Commentary Magazine


Topic: Daily Beast editor

The Alien Among Us

Jennifer Rubin astutely notes that Obama the candidate “let everyone form their own impression of who he is and what he stands for.” (In this respect, he is like one of those alien species from Star Trek with the ability to assume the appearance of whatever life-form it finds itself among.) And Rubin correctly reads Tina Brown as saying that Obama does not believe in the mission in Afghanistan and — at least implicitly — that the Daily Beast editor is calling the president a liar when he claims that his health-care plan will be “deficit neutral.”

Brown’s comments call to mind Christopher Buckley’s odd endorsement, in October 2008, of Obama’s presidential bid, in which Buckley — like a feckless member of the Starship Enterprise crew — failed to see the alien standing in front of him as alien, even to the point of turning over control of the ship to him. In his endorsement, Buckley identified himself as “a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets” and correctly characterized Obama as a “lefty,” raising the obvious question: “So, Chris, why are you endorsing him?” Part of Buckley’s answer concerned his dissatisfaction with John McCain. But beyond that, Buckley opined that Obama had “a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect” and that, therefore, he would “surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves.” In other words, Buckley supported Obama because he thought Obama was too smart to do the things he was promising to do; which is to say, he supported him because he didn’t believe him.

Now that President Obama has resorted precisely to the “traditional left-politics” that Buckley was so sure he would eschew, and has deepened the “pit” by several orders of magnitude — with the worst yet to come — we are left to conclude (1) that Obama’s intelligence and temperament fall far short of what so many of his supporters — and some of his adversaries — attributed to him, and/or (2) that Obama was telling the truth about his policy intentions all along and that what is in doubt is the capacity of some of his supporters to recognize an alien when they see one.

Jennifer Rubin astutely notes that Obama the candidate “let everyone form their own impression of who he is and what he stands for.” (In this respect, he is like one of those alien species from Star Trek with the ability to assume the appearance of whatever life-form it finds itself among.) And Rubin correctly reads Tina Brown as saying that Obama does not believe in the mission in Afghanistan and — at least implicitly — that the Daily Beast editor is calling the president a liar when he claims that his health-care plan will be “deficit neutral.”

Brown’s comments call to mind Christopher Buckley’s odd endorsement, in October 2008, of Obama’s presidential bid, in which Buckley — like a feckless member of the Starship Enterprise crew — failed to see the alien standing in front of him as alien, even to the point of turning over control of the ship to him. In his endorsement, Buckley identified himself as “a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets” and correctly characterized Obama as a “lefty,” raising the obvious question: “So, Chris, why are you endorsing him?” Part of Buckley’s answer concerned his dissatisfaction with John McCain. But beyond that, Buckley opined that Obama had “a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect” and that, therefore, he would “surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves.” In other words, Buckley supported Obama because he thought Obama was too smart to do the things he was promising to do; which is to say, he supported him because he didn’t believe him.

Now that President Obama has resorted precisely to the “traditional left-politics” that Buckley was so sure he would eschew, and has deepened the “pit” by several orders of magnitude — with the worst yet to come — we are left to conclude (1) that Obama’s intelligence and temperament fall far short of what so many of his supporters — and some of his adversaries — attributed to him, and/or (2) that Obama was telling the truth about his policy intentions all along and that what is in doubt is the capacity of some of his supporters to recognize an alien when they see one.

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