Peggy Noonan and the President as Visionary and Victim

Peggy Noonan has a good, insightful column this week touching on how very hostile our president seems to be toward about half the country, as evidenced by the “final press conference” of his first term:

[Speaking of evil, dastardly Republicans] “And yet, “when I’m over here at the congressional picnic and folks are coming up and taking pictures with their family, I promise you, Michelle and I are very nice to them.”

You’re NICE to them? To people who’d take food from the mouths of babes?

Then, grimly: “But it doesn’t prevent them from going onto the floor of the House and blasting me for being a big-spending socialist.” Conservative media outlets “demonize” the president, he complained, and so Republican legislators fear standing near him.

If Richard Nixon talked like that, they’d have called him paranoid and self-pitying. Oh wait . . .
There was a logical inconsistency to his argument. A government shutdown would be so disastrous to the economy that he won’t negotiate with Republicans if that’s what it takes to avert it.

Beyond these inconsistencies of thought, we see this grousing, put-upon president prince who will not negotiate with anyone (because no one’s ideas are as correct as his) and who is annoyed that his subjects won’t just do as they’re bid.

Well, the grousings are an Obama standard that no one in the press likes to call him on, but beyond that is this conceit that Obama and only Obama is ever dealing with anyone in good faith; everyone else is devious and letting him down:

Two days later, unveiling his gun-control plan at a White House event, it wasn’t only Republicans in Congress who lie: “There will be pundits and politicians and special-interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty, not because that’s true but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever.”

No one has good faith but him. No one is sincere but him. Doesn’t this get boring, even to him?”

This is the narrative for the next four years: the president as visionary and victim. Obama will attempt to utterly solidify that image on his inaugural day when he takes the oath of office, while using not one but two bibles — because if a little symbolism is good, a little more is better.

The point of the bibles is not their content but their character. One belonged to Abraham Lincoln, the great Emancipator. The other belonged to The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, the great Civil Rights leader. Both were visionaries and victims. The message of this startlingly illiberal president, whose second terms appears geared toward the narrowing of our rights, is: “I’m one of these guys; I am their standardbearer and their culmination, the third person of the trinity of American freedom.”

Whoo boy. We’re in for quite a ride on that ego. Obama may well be a visionary of sorts — he is certainly a cunning campaigner who effective lays waste to his opposition while he pursues his intent to “fundamentally changes” America — but a president operating with the full-on assistance of an unquestioning and complicit press, one that has become more of a Ministry of Information than anything else, is hardly a victim, except perhaps of his own personal demons.

We all have personal demons, and the president does too — they’re always connected to our childhood stories. The press likes to say that Obama has a “great” story, but in truth, I’ve always found his a bit sad. A longed-for, distant father. A loved, distant mother who moved him about or left him with grandparents. Perhaps that story is at the root of our president’s own habits of isolation; perhaps they are at the root of his resentment against any-and-all who do not adore and affirm him. In which case, I feel kind of bad for the child Obama. But I feel worse for the rest of us.

Speaking of “good faith” I was really pleased to see Noonan mention it, because it’s something I’ve written about before, myself, while wondering if, politically any of us may assume it, anymore:

I would like to believe that Obama spoke to Dolan in good faith. In fact, a progressive friend insists that Obama did mean it, but that he was swayed against his own best instincts by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and others.

I want to make that good faith assumption of the president—I want to believe that he meant what he said to Dolan, back in November—but it’s difficult to reconcile the man who coolly said “I won” to the GOP the very first time he met them, with a president unable to tell his cabinet secretary and advisors that his own opinions and words have weight and meaning; a president all-too willing to play along with a malicious lie, and a spitefully dishonest and destructive game.

If good-faith assumptions cannot be well-founded, what does “civility” serve beyond the preservation of polite fiction?

One more thought on good faith: I fully anticipate the first comment in the combox to be something along the lines of “Oh, Noonan is finally figuring out this president, eh? Well too bad, too little, too late. She liked him once, and that’s enough to discredit her forever in my perfectly calibrated eyes.”

Why not give up the satisfaction of saying that, and take Noonan in good faith? If you give the back of your hand to someone who has altered their thinking, you do not strengthen the hand, you just further weaken the fibers that may need to be connected.

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  • neenergyobserver

    A superb article, which goes to the root of the matter. I will be a while thinking about this.

    And with regard to Ms. Noonan, what who said, will be said but, not by me. Given where she lives and her associates, I’m very glad that she has begun to see the truth, Kudo’s to her. She was a great speechwriter for Reagan and I’m glad to welcome her home.

    And, yes, it’s going to be a long 4 years with the Victim-in-Chief.

  • Gail Finke

    I didn’t vote for Obama the first time but I was willing to take him on good faith and I don’t see why anyone would think Peggy Noonan wasn’t. I told several people “He has no experience, he’s way too far left, but he seems like a smart guy and if he wins I think we’d be okay.” HAH. Smart is as smart does, I guess.

