Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: Presidential Narcissism
Posted on 05/09/2012 5:56:23 PM PDT by neverdem
Former president Bill Clinton just appeared in a reelection television commercial for President Barack Obama. At one point, Clinton weighs in on the potential consequences of Obama’s decision to go ahead with the planned assassination of Osama bin Laden. He smiles and then pontificates, “Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there . . . suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him [Obama].”
There is a lot that is disturbing about Clinton’s commentary — and about the fact that such an embarrassment was not deleted by the Obama campaign. Clinton offers unintended self-incrimination as to why in the 1990s he did not order the capture of bin Laden when it might well have been in his power to do so — was it fear of something “horrible” that might have happened to his fortunes rather than to our troops? And, of course, such crass politicization of national security and the war on terror is exactly what Barack Obama accused the two Clintons of in the 2008 Democratic primaries. We also remember that Obama on several occasions chastised George W. Bush for supposedly making reference to the war on terror for political advantage, though he never did so in as creepy a fashion as Clinton. And aside from the fact that Barack Obama promised never to “spike the football” by using the SEAL mission to score campaign points, only a narcissistic Bill Clinton could have envisioned the death or capture of Navy SEALs not in terms of those men’s own horrible fates, but only as political “downside” for an equally narcissistic Barack Obama.
In Clinton’s defense, he spoke not just from his own selfish instinct to see presidential survival as more important than the fates of those who actually took the physical risk. Rather, a year ago Obama himself had already hijacked the mission with a flurry of self-referential pronouns: “Tonight, I can report . . . And so, shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta . . . I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden . . . I met repeatedly with my national security team . . . I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action. . . . Today, at my direction . . . I’ve made clear . . . Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear . . . Tonight, I called President Zardari . . . and my team has also spoken . . .These efforts weigh on me every time I, as commander-in-chief . . . Finally, let me say to the families . . . I know that it has, at times, frayed . . .”
As for the civilian responsibility for approving such hazardous missions for our intelligence and military communities, Obama has never confessed, then or now, that most of the anti-terrorism protocols that led to critical intelligence about the probable whereabouts of bin Laden had been strongly opposed by Obama himself. Indeed, almost every Bush-Cheney policy that President Obama eventually embraced — renditions, tribunals, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act — was opposed by Obama as a state legislator, a U.S. senator, and a presidential candidate. Apparently, there is no loudly announced “reset” when it comes to the war on terror.
The logic of the narcissistic mind in matters of the war on terror works out something like this:
The president will take credit for all the successes on his watch, without ever acknowledging reliance on the policies put in place during the eight years before he took office, much less admitting that he once did his best to undermine all of those inheritances that he eventually found so useful. And in matters concerning his predecessor, Obama will damn Bush for the bad economy that he left to his successor and yet ignore Bush for the successful anti-terrorism protocols that he passed on.
Unfortunately, the latest triumphalism is a continuance of a long line of self-adulation that we have grown accustomed to in Barack Obama since he came to the public’s attention — the professor’s two memoirs without a single commensurate scholarly publication; the Latinate motto; the faux-Greek columns; the biblical quelling of the rising seas and cooling of the planet; the fallback retreat to the Victory Column when questions were raised about the appropriateness of the Brandenburg Gate as a venue for his speech; and so on. The common characteristics in Obama’s I/me/my career have been such rhetorical, visual, and symbolic efforts to mask an absence of accomplishment (e.g., why not even one Harvard Law Review article, or perhaps a single publication as a University of Chicago lecturer, or a successful program as a Chicago community organizer, or a signature piece of legislation as an Illinois legislator, or an acknowledged legislative record as a U.S. senator?).
In the world of a narcissistic Barack Obama, rhetoric need not translate into reality. The more emphatic and emotive the pledges to shut down Guantanamo, the more readily all such serial assurances could be ignored. The more idealistic support is expressed for public campaign financing and scorn for bundling, fundraisers, super PACs, Wall Street mega-donors, the revolving door, and lobbyists, all the easier it is to shun the former and embrace the latter.
The Obama way is to offer the boilerplate “I/me/mine/my team” speech, and then simply let events follow their own course — as if the fact that Obama weighed in rhetorically on a topic was ipso facto enough. “Make no mistake about it,” “I” have dealt with the jobs, deficit, debt, and sluggish-growth problems. Ergo, they no longer exist.
So “reset” is grandly proclaimed for Russia — with no acknowledgment that relations have so soured with Putin’s thugocracy that Moscow now threatens to take out proposed anti-missile sites in Eastern Europe. Libya is such a strong blueprint of Obama’s competent and moral “lead from behind” strategy in the Middle East that who cares that such a model will never be applied to an equally disintegrating Syria? That Obama gave the Iranians five deadlines to desist from nuclear acquisition should have been enough for them to desist: So it’s their problem, not ours. North Korea has been addressed, as if the rhetorical and the concrete definitions of that word were synonymous.
So what is the problem with a charismatic, narcissistic president? After all, most presidents by definition must be somewhat self-absorbed. Yet the rub is that the world has tuned Obama out. All his prime-time rhetoric from Afghanistan, the cool multicultural accentuation of Pakîstan and the Talîban, the photo-op reminders that it was Obama who ordered the mission that took out bin Laden — all this meant nothing to the Taliban, who will now patiently wait us out, unleash a North Vietnamese–like offensive very soon, and remind us that just because we don’t believe there are still things like victory and defeat in our messy wars, that does not mean there are not.
