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Dialing it in: The Obama post-presidency has already begun
The Washington Free Beacon ^ | 6-6-14 | Matthew Continetti

Posted on 06/06/2014 11:05:48 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic

One evening in March, during a visit to Italy, President Obama asked the U.S. ambassador to round up a bunch of—and I quote—“interesting Italians” for a dinner at the ambassadorial residence. The history of the property, the Villa Taverna, goes as far back as the tenth century. Its art collection includes Roman sarcophagi and centuries-old imperial busts. The menu that evening included a variety of pastas, and wines from Tuscany and the regions around Venice. Dinner lasted four hours.

In this sumptuous and Baroque setting, amid these beautiful artifacts of long-gone civilizations, enjoying the finest foods and most delicate wines, President Obama was at home. The interesting Italians surrounding him included a particle physicist, two heirs to the Fiat auto fortune, and the postmodern architect Renzo Piano. The dinner conversation, according to Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein, touched on architecture, on art, on science, and on urban planning. Protocol demands that the president be the first guest to leave such an event. But Obama would not shut up. It was “a quite long dinner,” Piano told Politico.

Piano said that he and Obama compared and contrasted the work of architectural design with the work of drafting a political speech—and in these particular cases, it should be noted, the quality of the results is the same. This was but one digression in a long and meandering colloquy, however. “It took a certain time to end,” Piano said. “It wasn’t like, ‘I have to go.’ We kept going, talking, talking, talking. … You don’t stand up. You stay at the table.”

The next morning, during a briefing, the president—whose office holds a burden of responsibility matched only by its power—regretted that his job involved duties other than pretentious conversation with extremely wealthy famous people. “One aide paraphrased Obama’s response: ‘Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we’re back to the minuscule things of politics.” You know, minuscule things like the maskirovka invasion of Ukraine, the implementation of Obamacare, scandals at the IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs, negotiations with Syria and Iran, withdrawal from Afghanistan. These subjects are far too small and mundane for our president. He prefers contemplative and thoughtful and nuanced symposia on philosophy, quantum mechanics, and how best to spend inheritances—all accompanied by Tuscan wine.

According to Politico, Obama’s Italian dinner party illustrates the paradox of his second term. “Stymied at home and abroad, Obama recognizes that he is less in control of the Washington agenda than ever in his presidency,” write Budoff Brown and Epstein. “Yet his newfound realism has also given him a palpable sense of liberation.” I find nothing paradoxical about Obama’s recent pattern of behavior, nothing mysterious about the golfing, partying, traveling. It is quite obvious: Obama has given up.

He knows that his agenda is now limited to executive orders and bureaucratic regulation, and that even these measures are likely to be in the courts for years. He knows that his foreign policy agenda of engagement with the enemies of America will prove controversial and unpopular. He knows his staff has been ducking-and-covering ever since Lois Lerner announced the IRS had targeted Tea Party groups, and that they have been playing defense through Edward Snowden and Syria and Healthcare.gov and Crimea and the VA and now Bowe Bergdahl. He knows there is a chance that the Republicans will control Congress next January, and he has said, according to Politico, that this “would make his last two years in office unbearable.”

Obama, Politico says, is “giving more thought to his post-presidency than his aides like to suggest.” But there is nothing really for Obama to think about. His ambitions in this office, just like his ambitions at Harvard, in New York, in Chicago, and in the Senate, are now exhausted. America has disappointed him, and it is time to look to the next challenge worthy of Barack Obama. His post-presidency has already begun.

He has decided to relax. He has decided to fill his remaining days getting the most out of his presidential experience. The free travel and lodgings and security escort, the access to good tee times, the ability to get a reservation wherever and whenever he wants, the chance to meet VIPs who will flatter and ingratiate themselves to him—he is enjoying these perks and privileges to the utmost. His motto is not YOLO. It is YOPO: You’re only president once. Why not savor it?

Obama is golfing more than at any point in his term. In March, as Vladimir Putin launched the newest phase of his quest to recreate the Russian Empire, some in the White House had the temerity to suggest that it might not be a good idea to fly to Key Largo for a long weekend of golf and relaxation. Obama disagreed. “Obama sticks to Florida vacation schedule,” read one headline. This was one commitment on which the president would not renege. “I needed this,” he told guests, including his new friend Alonzo Mourning, over dinner at the Ocean Reef Club. “I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I need to spend time with friends.” I am sure the Ukrainians understand.

