could find even if it was dangerous. I say Obama is a reflection on what we as a people have become and if we do not change, we will get the leadership we deserve. How many go out and vote and of those, how many actually take the time to understand what and who they are voting for. We laugh when Leno and other do the person on the street and people know nothing about their country or their leaders. We have left the America haters take over teaching our kids and pay little attention to what is being taught. We seldom spend time with our kids or set a positive example and wonder why they turn out so bad. People call themselves Catholic who have not seen a church in decades and who hate the teaching of the church. We see Rev Wright exposed and know from Obama’s own words how much he was influenced by him and that he sat in that church for 20 years and still elect him knowing full well that he and his wife both hate America in the same way.

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  • http://jscafenette.com Jeanette

    I’ve seen some great posts written by you, but I have to say, this is one that has really struck a nerve with me and will make me think about what you said for a long, long time.

    Thank you for sharing your mind with us.

  • http://oldbob44.blogspot.com Bob

    We are in your debt, Anchoress. Thank you so much for a thorough and extensive analysis of this man.

  • saveliberty

    Joseph, I began my political thought as a liberal and left over thirty years ago as I was not interested in being only free to say what I was told. Also, those were the days in which liberals began to cease to stand up against communism and thuggery. which was disheartening.

    This republic was made for its citizens to disagree and work out their differences, but we see from this Administration that there is never a plan b. We are told that “no one disagrees” and then people do and are chastised, demonized and in Humana’s case, ordered by the courts to stop speaking freely (while allowing AARP to lobby to get more premiums under Obama’s medical plan).

    Far from saying that most conservatives believe that Obama should not be President, most conservatives believe that all political leaders should be accountable. And yet on the left, that does not happen.

    Again and again, it’s someone else’s fault for this or for that. It now appears that what remains of the liberal point of view no longer includes an honest assessment of history, current events or personal responsibility.

    It’s also probably not a good thing to treat the American people as though they were lovable, but misguided pet hamsters, waiting for every pearl of wisdom from plainly narcissistic personalities. The narcissism problem on the left is getting worse; someone really ought to clean house.

    It would be refreshing to have more discussions with individuals as open to political differences as Camille Paglia, who is a breath of fresh air on the left.

  • http://theglobalnewsportal.blogspot.com/ Joseph Marshall

    Hi, Possum! and Welcome.

    The Anchoress insists on our minding our manners and who would disappoint such a wonderful person?

    It now appears that what remains of the liberal point of view no longer includes an honest assessment of history, current events or personal responsibility.

    Well, from my vantage point the fact that you appear to believe the following:

    honest=the assessment I happen to have made

    is part of the problem.

    I am puzzled by what you think Obama, or any liberal for that matter has to “account” for or what other way he should “account” for it besides electoral failure.

    That Chicago lost the Olympics? That virtually every Republican Senator and Representative has refused to support any health care plan whatever that Democrats propose or to compromise in any way on the issue?

    I have listened to Obama say the following explicitly quite a number of times: We don’t agree about many things, but can we work together on what we agree about?

    What is the answer he gets? Basically, it is the answer that Gretta gives a couple of posts above:

    No, all our demands are non-negotiable! If you don’t admit to them all we’re not willing to work with you on a single one. Everything you think is wrong, everything you do is base, and every attitude you hold is evil. You are all babykillers, traitors, America haters, non-citizens pretending to be citizens, weak gutted crybabies and ninnies, defenders of rapists, personal frauds, lamebrains and fools.

    When you listen to the “spokespersons” for your viewpoint in the media or on blogs who among them can actually “agree to disagree” and work with anyone who has different views on anything? Michelle Malkin? Glenn Beck? Rush Limbaugh? Ann Coulter? Ann Althouse? Glenn Reynolds? Victor David Hanson? Dick Cheney? Sarah Palin? Bill O’ Reiley? John Boerner? Rudi Guliani? Fred Thompson? Dr. Sanity? Lori Byrd?

    Who among them does not take the view that since “liberals”, “The Left”, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Gore, H. Clinton, B. Clinton, J. Carter, J. Kerry are so utterly wrong, irredeemably wrong, dishonestly wrong, hypocritically wrong, and despicably wrong, that they should be completely driven out of the public dialog by any angry words, any malicious rhetorical label either of them [Soreloserman] or what they believe [Obamacare], or any possible charge of common human failings that may be used to discredit them?

