Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Near Self-Abasement

There’s been a lot of commentary in the last few days about President Obama’s claim to CBS’s Steve Kroft, in a portion “60 Minutes” chose not to air on the television broadcast but did include on its website, that his achievements place him among the greatest presidents in American history. “The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments,” Obama said. “As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Most people took this as proof of the president’s arrogance. I took it as an indication of his growing humility. After all, Obama said as president he would heal the planet, repair the world, and halt the rise of the oceans. Divisions within our country would end. Dictators from every corner of the globe would bow to the power of his reason. For Obama to now say his achievements might rank below those of Lincoln is, I think, a show of near self-abasement for a man whose campaign aides referred to him as the “black Jesus,” who journalists referred to as a “sort of God,” and who historians referred to as “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.”

It looks to me like Barack Obama is suffering from a crisis in confidence.