A Shrinking Presidential Perspective
Necessity being the mother of invention, it appears that Barack Obama has needed, and thus invented, the Portable President Kit, consisting of two teleprompters with accompanying equipment and a traveling Don’t-You-Know-Who-I-Am-I-Am-The-President-That’s-Who Podium With Presidential Seal, which Barack Obama takes with him, everywhere he goes.
That means he brings it to an elementary school, for use in addressing the press (something past-and-moronic presidents did not have to do), who are then weirdly dismissed and unable to witness his talk to the children.
It means that he brings his Obamaprompta w/ Podium to a what is essentially a staff meeting.
I’ll be honest, my first reaction to both of those pictures was that they were photoshops. Whoever is choosing what photos get released by the White House needs to be fired. Do they think these pictures reassure us, or that it makes Obama look commanding? They’re quite wrong. These pictures make the President look like an insecure fool.
For all we know -since we don’t know very much at all about Barack Obama, after all- perhaps the president is an insecure fool. Perhaps that was why he needed a pre-presidential seal,
and a ubiquitous, dreamy logo
and a rather special seat, just for him, on his campaign plane:
and a truly unprecedented sign identifying him as President-Elect
The blogs (and Jon Stewart) are having a lot of fun at the president’s expense, every time another one of these weird teleprompter-and-podium sightings turns up, and well they should. We can be very certain that if President Bush had needed a teleprompter in an elementary school (whether it was meant for-the-press-only, or not) or if he’d needed one to address a “task force” of ten people, the press and most Americans would be ridiculing him without mercy (and with some justification), while his supporters winced.
Mockery and cynicism is all part of modern day politics, but I am beginning to worry that Obama is showing evidence of a real problem, and it is a problem of insecurity, identity, aloofness, self-protection and, I am sorry to say it, but delusion.
Is Barack Obama headed for some sort of meltdown? Is he clinging to his podium and teleprompters because he has lost his protective shields and does not trust himself without them? The starry-eyed adulation of the press has simmered down to a mere gaze of hopefulness and longing, accompanied by the barest of criticisms, and Obama translates that as the press being “against” him.
Barack Obama is making flimsy excuses or outright lying; he is saying downright weird things like “I am happy to own up to the fact that I have not changed Congress and how it operates…” He has become more self-referential than Bill Clinton. He is throwing transparent boondoggles and doublespeaks at an American public he clearly thinks is too stupid to understand much of anything.
Some are talking about Linus and his security blanket. To me Obama more accurately resembles the responsibility-shirking Captain Queeg, with this marbles. What is going on with him? The teleprompter protects him from a slip of the tongue. The Podium creates a barrier between him and his “audience” such as it is, and all of it keeps everything at a distance. Even in this picture, the desk is a barrier, the legs outstretched to the max create distance, the soles of the feet denote a measure of disregard. This president is voluntarily isolating himself, even from his advisers. And again, the White House must think this makes Obama appear in control, but one could just as easily argue that he is surrounded by men who are standing above and looking down upon him.
The optics are terrible, indeed, but the message being communicated in these photos is downright worrisome. Our nation is in serious trouble, and the man in charge of it all seems content misread every signal and only reluctantly engage. His own party has been in control of Congress (and therefore in control of spending) for two solid years, and yet all he can do is blame the predecessor (with whom he should -at this point- really have a little sympathy) and throw that same congress under the bus because all of his illusions have crumbled, and someone must be blamed.
Well, yes, there must be blame and there is plenty to go around. For my money, the press needs to be made to explain how it can justify having never asked this man a difficult question during his two-year campaign; they need to explain why they were so happy to promote Barack Obama into the presidency when they really did not know him, and did not want to know him. They wanted an idea of a president, and I suspect the press did not look too deeply at Barack Obama, because they did not want their idea shattered; they did not want to find out he was not what they imagined. Even Howard Fineman now admits we do not know this man.
So, we do not know much about Barack Obama. We do not even know the minimal stuff -school records, health records, known associates- because the press never troubled themselves with those same urgent demands they made of his predecessor. All we have is the media-built narrative, and the example of Obama in his first year as president, during which he resembled nothing of the man we saw in 2007 and 2008.
The president does not seem to know himself, either, which is perhaps why he needs to surround himself with cultural elitists, the trappings of his office, and the constant reminder of his title. Whether the highly-insulated Obama knows who his allies are, or even who the majority of his countrymen are is also a question worth asking.
Another WH issued picture that I thought was a photoshop
Referencing that photo, Bookworm, has called Barack Obama as a “malignant narcissist”, incapable of considering anything, except in reference to himself. She may well be right, but I’ll leave that to the experts. I do worry about his isolation, though, and his delusion that the press is “against” him. There is no president in my memory who has been more carefully protected and kid-gloved by the press.
But I think Bookworm is right to wonder what is wrong with Barack Obama. I think many Americans are wondering what is the story with this stranger-president, with the affable (if eerily unchanging) smile, and the instinct to blame others and then slip away. Is he a victim of his own success? Has he made the ultimate mistake of a politician, and believed his own hype, only to find that reality trumps hype, every time, and leaves the adored object unmercifully exposed as being merely mere?
All I know is, I keep seeing these awful White House approved photos, and they daily jar me because they seem to reveal the president in very unflattering, troubling ways, like the work of an obsessed and Obama-hating photoshop expert.
I look at the photos and see a man who seems not to know himself, or -perhaps- to love himself too much. And I can’t help thinking, “this man has about 40 ‘czars’ busily working under the radar; most of them are unaccountable to congress, or to the people, or to the press. They answer only to Barack Obama, whose presidency may be a voyage of self-discovery joined with immense but unfocused power.
Who knows where it will land us?
Ann Althouse links and notes:
[the pictures] are mostly unflattering when seen by people who don’t like Obama — admittedly, that’s an increasing group. People who like him look at those pics and think they are wonderful.
And this reminds me of something I was saying the other day about liberals. Liberals — I’m generalizing — are so engulfed in their belief that they are the good people, the smart people, that they forget to step back and look at things from the perspective of people who don’t agree with them.