    I can’t.

  • Telemann

    You say: “Obama is an American President who is not particularly American in character or disposition. He seems not to really understand Americans, or their way …”

    I say: Who the hell are you to say who is and who is not “American in character or disposition”? Don’t you see that as mindlessly parochial and filled with self-satisfied complacency about your own place in the universe? People from backgrounds that vary from whatever yours is are not real Americans? The wingnut “narcissism” kick is wonderfully ironic. I hope you all enjoy each other’s company in your gated community, but watch out for the hubris comet heading your way.

    [Heh. "People from backgrounds that vary from whatever yours is are not real Americans?" Where did I say that? Hell, I said that commoners from all over have come here and that even the most recent immigrant dreams, because in America dreams are welcome. You want to call me names, that's fine, but at least read what I wrote and repeat it back to me accurately. When I was raising my kids, the rule in the house was: you can argue your point as soon as you can repeat your opponant's point back to them, to their satisfaction. Fail. -admin]

  • Marie Galante

    Excellent comments by all. I see I am not the only one who feels this way about Obama.
    He may be an American by birth, but certainly not by heart. I mistrusted him before the election and now all my worst feelings and fears about him are now proving true. He is a disgrace. Look at his background, how could any person vote for this man.

    Re: Media- I read that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams also distrusted the media.

  • EJHill

    Joseph – You say that you have listened to Obama. But have you connected the things that he has said to his deeds and to those of his party?

    Obama said in his inaugural speech, “…those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day..”

    Yet, bills are written in secret and voted on with little or no debate.

    He said, “Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions… We are the keepers of this legacy.”

    Yet, he stabs Poland and the Czech Republic in the back, unilaterally reneging on negotiated agreements.

    He said to the nation, “America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.”

    Yet, the real Obama, the Obama not weighing words in a presidential context said, “But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties.”

    Our liberties and freedom are negatives, said Obama in 2001. Do I have to explain terms like “Economic Justice,” and “negative liberties” and how antithetical they are to the American concept of limited government and individual liberty?

    There are things that I will not compromise just to “get along.” Ideas that run counter to the intentions of the Founding Fathers ARE utterly wrong, irredeemably wrong, dishonestly wrong, hypocritically wrong, and despicably wrong. And I will fight against them to the end without apology.

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle Miller

    Here’s the point. Pelosi and Reid don’t NEED the Republicans to enact their multi-trillion dollar boondoggle vis-a-vis health care. They WANT the Republicans on board to provide them with cover so that they can say “But the republicans voted for it too!” So don’t blame us Republicans for your angst fella, we’re just doing our jobs, providing loyal opposition. That seems to be a concept Dems don’t understand. When they oppose, it’s always in terms that are borderline seditious! So they don’t get it when Republicans tend to offer principled opposition, which is an entirely different thing.

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  • Bender

    They WANT the Republicans on board to provide them with cover . . .

    Yes, but even if that were not the case, NO DISSENT ALLOWED! when it comes to liberal causes. Even our schoolchildren are being taught that we must all agree with and follow Barack. Hussein. Obama. Mmm, mmm, mmm. All must agree, no dissenting allowed. Few things will send them into a greater tizzy than someone daring to not follow along in lockstep with them.

  • http://runswithangels.wordpress.com/ That One Girl a.k.a Bender’s Cheerleader

    Barack. Hussein. Obama. Mmm, mmm, mmm

    The Limbaugh mmm mmm mmm, with the song sung to the tune ‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah’ is better. :-)

    Yes, Possum, folks here are not only nice and polite, they are way cool, too.

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  • Dagwood

    DJ, your description of the disconnect is worthy of being posted front and center, instead of being just one of many responses. It sums the feelings of many here as well as anything I’ve read. It also explains why so many here now choose to characterize the current leadership as narcissistic, impractical and/or hypocritical.

