Okay, so we know that President Obama has given himself a “good, solid B+” on his first year in the presidency.
He also said he gives better gifts than he gets.
“I have given some good gifts — you get some nice stuff — here’s the general rule: I give nicer stuff than I get.”
Let’s put aside the fact that the “general rule” did not apply to the UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown (who received a a collection of DVD’s not formatted to Europe or to Elizabeth II, (an iPod). I mean, okay, it’s just a “general” rule, but I don’t know, something rubs me the wrong way about that whole sentence.
What sort of person declares that he gives nicer presents than he gets?
A very humble, generous sort of person, he would never mention it.
Is this evidence of something else? Of a person who feels perpetually cheated? I don’t know. I shrug and throw my hands up to heaven on this one. “I give better presents than I get,” is either meaningless or so fraught with ill-will, resentment and narcissism that I can’t wrap my head around it.
There there is this, and I can’t help but think it’s all connected:
President Obama also reminisced about a gift from the father he barely knew — a basketball his father gave on a visit from Kenya.
“It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized, ‘Actually, he gave me that basketball,’ “ he says. “I think there was some cause and effect there in terms of the degree to which I just ended up taking up the sport as a kid who didn’t know his dad.”
As with Bill Clinton, there is a genuine poignancy in the absent-father narrative of Barack Obama’s life, and Obama does not shy away from revealing the internalized grief he felt (and perhaps still feels) at his father’s seeming indifference. I wonder if the “coolness” and distance that we sense from the president is not a reflection of the distance he experienced from his father, or a manifestation of his internal coping skills.
Bill Clinton seems to have dealt with his step-father’s dysfunction and absence by perfecting the “hail fellow, well met” routine – ingratiating himself upon everyone both to hide his pain and get what he wanted. Perhaps Obama, turning inwardly protective, rather than outward, has kept himself so hidden for so long that he is not sure where there is, anymore. When you are living in a shell – or behind a mask – it’s easy to imagine you are somewhere when you are in fact, somewhere else.
And after listening to his angry rant today about “fatcat bankers” I realized our “cool, calm and collected” president is not so far removed from a demagogue. One false move and a mask can slip, no matter how taut the ribbons. And then, who knows what Obama will reveal, to himself, and to us?
Perhaps it is his personal, protective “disconnect” that has put him so astoundingly out-of-touch with the wants and needs of the people he seems intent on ruling, rather than serving. Being that out-of-touch might explain the B+ (A if he passes healthcare) that he gave himself.
What the deal with the “I give better presents than I get,” bit?
As to his grade? I don’t know if he is delusional or he’s just living in a better place than the rest of us, but I would not give him a B+
But I won’t tell you, yet, what grade I would give.
How about you?