Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Fundamental Condescension Toward Americans

When Jesse Jackson complained that Barack Obama talked down to black people, he was right on the money. But Obama’s condescension is of a different nature than Jackson realized. Obama is not showing disrespect for audiences when he tells them to take responsibility for their actions and plan for the future. Those moments represent the Democratic nominee’s, too-rare but commendable, efforts to hold adults accountable for their own lots. That’s respect. Obama’s condescension is on display every he time tells people he’ll protect them from their own carelessness or stupidity. Take this from Obama’s speech yesterday to the Urban League:

This election is about the couple I met in North Las Vegas who saved up for decades only to be tricked into buying a home they couldn’t afford.

Really? Is this election about protecting adults who don’t bother to read, or don’t understand, the fine print in their mortgage and purchasing contracts? And if you are not one of those adults, do you really want a presidential nominee addressing you as if you were?

For Obama, the answers are apparently “yes” and “yes.” And that doesn’t apply exclusively to Americans of color. Here he is infantilizing another audience in Philidelphia this past May:

Think about it. The top mortgage lenders spend $185 million lobbying Congress, and we wonder why Washington looked the other way when they were tricking families into buying homes they couldn’t afford.

There’s no question that sub-prime lenders are an unsavory bunch, but is there no responsiblilty to be borne by grown-ups looking to purchase homes? It’s as if Obama thinks the father of our country is P.T. Barnum and this is suckernation.

Obama’s concern for gullible Americans covers issues large and small, and extends both to civilians and those serving in uniform. He doesn’t even give U.S. troops credit for choosing what they want to watch on television. Obama noted on his recent trip abroad that American troops often watch Fox News. “Why is FOX always on?” he asked Fox’s Major Garrett. “They make the choice,” Garret said. Obama’s reply: “Is that the commander in chief’s choice?” That’s it: they were “tricked into” watching fox.

This is all of a piece with Obama’s views of the working class that came to light back in April. He knew why Americans clung to guns, God, and xenophobia better than they did. He saw that they’d been “tricked into” believing in those things after another (the U.S. government) let them down. “It’s not surprising,” he said. In other words, this is what Barack Obama expects of you: bad judgment, an inability to grasp details, a lockstep mentality, and incurable bitterness.

Maybe this explains why he’s so confident he’ll win in November.