    If the current leadership were actually working to cut costs and decrease debt in the present instead of exponentially growing both, if the majority party would actually make a half-assed effort to consider and debate the many good Republican ideas concerning health care reform instead of summarily dismissing them,

    if they were willing to seriously consider and pursue avenues of remedy that don’t call for them to become ever more powerful and omnipresent in the lives of their citizens, instead of using the past year’s crises as an opportunity to foist upon us programs that may not even address the problems we face,

    and if those in power actually held themselves and their supporters – from Rangel and Murtha and Grayson to ACORN and the Black Panthers – accountable to the same standards to which they hold Wilson, Sanford and other members of the opposition,

    THEN maybe there wouldn’t be so many who distrust them. The reason our host and so many of us are quick to question the character of those who are trying to pass such programs is because they’ve done nothing to deserve any respect up to now.

  • Dagwood

    Sorry, I meant EJ (as in Hill), not DJ.

  • Daman

    I think there’s something disturbing in finding nobility in allowing oneself to be murdered. In cultures, where the individual is subservient to “the whole” or through out the history of man kind, examining the immense cruelty government doles out to its subjects.

    Our media and our public schools villainize individuals who choose to defend themselves from violence initiated against them. The swift punishment governments across the globe inflict on their citizens when they defend their property and life is remarkable. From a man in England getting life in prison for having shot a burglar who broke into his own and was endangering not only his life but that lives of his children to criminals being able to successfully sue their victims for damages when they injured themselves breaking into their homes in America.

    It’s a pattern – not a coincidence. This has been a calculated effort to make the American public question whether they do have an inherent right to their own lives. Suddenly its righteous not to raise your fists in defense – what so ever! Better to allow yourself to be killed than risk injuring your attacker.

    This is even a concept explored in the novel Catch-22. Where the two characters the average reader might view as being the most insane are actually the only two sane characters in the book, Yossarian and Dunbar (there’s a third sane character but I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it). Yossarian and Dunbar are both in love with their lives and are wary of anyone trying to kill them, including their commanding officers.

    This reminds me of another satire I saw not too long ago, a game called “2011: Obama’s Coup Fails”, you can google it. Only I hope the actions of our citizenry in reality is close to what they did in this fiction if our Constitution is ever voided. I’m proud of the patriots who took up arms to assert what was always known – human beings aren’t property and that liberty isn’t anything an arbitrary power (like government) can legislate away.

  • Lily

    Joseph says, “I have listened to Obama say the following explicitly quite a number of times: We don’t agree about many things, but can we work together on what we agree about?”

    Yes, I have heard him say this, and it sounds nice, but he doesn’t practice it. Obama doesn’t compromise or meet half way. His idea of working toghether or bipartisanship appears to be – do things my way, and we’ll get along just fine.

    He sounds like a reasonable man of compromise, but he is not, in actual practice, such a man.

    If you disagree Joseph, give me examples of his compromising nature

  • dry valleys
  • Telemann

    OK, I’ll try to make myself clearer without hurting your feelings.

    You said: “Obama is an American President who is not particularly American in character or disposition.”

    I think you don’t know what you’re talking about. What does it mean to be “American in character or disposition”? Is there a single American character? a single American disposition? And what does it mean that more than half the Americans who voted last fall thought that Mr. Obama should be president? Does that mean they are also not American in character and disposition? Does the fact that I voted for him make me unAmerican? My original point is that you want to make “American” mean what you want it to mean, which is some sort of right-wing label. Your party or faction has already attempted to debase the words “the flag” and “the Constitution” to mean only what you want them to mean. Now you are working on “American” as well. You don’t own the language.

  • http://theglobalnewsportal.blogspot.com/ Joseph Marshall

    Lily, the people who need to do the compromising work in one place: The United States Senate.

    There is absolutely nothing any Democratic President can do to any Republican Senator to keep them from voting any way they choose or speaking out in any way they choose. If they dissent [and they almost totally do] there is nothing on this green earth that Obama or Reid or Pelosi can do to “suppress” it.

    If Obama has even tried to do this to any of the Republican Senators, I have not heard of it. Have you?

    I have to confess that I think that all the caterwauling about Obama “suppressing all dissent” or “destroying free speech” is so juvenile and so asinine that I really don’t want to even address it. It puts a real strain on minding my manners.

    But if I must I must. So when did Obama send the FBI to shut down Fox News or Sinclair Broadcasting? What spurious tax audits have been started against Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, or anyone who has been blathering so loudly and so publicly for so many years?

    Do we have to start an investigation into what happened to Matt Drudge?

