Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Obama’s Disquieting Heroic Fantasies

At a speech before the Congressional Black Caucus this weekend, President Obama told the crowd, “I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain.” He also told the CBC to “take off your bedroom slippers” and “put on your marching shoes.” And he scolded them to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.”

I have written before  about Obama’s deep, almost desperate, need to portray himself as the opposite of what he is, to conceive of himself in a way that is at odds with reality. We have seen it in all sorts of areas, including claiming himself to be a voice of civility, portraying himself as a champion of bi-partisanship, lecturing others about profligate spending, and saying he is the only responsible “adult” in Washington. Now we see this habit in a new arena – this time, the president as Obama the Stoic, a man so committed to “pressing on” for the cause of social justice he just doesn’t have time to feel sorry for himself. Indeed, he has now decided to sermonize to others not to complain, not to grumble, and to “stop crying.”

This is akin to John Edwards hosting a weekend seminar on the importance of marital fidelity.

If there has been a president in my lifetime who has felt more sorry for himself – who has laid the blame for his failures on more people (George W. Bush, the Congressional GOP, the Tea Party, conservative talk radio hosts, millionaires and billionaires) and more things (ATMs, Japanese tsunamis, the Arab Spring, Fox News, Wall Street, et cetera) – I can’t think of who that might be. As the wheels on the Obama presidency come off, as his record of ineptness becomes more indisputable, Obama is becoming more intemperate, more aggrieved, more prickly, and more detached from reality.

What we are seeing is a president attempt to create, almost out of whole cloth, his own character, his own narrative, his own truth. That might work in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel; it works less well in an American presidential campaign.

To watch a young child indulge in heroic fantasies of himself can be charming. To watch a president indulge in heroic fantasies of himself is disquieting.

 


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.