“With his daughters around less,” Politico reports—without saying exactly where Sasha and Malia, neither of whom is in college, have gone—Barack and Michelle are having more date nights. In April, in New York City to deliver a speech to Al Sharpton’s nonprofit, the Obamas, sidekick Valerie Jarrett, her boyfriend Ahmad Rashad, poet Elizabeth Alexander, and the Dibbles of Chicago had dinner at the Gramercy hotel’s Maialino. Then the Obamas and Jarrett and friend took in Denzel Washington in the revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun. “The presidential motorcade froze traffic out of Times Square and drew crowds of onlookers who stood up to 30 people deep along Obama’s route to catch a glimpse of his limousine and entourage,” said the Grio. I can only imagine what rush hour was like in Manhattan that evening. But hey: Obama needed this.

Jarrett, who serves the same role in this White House that Colonel House served in Woodrow Wilson’s, is the key figure in Obama’s premature post-presidency. She organizes the dinner parties in Washington and abroad, none of which appear on the president’s official schedule. For all the secrecy, the guest lists are entirely predictable. They include the sort of celebrities one sees on the red carpet at Cannes or on panels at Davos: Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Powell and Warren Buffett, Gayle King and Anna Wintour, the CEO of Apple and the head of the World Bank. Like the liberals who attend them, the parties are demographically diverse but intellectually uniform. Of all the boldfaced names mentioned in Budoff Brown and Epstein’s story, the only one that seems remotely capable of independent thought is, of all people, Bono, who is friendly with George W. Bush and got along with the late Jesse Helms.

I like to imagine the conversations at these parties. How are they structured? Is there any awkwardness at the beginning? Does it take a few drinks to get things going? I imagine that there is plenty of hesitant and anodyne talk about children, about movies, about basketball, about the weather. When the discussion turns to domestic or foreign affairs, though, the clichés must be stifling: How can the Republicans be so obstructionist and rude and luddite, what happened to the nice moderate conservatives they used to have in the Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush administrations, have you seen the latest essays by Ezra Klein and Michael Tomasky and Ta-Nehisi Coates, who cares what the media says, E.J. Dionne says you are doing A-OK, what’s it like to hold the nuclear football, have you been to Eric Ripert’s newest restaurant, weren’t the Afghan and Iraq wars terrible mistakes, people have got to recognize America can’t go its own way in today’s integrated, global, flat world, the Wire is Shakespearean, what are you going to do about the polar bears, we need to appreciate the value of other cultures, America doesn’t have such a clean record itself you know, my son just took a job in Dubai, wasn’t Sheryl Sandberg brilliant in her City Colleges of Chicago commencement speech, let’s touch base on the new youth outreach project Mark Zuckerberg is standing up, do you watch Mad Men, politics is a relay race and we just have to keep going until we hand the baton to the next person, where do you come up with all of those beautiful words, we leave for Beijing next week, Putin doesn’t understand how we do things in the twenty-first century, God that Bibi is so unreasonable, who are your favorite authors, it’s time for a real conversation about race, is Homeland like real life, this is the sushi place to go to in Los Angeles, you are a real role model for young men not only in this country but all around the world, I watch House of Cards but my wife prefers Orange is the New Black. … The earnestness, the posing, the sentimentality, the affected and knowing tones, the blather, the sanctimony, the insinuation, the phoniness, the small talk, above all the endless putting on airs before the most gigantic ego known to mankind—that wine had better be good.

“The bull sessions satisfy the president’s intellectual curiosity as he indulges in nuanced conversations about life, ideas, and art,” Politico reports. But how nuanced, really, can these conversations be? Has anyone at these parties ever suggested to Barack Obama that his take on life and ideas and art is incomplete, biased, shallow, or—gulp—wrong? Or that, you know, maybe he should devote some attention to his actual job?

Referring to the administration, one Democrat said to Politico: “I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked at the next three years and think, ‘Oh my God, how are we going to survive the next 36 months of this bullshit?” Good question—one the president seems intent on answering by not caring, by retreating into his comfy and unthreatening cocoon of affluent bourgeois liberals from around the world. The rest of us have to live with the consequences.

The next time the president indulges in his intellectual curiosity, perhaps someone will bring up the subject of political philosophy. I for one can not help thinking of Nietzsche when I consider the drift and lassitude and emptiness of Obama’s post-presidential presidency. The sort of exhaustion we see every day was predicted long ago. “Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion,” wrote the German philosopher of the Last Men whom he predicted would appear at the end of History, would emerge when democracy was triumphant. These hollow-chested men, Nietzsche said, would blanch at the first site of difficulty. They would surrender and look inward, content to spend their days in the pursuit of pleasure. In Obama we have more than a Last Man. We have a Last President.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: distraction; indulgence; jarrett; obama; pleasure; poseur; relaxation

1 posted on 06/06/2014 11:05:48 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Obama is an elitist. Period.


2 posted on 06/06/2014 11:16:49 AM PDT by Starboard
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Obama , The President that never was


3 posted on 06/06/2014 11:26:04 AM PDT by molson209 (Blank)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I think he means “phoning it in”.