    How many times has anyone here who writes a blog had a couple of Men In Black knocking on their door and suggesting that they cease and desist? Which one of them has had their Internet provider cut off their access? or even threaten to do so?

    Have any of them suddenly discovered a hidden keystroke recorder on their electronic piano? Or the little line of glue seeping out from under the envelope flap that’s been tampered with?

    What ordinary Conservatives have simply disappeared in the middle of the night, never to be seen again? What police raids have been conducted on local Republican Party offices? How many conservatives have had their knees broken by pairs of “Chicago goons”? or anything even remotely resembling a cross burned on their lawn? Which of them just received a lawyer’s letter from ACORN threatening legal action against them for libel or defamation?

    The answers are nothing, none, and no one. By and large my Buddhist friends from abroad grew up in places where there are real curbs on free speech and real “suppression of dissent”–places like Tibet, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, or Thailand. Some of them live in such places still. So I know what “suppression of dissent” really means. And the familiar and loose usage of the term here offends my taste.

    Now the axe cuts both ways:

    Here’s the point. Pelosi and Reid don’t NEED the Republicans to enact their multi-trillion dollar boondoggle vis-a-vis health care. They WANT the Republicans on board to provide them with cover so that they can say “But the republicans voted for it too!” So don’t blame us Republicans for your angst fella, we’re just doing our jobs,

    This does not strike me as an attitude of receptivity to negotiation and compromise. And though the quotation is from Gayle Miller above, I don’t it is unrepresentative of the attitude of the actual Senators involved. And to reprise my own redaction of such remarks:

    No, all our demands are non-negotiable! …Everything you think is wrong, everything you do is base, and every attitude you hold is evil.

    In frank fact, this is clearly the attitude of Gayle Miller and many of the other commentors toward Obama, other elected Democrats, and even toward mere mortals like me.

    So what is there to negotiate and compromise about?

    Also Gayle Miller is wrong. No serious legislation that passes both houses of Congress is ever a slam dunk for anybody. Those who think it is simply are ignorant about how Congress, and, especially the United States Senate really works.

    [By the way, Lily, if you're open to it you can have a quiet little laugh with me about what would be happening if the Republicans, in their incredible hubris, had actually abolished the Senate fillibuster for good, as they threatened to do in 2005.

    I had thought of digging back into the Anchoress' old posts about the treacherous Democratic fillibuster for juicy tidbits to quote. But that isn't really kind, and I've gotten lazy online over the past couple of years.]

    In any event, what compromising is to be done for the next 3 years, will be done in the Senate, where Obama is almost as much of a spectator as we are. All he can do is make the offer, which he has. The Senators have to do the real work.

  • Bob

    In the US Army we have a term for ones like Obama. One’s who look good, are articulate, put who are a facade. Without real substance, they skate thru life, sounding good, “looking good”, working hard to be seen doing the those things their bosses approve of. In other words, they manage up. That term is “a perfumed prince”.

  • oldmediatype

    I remember that muslim call to prayer quote. I seem to recall that the Kristoff saying Obama sang the words. I wondered at the time and to this day whether Kristoff had an audio recording. As a former reporter, I often used an audio recorder. Nobody ever asked about a tape. Not that we’d ever get to hear it. The Times buried the Acorn story as well. So, now we’re stuck with a president who really isn’t an American.

  • Bender

    OK, I’ll try to make myself clear without hurting your sensitive feelings.

    Some people take it to be an insult to say: “Obama is an American President who is not particularly American in character or disposition.”

    I would think that Obama himself would take that as a compliment.

    If America really were as crappy as he consistently and repeatedly tells us and the rest of the world that it is, then why the hell would he want to be particularly “American”? It is all too clear, in all his efforts at “changing” and “resetting” America, that Obama does not much care for America as it really is. Likewise, he and Mrs. Obama are constantly telling people in America that they are going to have to change. It is too obvious for words, then, that Obama does not like America or Americans as they really are, he only likes them as the something else that he wishes they were.

    So it make perfect sense, again too obvious to have to rub someone’s nose in it, that Obama would abhor anything having to do with being “American” as Americans really are. Rather, he is the “new American,” the “post-American.” He is a self-described “citizen of the world.”

    Obama is an American President who is not particularly American in character or disposition.

    Privately, I have no doubt that Obama would not dispute that. Indeed, in his heart of hearts, he would probably say, “Damn straight.”