    I’m glad you write that about the president’s “story.” I think it’s a sad one, too. Apparently he idolized the father who abandoned him and his mother, his mother was obsessed with leftist political thought, and she dragged him all over the place, I guess to live among injustice and oppression, before sending him off to be with radical friends rather than with her. Remember when he told that story about his mother waking him up at 4 am to go over his homework? People thought that was poignant, I thought it was STRANGE. His whole life story is strange, but strange in a sad way, not an intriguing or inspiring way.

  • Lucky Louise

    Gail said: “His whole life story is strange, but strange in a sad way, not an intriguing or inspiring way.”

    Yes. He is to be pitied. I saw Dinesh D’Souza’s movie about his father’s background … it made me pity the little boy Barry. I don’t think his story is great at all; it is a story that should warn us to be wary of the man grown from those seeds. Knowing what we know about father-hunger, abandonment issues, and all the psychological dreck that can come from that …

    … and sure enough, all-grown-up Barack is a very dangerous man. Not just in and of himself … I don’t think he wants to work hard enough to be dangerous in and of himself, as you have observed Anchoress, he prefers to be King … but in his handlers and sycophants and those who take their authority from him … there is no noblesse oblige in that clique …

  • conservativemama

    Obama is tragic, he is sad, but he is also a nasty little man. And I fear for my country. Yes, I’m still annoyed that Noonan and so many should have known better. Obama is exactly who I thought he was and truly, it’s hard for me to accept that others didn’t see it.

    I have children. What will the coming years, decades be like for them, for my unborn grandchildren?

    My parents left Cuba in 1961. As bad as many Americans feel, it’s terrifying for those of us who feel it’s happening twice in our lifetimes.

  • Victor

    (((Whoo boy. We’re in for quite a ride on that ego.)))

    Obviously Victor, ya must be talking about yourself here cause our 92% cells are keeping a close eye on ya and as a matter of fact, we were right behind ya when you commented here; here; and here;

    Listen Victor! The alien gods are FED UP with ya so ya better smarten UP if ya know what’s good for ya? Didn’t John Carter, I mean Joe Carter tell ya that you should stop your silliness cause humans are just not going to put UP with “IT” (your dangerous so called sermons from your so called 7% Jesus cells for much longer, if ya know what we 92% god cells mean? Come Victor, STOP all of “IT” before the aliens gods go crazy and ya humans lose “IT” all. OK! We’ll give your 7% Jesus cells a certified cheque for “ONE” million if only He’ll come and collect “IT” for ya. This Jesus of yours will need to stop lying and continually duping U>S cause there’s no WAY that we could ever believe that HIS FATHER could give U>S a Galaxy if only we can win His LOVE which He’s giving away for “FREE”?? So what do ya say Victor?

    What do ya want me to say sinner vic? That “IT” is in our Nature of the human animal blues!?


  • Ryan Haber

    I’m under the impression that Noonan – who I’ve read for years – was never exactly a fan of the Supreme Comrade. She just wasn’t jumping onto the Obama-is-bad-for-America bandwagon. I always got the sense that she was willing to give him the benefit of doubt, which can only show a generosity of spirit that I, apparently, lack when it comes to him.

    My suspicions about him, on the other hand, from the first time I heard him, have only been confirmed and reconfirmed. My mind changes about persons, places, and things all the time. About him, it has solidified.

    Obama is evil.

    I use the word advisedly. Is he irredeemable? Nope. Does he have a funny little mustache or run concentration camps? Do you have to, to be evil? His level of power and cultural circumstances impact his need and ability to accomplish what he will, but his aims are wicked and immoral, and his methods are as well. What do you call someone who decides, out of the blue, to use the Church as a punching bag? Who declares the law of God banished even from private affairs? Who abrogates law and order, or worse, uses them as a pharisaic weapon against his opponents? Who wants to pay for the funding of abortion? Who has sown nothing but division and discord from day one?

    But it was good of Noonan not to leap to the conclusion that I perhaps was overhasty to reach.

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  • Ryan Haber

    And yeah, the man strains my charity (past breaking, God help me) in a way that the likes of Clinton (he or she) couldn’t possibly.

  • Kensington

    It’s not just that Peggy wasn’t willing to jump on the “Obama is bad for America” wagon in 2008, it’s that she *did* jump on the “Palin is bad for America” wagon.

    And I know that our hostess is not a big fan of Governor Palin, but I’ll probably always have a wary eye on someone who would present themselves as a conservative and yet could look back and forth from Obama to Palin and go “Obama’s the guy!”

  • Manny

    Obama did not negotiate in good faith. That is absolutely certain.