Bering “dialed in” is something else entirely.


4 posted on 06/06/2014 11:26:21 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
"But Obama would not shut up. It was quite a long dinner."

Now the Italians know what we know.

5 posted on 06/06/2014 11:26:27 AM PDT by Pearls Before Swine
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To: Starboard; Gamecock; Larry Lucido; KC_Lion

Obama is a WANNABE elitist. A poser.

Exclamation mark.

Double exclamation mark.


6 posted on 06/06/2014 11:26:33 AM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: Pearls Before Swine

~~~”But Obama would not shut up. It was quite a long dinner.”~~~

That’s peculiar. We seem to have had the same problem in America these past 5-1/2 years or so.


7 posted on 06/06/2014 11:27:43 AM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

There is only one important person in the world........and the world had better not forget that!


8 posted on 06/06/2014 11:33:04 AM PDT by originalbuckeye (Moderation in temper is always a virtue; moderation in principle is always a vice. Paine)
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To: Starboard

Obama is a money elitist,not an intellectual elitist.

I can’t imagine him having a serious discussion with all of those others who don’t speak Austrian.:-)

.


9 posted on 06/06/2014 11:47:00 AM PDT by Mears
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To: afraidfortherepublic

he knows his time is short


10 posted on 06/06/2014 11:50:09 AM PDT by bigeggo
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Obama: Is this Baroque?
Italian Ambassador: Why? Did you barake it?............


11 posted on 06/06/2014 11:55:52 AM PDT by Red Badger (Soon there will be another American Civil War. Will make the first one seem like a Tea Party........)
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To: Pearls Before Swine

Italian Ambassador: This is Rococo........
Obama: Oh, I’ve never met her. Is she here?................


12 posted on 06/06/2014 12:05:29 PM PDT by Red Badger (Soon there will be another American Civil War. Will make the first one seem like a Tea Party........)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
From the Politico article linked above:

“There was a time in the first term when aides fretted over elaborate state dinners and how a glitzy Halloween party for the children of military service members, featuring actor Johnny Depp and movie director Tim Burton, would play with jobless Americans. Now, settled into the second term, the Obamas are less concerned about the optics of mingling with boldfaced names, and seem to want to take advantage of the presidential perch.

The presidential dinners, inside the White House and beyond, are more and more frequent. At one dinner, not previously disclosed, the Obamas hosted U2’s Bono, Gen. Colin Powell, Apple CEO Tim Cook, investor Warren Buffett and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Another drew actors Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson, along with journalist Gayle King. Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, attended a dinner with fashion industry insiders.

The guests don’t appear on the public visitor logs because they are considered “purely personal” visits. Multiple White House aides claimed not to know about them. Valerie Jarrett, the senior adviser and longtime confidant of the Obamas who organizes the dinners, appears to be the only regular from the West Wing.

The late-night dinners don’t have an agenda. The protocol is that Obama has to leave first, participants say, but he seems to never want them to end. The bull sessions satisfy the president’s intellectual curiosity as he indulges in nuanced conversations about life, ideas and art.”

Pompous, secretive, elitist and disengaged, all protected by a sycophantic media. That's the 0bama presidency in a nutshell.

13 posted on 06/06/2014 12:27:24 PM PDT by mojito (Zero, our Nero.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
He knows there is a chance that the Republicans will control Congress next January, and he has said, according to Politico, that this “would make his last two years in office unbearable.”

Then do us all a favor and resign.

14 posted on 06/06/2014 1:02:24 PM PDT by Ancesthntr ("The right to buy weapons is the right to be free." A. E. van Vogt)
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To: Ancesthntr

It’s unbearable for us too.


15 posted on 06/06/2014 1:03:57 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Pearls Before Swine

Oh..........so true!


16 posted on 06/06/2014 1:15:06 PM PDT by Rich21IE
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To: bigeggo
he knows his time is short

Sounds like you're describing Satan,,,,,,oh, you are.
17 posted on 06/06/2014 1:35:47 PM PDT by Old Yeller (Anything is possible, if you don't know what you're talking about.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The fourth ‘graph from the end is a classic. The more I read, the more I thought, “This is like something from the Capitol in ‘The Hunger Games’”. Very La-de-da and completely worthless.

The fact that this bullshit makes nobama light up just shows what a shallow, empty, sad, pseudo-intellectual he is.


18 posted on 06/06/2014 3:40:42 PM PDT by upchuck (Support ABLE, the Anybody But Lindsey Effort. Yes, we are the ABLE!!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

What does a man like that put in his presidential library?


19 posted on 06/06/2014 6:00:54 PM PDT by Excellence (Marine mom since April 11, 2014)
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