    And so would his defenders, if they were honest with themselves.

  • Bender

    No dissent allowed.

    I wonder if certain commenters have ever been on a college campus? or seen who infests the government bureaucracy? or ever been to a union hall? or ever turned on his TV or been to the movies? or picked up a major newspaper?

    One learns in quick order that there are certain things (i.e. conservative things) that one does not say in many circles, else they be attacked as backwards, hateful, misogynist, racist, anti-gay, angry, jingoistic, xenophobic, intolerant, and extremist.

  • Brianna

    I am so thrilled that the man you seem to dislike so much has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    [An award that has been meaningless since it was given to an ex-American president to "kick the leg" of a current President, now given to an American president who had literally done nothing but throw his allies under buses and cozy up to despots. I am thrilled that you are thrilled. The Nobel Peace Prize goes to many anti-semites and anti-Americans -admin]

  • navyman

    So far Obama’s presidency can best be described as a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing”

  • http://theglobalnewsportal.blogspot.com/ Joseph Marshall

    Yes, Bender, and over on conservative blogs [except for the Anchoress here and that's why she's special] I get called all sorts of nasty names for not joining in some commentor’s mutual admiration society, or subjected to the even more juvenile tactic of having my last name spelled Marstalin, or some similar twaddle.

    Having freedom of speech doesn’t imply everyone listening politely to you and at least clapping briefly pro forma. It means not being subject to legal sanction for speaking your mind. It also means you have a right to “equal protection of the law” and to be free from covert harassment [such as spurious tax audits] by government officials either.

    Over here in America we’re not perfect in this regard–particularly in regards to covert harassment. But we’re a heck of a lot better than most of the rest of the world.

    And, no, Joe Wilson was not subject to such legal sanction by his fellow House members–he was reprimanded for his unbecoming conduct, not his views. He broke no laws and will not be indicted by the grand jury next week for having done so.

    Groupthink is unpleasant anywhere, whatever it is the group happens to think. But that doesn’t mean my rights are interfered in the least because of it. I’m not going to pretend that you don’t find it’s liberal form in many American institutions inanely preening itself on it’s “tolerance” and its “objectivity”.

    But “freedom of dissent” from it means merely this: if you don’t like it, you can give it a bronx cheer to its face [what I do on a lot of conservative blogs] or you can set up your own soapbox among a more congenial and like-minded crowd.

    Just like I do here. Right?

    I don’t think we lack congenial and like-minded havens for people of conservative views.

  • Steve P

    Wow, Anchoress– what a prophetic article in light of the Nobel award this morning.

    As I told Dcn. Greg, I thought they had pulled the story from “The Onion”. Somebody tell Obama to decline the award or SNL is REALLY going to have a field day tomorrow night!

    Condolences on your friend’s passing, and to the family.

  • http://theglobalnewsportal.blogspot.com/ Joseph Marshall

    What does it mean to be “American in character or disposition”? Is there a single American character? a single American disposition? And what does it mean that more than half the Americans who voted last fall thought that Mr. Obama should be president? Does that mean they are also not American in character and disposition? Does the fact that I voted for him make me unAmerican?

    I think you’re too harsh on the Anchoress, Telleman. Looking into a mirror and speculating on what it means to “be an American” is a fine old literary tradition. And if the Anchoress looked into a mirror and saw Micheal Moore, Nancy Pelosi, or Barack Obama staring back at her, she would have good reason to be annoyed.

    At least with the mirror.

    Who among us doesn’t measure our country or the world by the yardstick made with string stretched along our extended arm between our thumb and our nose?

    Barack Obama doesn’t look, think, or talk like most of the people here do. I know that’s no surprise, even though most of them are as annoyed about it as the Anchoress would be with her mirror.

    Well, gee.

    What it boils down to is that some folks have simply not accepted the fact that he is the American President, and have to spend endless time and effort arguing that he’s someone or something else.

    It sounds just as silly to me as it does to you, but conservatives really are not very politically involved, by and large, preferring to leave professional Republican astroturf where there could be a grassroots movement of people.

    The immediate thought of liberals that when you don’t like a President is that you don’t waste the time you need to work from Day 1 to start turning him out of office next election. This simply doesn’t occur to most conservatives. They really aren’t used to putting that much labor into politics, so you will never see the social conservative equivalent of MoveOn.org.

