You’ve done a nice job, Jen, of reminding readers of the long string of Obama attacks on the motives and character of his critics. As Ari Fleischer points out in the Politico story, this is another way in which George W. Bush was better than his successor. But set that aside for the moment. It’s not simply that Obama is prone to turn his critics into villains. It is that Obama — as he did on so many issues — set the bar exceedingly high.
During the campaign he said we should “resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.” He promised us, “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” Obama’s core appeal during the campaign was aesthetic rather than substantive, based on his promise to “turn the page,” to eschew “spin,” and to put aside the personal attacks that have come to characterize political discourse in our time.
Yet Obama, rather than arresting that trend, is accelerating it.
And for good measure, he cannot resist adding arrogance to his hypocrisy. Mr. Obama sees himself as our modern-day Socrates, the courageous voice of reason in an angry and rancorous world. His opponents are driven by base, if not corrupt, motives; they tell lies while he speaks Truth. One gets the sense from Obama that he is frustrated that more of us don’t acknowledge that he is a man of unparalleled wisdom and purity of heart. We don’t recognize the gift he is to all of us.
When challenged on his facts, he gets prickly and defensive; the more effective the challenge, the more contemptuous Obama becomes. One can see what is going around in his mind: “Do you presume to criticize the Great Oz! You ungrateful creatures. Think yourselves lucky that I’m giving you an audience…”
The problem for the president is that people are beginning to pay attention to that man behind the curtain.