Skip to comments.Like Chauncey Gardiner, Obama Is Profoundly Aloof
Posted on 06/27/2011 4:14:16 AM PDT by Kaslin
Which past leader does Barack Obama most closely resemble? His admirers, not all of them liberals, used to compare him to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
Well, Obama announced his candidacy in Lincoln's hometown two days before Abe's birthday, and he did expand the size and scope of government. But no one seriously compares him with Lincoln or FDR anymore.
Conservative critics have taken to comparing him, as you might imagine, to Jimmy Carter. The more cruel among them, like The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost, say the comparison is not to Obama's advantage.
But there is another comparison I think more appropriate for a president who, according to one of his foreign-policy staffers, prefers to "lead from behind." The man I have in mind is Chauncey Gardiner, the character played by Peter Sellers in the 1979 movie "Being There."
As you may remember, Gardiner is a clueless gardener who is mistaken for a Washington eminence and becomes a presidential adviser. Asked if you can stimulate growth through temporary incentives, Gardiner says, "As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well in the garden."
"First comes the spring and summer," he explains, "but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again." The president is awed as Gardiner sums up, "There will be growth in the spring."
Kind of reminds you of Barack Obama's approach to the federal budget, doesn't it?
In preparing his February budget, Obama totally ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Others noticed: The Senate rejected the initial budget by a vote of 97-0.
Then, speaking in April at George Washington University, Obama said he was presenting a new budget with $4 trillion in long-term spending cuts. But there were no specifics.
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf was asked last week if the CBO had prepared estimates of this budget. "We don't estimate speeches," Elmendorf, a Democrat, explained. "We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis."
Evidently "first we have the spring and summer" was not enough.
Then Obama deputed Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders to handle negotiations over raising the debt ceiling. Biden apparently did a good job of letting everyone set out their positions and interact.
But last Thursday two influential Republicans, Rep. Eric Cantor and Sen. Jon Kyl, left the bargaining table and said that they wouldn't return until Democrats dropped demands for tax increases. After all, if the Democrats hadn't been able to raise taxes on high earners when they had large majorities in December's lame duck session, what makes anyone think this more Republican Congress will raise them now?
Cantor said it was impossible to make progress unless Obama got personally involved. Top Senate Democrat Harry Reid said the same thing. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fresh from making a bipartisan compromise on public employee benefits, offered succinct advice: "First, the president can show up."
Well, Obama has agreed to do that Monday. But while Chauncey Gardiner, in his befuddlement, tried to answer questions squarely, Obama has seemed less interested in the substance of public policy than in framing issues for the next presidential campaign.
That was plainly the case in the decisions on Afghanistan he announced Wednesday night. Regardless of conditions on the ground, the president promised that the last of the surge troops will be removed by September 2012, the month Democrats hold their national convention.
As for Libya, Obama pretends we're not involved in "hostilities" and has been content to "lead from behind." Another sop to the antiwar left.
Sometimes it seems he's president of the AFL-CIO, not the U.S.A. The man who said he wanted to double exports in five years has nothing to say about his National Labor Relations Board appointee's attempt to shut down a $1 billion plant being built by the nation's No. 1 exporter.
And don't forget the enviro types. Obama is releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but his appointees are barring drilling in the Gulf and Alaska and refusing approval for a natural gas pipeline from Canada.
On all these issues, Obama seems oddly disengaged, aloof from the hard work of government, hesitant about making choices.
That doesn't sound like Lincoln. Or Roosevelt. Or even Jimmy Carter. More like "then we have fall and winter."
You are correct. It is Michelle (The Wookie) who wears the pants in this family and I believe is running the show. Zero shows up to just open his mouth and convert O2 into Co2.
Thank you for mentioning “Network” ! One of the greatest films ever, period.
I, and most of us here, are no doubt aware that people don’t speak in monologues as masterfully as they do in Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay (a frequent criticism of the film), but who cares? “Network” is one of the greatest screeplays of all time, and acted to perfection by the entire cast.
“Network” is perhaps, IMHO, the most uncannialy presceient film ever made. Who can’t picture a network (any of them, the MSM or the cable networks, FNC included), making some deal with a shawdoy terrorist orginazation for exclusive footage of some atrocity or another? Ratings and money are all that matter.
Thanks also for including in your post Jensens’ monologue about the international financial system. As true today (if not more so) as it was back in the ‘70s.
I first saw this film on VHS when I was about 13 or so. It blew me away then, and it still does. I’ve used the film with Advanced English as Second Language students in the Czech Republic, and here in Germany as well. They love it, and it always leads to great discussions about the proper role of the media in society. Simply, do you report the news of the day, or do you try to create it?
Not so much predicted that, but made note of it. The public is, at best, slow to catch on, and often it never catches on. World leaders have been focused on globalization for centuries, with substantial boosts coming in the early 1900's (Wilson's presidency), the 1940's (FDR), and greatly facilitated by promoting the fiction that the press is either objective or two sided.
Oh, and sorry for any misspellings. When I get into a subject, my fingers fly faster than spell check. :-)
'The Dog Who Caught The Car'You know those dogs. Those little yappy things that run around loose chasing cars down a street yapping and yapping as they go along - but never catch one. And if they did, they'd have no idea of what to do next.
That's Barry O'DUmmie. He ran and ran for that car - the presidency - yapping and yapping all the way. But he never gave any thought of what he'd actually do IF he caught it.
Well. He 'caught it'. And since then has had no idea of what to actually do.
Just another Network fan chiming in—on top of the great story and script—fabulous acting all around. (How many great films was Robert Duvall in??)