    And in political labor’s absence all you can do is nurse the lack of self-criticism we all are prone to: constantly chewing the cud that since our views are self-evidently correct that the people who don’t hold them must somehow be morally corrupt for being so pig-headed not to see the plain truth revealed by applying common sense.

    I, at least, catch myself doing this all the time. Though I am inclined to substitute the term “mentally defective” for “morally corrupt.”

    I don’t like making a fool of myself by thinking such things from mere silly puffed up pride in my own good judgment. But I do think them on occasion, and part of a sensible self-criticism is coming to terms with the fact we are all prone to such foolishness, whatever our political views, so we should be a little more tolerant when we discover the same failing in others.

    [When you write on religiion, Joseph you are wise and sublime. And when you are condescending you are condescending and quite wrong. If you want to slyly imply some sort of defect in my reasoning based on Obama's physical appearance then you -after reading me all these years- do no know me at all, and this offends the crap out of me. If you were being honest you would be able to see exactly what is lacking in Obama that is distinctly "American" in character. I wonder if you'll think about it or you simply want to play a game -admin]

  • Bender

    I am so thrilled that the man you seem to dislike so much has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    And it is UNIVERSALLY seek as a total joke, even by those on the left.

    After a couple of moments of reflection, my thoughts are — fine. It’s good to give it to him. After a while the bulls**t piles up so high that even the libs can’t deny it.

  • http://disqus freelancer

    My understanding about the Nobel peace prize is that the nominations for same ran 10 days, from Jan 20 to Feb 1, 2009. President Obama was ‘awarded’ a prize for getting elected. No race run, no victory achieved, no obstacle overcome. That Nobel prize is now a recognizable joke and badly damaged for propaganda purposes. That is not a bad thing.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Joseph, what you seem to be saying (aside from being rather insulting, and superior), is that, because Obama is the president, he must not be criticized, that if we do criticize him, we’re somehow just criticizing ourselves.

    And if you think conservatives aren’t getting politically involved, you just haven’t been paying enough attention.

    (Actually, I think you do see them getting involved, and you don’t much like it and wish they would stop.)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And Brianna, the award is meaningless; it’s been meaningless ever since they gave it to the murderer, Yassir Arafat.

  • http://theglobalnewsportal.blogspot.com/ Joseph Marshall

    I’m sorry Anchoress. Looking at it again, I did step over the line, and approached this issue in the wrong spirit. Please delete the comment.

  • http://theglobalnewsportal.blogspot.com/ Joseph Marshall

    I should also apologize to the other commentors. You deserve better than my impulses gave.

  • Pingback: Michelle Obama deserves Peace Prize, too! » The Anchoress | A First Things Blog

  • http://twitter.com/lisagraas Lisa Graas

    I waited to comment on this. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not it’s true that many of us know who we are and whether or not those of us who think they know who they are will be willing to work with others for a return to what we collectively used to think America to be, whatever that was.

    Example: On the left, they say health care is an entitlement because it is a right. On the right, we have an awakened “sleeping giant” that doesn’t seem to understand that health care is a right (e.g., Teri Schiavo had a right to health care that was denied by government) because they hear “right” and think “entitlement”.

    Another example: We have here in Kentucky a Senate race where tea partiers are fighting against “elitism” as they anoint the son of Ron Paul for the Senate seat because he’s the son of Ron Paul…….ignoring his position against federal involvement in the abortion issue. Ron has them all rebelling against the Republican party as he has an “R” after his name. I mean, please.

    Seriously, do we know who we are, collectively? No. We’re fractured practically to the point of oblivion.

    Pope John Paul II said, in his homily to the Polish people in Victory Square, 1979:
    “For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.”

    How many people really know who they are? Really. They’re outraged because they’re losing their jobs and their homes, primarily, although they are concerned also about social engineering with which they disagree, but do these same people work for justice in their communities? Do they practice works of mercy?

    Do we really know who we are? I’m not so sure.

    Blessings to you, my compatriot.

    ~ Lisa ~

    [A very thoughtful post, Lisa, thanks -admin]

  • Andre

    Thank you Joseph. Well said. Do not delete.

    [I would never delete Joseph's comment. Whether I might delete the comment of someone telling me not to delete it...hmmm... admin]


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