In other words, I worry that Vladimir Putin, the Iranian theocrats, the North Korean apparat, the Chinese central committee, the Muslim Brotherhood, and all the others who detest the United States have sized up Barack Obama. For 40 months they have acknowledged that his postracial image and his youthful charisma, as David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs rightly insisted, threw them for a loop — for a while. And that “for a while” is now ending, replaced with a new belief abroad that the more Obama talks about himself and his team, and the more emphatic he becomes with his “Make no mistake about it” and “Let me be perfectly clear” vacuities, the more he can at first safely be ignored, and then, quite soon, safely be taken advantage of.
The problem with a narcissistic president is not just that he sees the world as all about himself, but that the world soon sees that it is not about him at all.
No need to worry Victor, they have sized him up.
As Usual VDH hits it right on the head!
A biracial misfit who grew up in a tropical paradise, Hawaii. And had a commie mother and two Muslim fathers. Who wrote a book dedicated to his absent father. Who lived four formative years (6-10) in Muslim Indonesia. This was easy to size up years ago and Vlad and others have him by the balls via blackmail. About homo relationships and more. What kind of guy marries a huge hulking broad-shouldered woman like Moochie?
Imagine writing a resume for President Obama. You’d list titles, like President of the United States, Illinois senator, Nobel prize winner, Harvard Review editor, etc, but that’s all you’d have. Earning awards and titles IS his list of accomplishments. In other words, you couldn’t explain WHY he earned anything.
President Obama reminds me of a movie set. I have to wonder if there’s anything behind the facade.
“Earning awards and titles IS his list of accomplishments. “
Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there . . . suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him [Obama].
That is horrible. I stopped reading after that comment. That is so horrible. The "downside would have been horrible for him [Obama].???????
How about how horrible it would be for those who lost their lives?
These assholes disrespect the fine people who serve our country everyday.
Come on . . . enough is enough
In a friendly debate with a close friend of mine in 2009, I asked him, "Imagine you are interviewing Obama for a job, any job." I have interviewed a lot of people over the years.
There are a lot of people that can put some pretty creative titles, accolades and accomplishments on a resume. Columbia? Harvard? Not bad. But I never stopped there in an interview.
What did you study? Were you published? What was your final thesis about?
What jobs have you had? How did you pay for college? Have you ever had to fire anyone?
What is the most unethical situation you have found yourself involved in? Was it illegal? What did you do?
What do you think your most important accomplishment is? What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Tell me about your character. What are your values? What are your priorities? What do you think is the difference between values and priorities? I would throw him out of the interview after the 25th Uhm, ahh, hmmm....and I have. I once ended an interview with, "George, what do you really want to do in life? Because from where I am sitting, it doesn't seem to involve work." (graduating college student)
After being out of the workforce for 10 years to raise a large family, I’m now working on a plan to figure out a)where to work b)how to prepare to work there and c)figure out how to get hired once I’m prepared.
your post terrifies me...but I’m going to cut,copy, and paste it anyway if you don’t mind ;)
I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."One sentence, six uses of "I," four uses of "me" and "my," and the revelation that Obama believes the troops are fighting for him personally, not for the country.
This has GOT to be good- mark for later.
haroldeveryman: “Thats priceless.”
And true! The man’s biggest (single) accomplishment as president is killing Osama. Even Obamacare isn’t really his. He simply signed off on the legislation.
Navy Seals being taken out by a bunch of Pakis? What a f**king insult. Clinton still loathes the military as is evidenced by his back-handed ‘’what-if’’ jibe. Six Navy Seals would have piled up a boat load of dead Pakis for sure.
Mooch has a better pair of guns than your average NCAA All-American slotback.
I heard VDH over the weekend, I think it was a tape of an interview Friday ..... these columns of his don't capture the absolute despair in his voice when he talks about Obama and the leadership of the country. That's the only word for it -- he is in despair for his country.
I don't blame him.
A failed mission would have been bad - politically - for Ubama. No mention of the "downside" for the families of "captured or killed" SEALs.
It was all about Ubama's political fortunes.
I don't get flabberghasted much anymore by anything the scumbag Democrats do or say, but this is beyond freaking belief.
I am throwing up in my mouth a little.
This goes beyond your garden variety narcissism. Ubama is a sociopath.
Any good FBI profiler could tell you that.
Pray for America.
Vladimir Putin, the Iranian theocrats, the North Korean apparat, the Chinese central committee, the Muslim Brotherhood, and all the others who detest the United States have sized up Hussein.
Item: Hussein was raised by Commie Mommie (SAD) or equivalent (citation needed), on Frank Marshall Davis' knee and other places of the Red flack and pervert, by the light of Alinsky the Commies' fifth column, Ayers-Dohrn's Manson Bombers Roller Derby, Wrights' Down-Low Lounge where you may do your same-sex partner for six hours after his politically-motivated coup de grace.
Vlad shoots rifles; Barry shoots his mouth, sibilating his esses to signal his persuasion.
Ahmadinejad auditions Barry for the part of the Twelfth Imam.
North Korea only posterizes smashing America; Hussein begins with the economy moving on to slashing the nuclear dike holding back the Islamo-Commie hordes.
North thought Clinton was Caligula. Then Hussein is the pouting decadence of Satyricon.