ROTF! Great bumper sticker material!
“I believe nobama is comparable to an empty sack.”
You vastly overrate him, an empty sack is ready to serve a purpose as soon as someone fills it.
Actually he is the worst of Lyndon Johnson, Carter and Clinton all balled up with none of the better qualities of any of them and some other really sour Mugabe stuff thrown into the mix.
Blivet works too except it is on too small a scale, raise it by a factor of 1000 at least.
Paddy Chayefsky was simply one of the greatest writers of the past century. His science fiction was as good as his drama.
“I like to watch”.
I completely disagree. Clinton was a policy wonk who knew his way around a lot of issues. Obama is nowhere near as knowledgeable. That is what Barone is getting at.
Agreed with you both. Paddy Chayefsky was one of the greatest writers of the last century, in both sci-fi and others.
And Robert Duvall; good Lord, I can’t even count. I’d say pretty much everything starting with “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Another great film of the 20th Century, by the way. Regardless of what you think of Gregory Peck’s politics (and he was very liberal), in that film, he made being a lawyer seem like a truly noble calling. Atticus Finch (as a character) is a righteous man, who will always do the right thing, even if reluctant, or against popular opinion, because the character has a well-developed moral sensibility. And frankly, I can’t picture ANYONE else in that role but Gregory Peck.
I remember a short Obama interview not long after he was inaugurated. He basically described his approach to being president. He would, he said, issue broad goals and objectives he wanted and let the underlings work out the details. Sound familiar?
I think the sh!t-for-brains is lazy, pure and simple. It’s easy to conjure up faculty lounge policies and then give a speech or two. Then it’s off to the links or a vacation while the little people do the spadework.
I don't see the comparison. Bill Clinton was not the ideologue, that was Hillary. Bill just wanted to "be the president", and was actually good at that role. When America panicked about Hillary's direction for the country and voted in the Republican majority, Hillary was blocked from radical policies. Because of that and of course the time taken defending himself from scandals, Bill settled into a nice Lazze-faire presidency, chasing women and "being the president," which made him perfectly happy.
In contrast, Obama doesn't seem to like "being the president," and is absolutely not good at it. His aloofnes from that role, and withdrawl to the golf course, is more of a sign to me that he does not like the job at all. Like Clinton, the Republicans were voted in again in a panic, and he has sort of retreated, but into a role that doesn't suit him, and he didn't want.
My favorite person to compare Clinton to is actually Zaphrod Beeblebrox, the president of the galaxy in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
The President in particular is very much a figurehead --- he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it. On those criteria Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful Presidents the Galaxy has ever had --- he has already spent two of his ten Presidential years in prison for fraud. Very very few people realize that the President and the Government have virtually no power at all, and of these very few people only six know whence ultimate political power is wielded. Most of the others secretly believe that the ultimate decision-making process is handled by a computer. They couldn't be more wrong.
“Being There” was a 1971 novella written by Jerzy Kosinski..... the screenplay was co-authored by Kosinski.
Chance Gardner is a simpleton who works as a gardener. He knows nothing but what he sees on TV. And repeats phrases he hears there that liberals construe as something else. Gardner even becomes the confidant of a president.
Conservatives like the film b/c it makes wealthy, politically-connected liberals look stupid.......believing the simple Gardner is an intellectual——and that everything he says is politically savvy. It even stars some of Hollywood’s well-known liberals-—Melvyn Douglas, and Shirley McClaine.
Rush Limbaugh 02/13/2008
RUSH: So we just play these four audio sound bites of Obama, and you just heard them, and basically he's about "hope" and "the future." And, of course, everybody said, "Well, who's possibly against the future?"
Well, I'm not necessarily against the future, but somebody's gotta be for right now, and I am for right now. If you don't pay attention to right now, then the future could be bad. We're all for the future. I'm not necessarily against the future, but somebody gotta stand up for right now, and I am the man to stand up for right now. I want to grab a quick phone call because it sets up what's coming.
RUSH: This is Jack in Boston. Great to have you here. Welcome to the program, sir.
CALLER: Yeah. Rush, I never would have thought that it would actually come through but you remember the 1979 or 1980 movie Being There with Peter Sellers?
RUSH: Oh, yeah.
CALLER: There was a character, Chauncey Gardiner. Now, the way people reacted to Chauncey Gardiner is the same way people react to Barack Obama. He didn't say anything! He just talked about planting the seeds and it will grow to the future and good, and at the end of the movie I think he like walked on water.
RUSH: Walked on water.
CALLER: They believed anything he did.
CALLER: It was a very, very funny movie. People should see it.
RUSH: Being There. That's an excellent, excellent suggestion, because that does nail it. Chauncey Gardiner. He's a streetwalker.
CALLER: Yeah, he was a servant. All he saw was what --
CALLER: -- he watched television; he didn't know anything.
RUSH: He got fired. In fact, he was fascinated with the television remote control.
CALLER: Yeah. What happened was, he was a servant to these wealthy people who passed away, and he never was out of the house, and he comes out -- and all he knows is what he's seen on television, and he says these platitudes that don't mean anything, and everybody thinks he's like a genius and they follow him and he becomes the president of the United States.
RUSH: Yeah, just like --
RUSH: -- messianic.
CALLER: Yeah. The movie was hysterical.
RUSH: Other wealthy people bring him into their homes for the wisdom and the guidance that he's offering. That's an excellent --
RUSH: -- excellent suggestion, Jack. Go out and rent it, buy it, whatever: Being There with Peter Sellers.