Commentary Magazine


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Obama’s Reality Gap

Morton Kondracke writes:

From BP to banks, health insurance companies to special interest lobbyists, Obama & Co. pass up no opportunity to slash and bash — except when they are asking for industry cooperation or appealing for national unity.

The dichotomy between one rhetorical mood and the other is so pronounced, you almost suspect that the administration and its leader are bipolar. …

President Barack Obama certainly is not a socialist — let alone a communist — as some of his far-out detractors claim. But he and his aides certainly are in populist, “whack industry” mode.

From BP to banks, health insurance companies to special interest lobbyists, Obama & Co. pass up no opportunity to slash and bash — except when they are asking for industry cooperation or appealing for national unity.

The dichotomy between one rhetorical mood and the other is so pronounced, you almost suspect that the administration and its leader are bipolar.

Kondrake wonders if Obama is just a liberal with a deep suspicion of free enterprise. Perhaps — but that does not explain the rank hypocrisy that permeates not only his tone with businesses but also with an array of adversaries and critics.

Here’s another theory: the Obama self-created image — practiced in the Ivy League, cultivated in memoirs, nurtured on the campaign trail, and enhanced by the media — of an intellectual, a moderate, a unifier, and most of all a charismatic figure whose mere presence is transformative has a life of its own, unrelated to Obama’s actual political agenda and beliefs. To discover the latter one need only look at his pre-senatorial associations (from Rev. Wright to Bill Ayers), his record in the Senate (the most liberal among many liberals), his legislative goals (a mix of special-interest trinkets and monstrously complicated statist measures), and his staff’s fetish for bullying (from Bibi to Fox News to Rush Limbaugh). So naturally the result is what Kondrake calls “bipolar” and others call “hypocrisy.” It is also why Obama is so expert — perhaps the only thing in which he is expert — in campaigning. For campaigning is the art of spinning a discrete image, a reality that may or may not coincide with the outside world, and selling it relentlessly to the public. That, after all, is what Obama does and has done throughout his adult life. Unfortunately, eventually the public catches on — and then poll numbers sink, a wave election builds, and the facade crumbles. But it takes a while for people to catch on.