    Not a bad piece by Noonan, but I thought this one a week or two ago was more insightful:

    I’ve realized this for about a year now. There is something vicious and vindictive deep inside this president. It’s not a question of playing fair. Politics is not fair. But politics is mannered. There are things one doesn’t do because tradition has established taboos. One doesn’t invite Paul Ryan to a speech and publicly ridicule him while in the audience. One doesn’t put out advertisements claiming your opponent killed a woman. Some of the things that Obama has done are truly shocking. After how they went after and “killed” Mitt Romney on a personal level (all the while saying how he liked Mitt in the debates) , I have no pity for him.

    He lied to Cardinal Dolan. He lied in the debates. He’s lied about protecting gun rights. He’s lied about gay marriage. He lied how Obamacare wouldn’t raise taxes. He’s lied to Nentenyahu. He’s lied to House Speaker Boehner. Just read Bob Woodward’s book, and Woodward is no Conservative shrill. After the fiscal cliff crises there was an implied acknowledgement that when the debt ceiling came a few weeks later, then real cuts would be addressed. He’s now gone back on that, and instead of nominating an Erskine Bowles as a signal toward negotiating in good faith toward the needed cuts, he nominates the most confrontational, divisive person possible, Jacob Lew. Instead of nominating someone to heal our special relationship with Israel at Sec of Defense, he nominates the one person who has a history of being anti-Israel. Is this vicious divisiveness because of some childhood hurt? Who knows, and frankly I couldn’t care. Psychoanalyzing presidents is a common endeavor and it is meaningless.

    The bottom line is that this president has chosen a course of divisiveness, and it’s a conscious choice. Conservatives work within the country’s traditions, the middle of both sides work with a populist agenda, the far left shoves things down the throats of their constituents. Obama feels he’s got a slight majority advantage and he’s going to keep the half of the country divided so with that slight advantage he can shove through his ideological plans. He’s a true left winger.

    Finally I can’t stand watching him anymore. He’s a bald faced liar, a bully with his opposition, a hypocrite, and has an ego that rivals Lucifer. There is no humility in this man.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I can’t stand to watch him anymore either, Manny.

    His angry eyes, pursed mouth and the strange way he waggles his head—like one of those bobble-headed dollies, you stick in your car’s rear window—are starting to freak me out. And every time he says “Folks”, I want to scream, and shove my foot through the T.V. screen!

    I do find it interesting that more and more people are beginning to say he’s actively trying to divide the country, and consciously working against it, as opposed to being just incompetent, and/or naive.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    There’s also that grating, skritchity voice of his. . .

    (Ever since Joe Biden did his “Man Who Laughs” imitation, during the Ryan debate, I’m pretty freaked out by him, too! Our government is turning intoone great, big, carnival sideshow. Send in the clowns!)

  • wild bill

    To all those people who think the Prez is very dangerous and will take this country to RUIN should take a look at some of the Republican members of the US House from TEXAS. When you listen to to these people you wonder what planet they are from. At least the PREZ is from Earth even if it is from Africa and not Hawaii which last time I checked was in the USA when Barrack came around. Thank GOD I come from a part of the country the NW where for the most part our political representatives of both parties are reasonably sane and don’t go off ranting and raving about nothing. Also none of these people are total thieves, just your normal petty criminals making as much extra here and there as they can as a member of congress!

  • wild bill

    Lest anyone accuse me of being PINKO COMMIE or anything but a good red blooded American I have this to say, I held my NOSE and voted for Barrack the first time around as I couldn’t find another alternative. This time around there where several great alternatives mainly on the left but one on the right also. About my comment on LUNATIC political figures from Texas. WE had a similar one here a few years ago. He was booted from office after one term and was recently given a jail sentence at 80 years of age for being a lying thief. It would nice if more of the people who claim to be such great Christians would act a bit more like Jesus for a change. At least he was good listener and said lots of things a couple of thousand years ago that should seriously considerd today.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    We get it, Wild Bill, we get it—”Thou shalt not criticize Obama, for anything—ever!”

    Not accusing you of being a Pinko Commie, or even slightly roseate—but Texas is Texas. We’re talking about the entire United States. Whatever your political figures are in Texas, they’re not in the White House, running the country at the moment. So, no one who lives outside of Texas need worry about them. They’re your problem, not ours.

    And, after Benghazigate, Fast and Furious and the current hostage crisis in Algeria, you really think the president’s not dangerous?

  • Subsistent

    Is Mr. Obama evil? Well, even of Satan it can be truly said (IMO) that he’s good relatively speaking (though he’s evil absolutely speaking), since, like every other being, he’s good insofar as he positively exists. Similarly with Mr. Obama, if, but only if, he’s in the state of mortal sin. But we can’t know whether he is or not.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Drudge is now reporting that all the remaining foreign hostages in Algeria are dead, and Algerian special forces raided where they were being held.

    Nothing from our president, or the mass media.

    Is Obama evil? Is he incompetent? Is he, or isn’t he, in a state of grace? I don’t think those really matter.

    Is he dangerous? Is he good for America? That’s what we should be asking.