Barack Obama epitomizes perfectly the unjustified self-regard, complacency, and arrogance of our Cliff Notes Elite.
In the Wall Street Journal, Barton Swain points out the dangerous delusion endemic within the airhead Left that leads them to imagine that they are entitled to suppress opinions contrary to their own.
One of the great ironies of American political life in the 2020s is that the people most exercised about the spread of false information are frequently peddlers of it. Their lack of self-understanding arises from the belief that the primary factor separating their side from the other side isn’t ideology, principle or moral vision but information—raw data requiring no interpretation and no argument over its importance. It is a hopelessly simpleminded worldview—no one apprehends reality without the aid of interpretive lenses. And it is a dangerous one.
The roots of this self-deceiving outlook are complicated but worth a brief look.
The animating doctrine of early-20th-century Progressivism, with its faith in the perfectibility of man, held that social ills could be corrected by means of education. People do bad things, in this view, because they don’t know any better; they harm themselves and others because they have bad information. That view is almost totally false, as a moment’s reflection on the many monstrous acts perpetrated by highly educated and well-informed criminals and tyrants should indicate. But it is an attractive doctrine for a certain kind of credentialed and self-assured rationalist. It places power, including the power to define what counts as “good” information, in the hands of people like himself.
There was also, among a host of intellectuals in the middle of the last century, the expectation of a “postpartisan” future of technocratic centrism in which the large ideological questions are mostly settled. What is mainly needed from the political process, the thinking went, isn’t visionary leadership but skillful management. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s “The Vital Center” (1949) is an expression of that outlook, as are John Kenneth Galbraith’s “The Affluent Society” (1958) and Daniel Bell’s “The End of Ideology” (1960). These writers wanted the cool control of experts, not the messy brawling of democracy, which they felt lent itself too easily to revolution. “The tendency to convert concrete issues into ideological problems, to invest them with moral color and high emotional charge,” Bell wrote, “is to invite conflicts which can only damage a society.”
The technocratic impulse is now an integral part of our politics. Those most given to it tend to view themselves not as adherents of any conception of political life but simply as people who acknowledge the world as it is. They regard differing outlooks as deviations from reality that can only cause trouble for no good reason. They believe their critics, who look at the same facts but draw different conclusions, aren’t simply mistaken but irrational, corrupt or both.
No politician deployed the rhetoric of technocratic postpartisanship more openly than Mr. Obama. In a 2007 speech to Google employees, early in his campaign for president, he expressed it concisely. “The American people at their core are a decent people,” he allowed. “There’s a generosity of spirit there, and there’s common sense there.” You could hear the “but” coming. “But,” he said, “it’s not tapped.”
He continued: “Mainly people—they’re just misinformed, or they are too busy, they’re trying to get their kids to school, they’re working, they just don’t have enough information, or they’re not professionals at sorting out all the information that’s out there, and so our political process gets skewed. But if you guys give them good information, their instincts are good and they will make good decisions. And the president has the bully pulpit to give them good information.”
The self-regard implicit in that observation is astounding. More important is its naiveté. The prevalence of bad information is nothing new. Lies, half-truths, wild exaggerations and farcical inventions are part of democratic politics and always have been. Mr. Obama’s remarks reveal a failure to understand that large, complex arguments always involve assumptions and philosophical commitments arising from background, experience and personality.
For him—and he shows no signs of change since he made those remarks 15 years ago—politics is a simple Manichaean struggle in which the righteous and well-intentioned use good data, and the malign and ignorant use bad. Mr. Obama’s most ardent admirers, accordingly—I think of the founders of the “explainer” site Vox.com—view themselves not as proponents of a particular ideological conviction but as disseminators of good data.
Book contracts routinely include a â€œfailure to performâ€ clause. Contracts that come with a reported $65 million advance, such as the one signed by Barack and Michelle Obama in February 2017 with Penguin Random House (PRH), will inevitably include such a clause.
Among the most common of such failures is the failure to complete a contracted work by an agreed-upon deadline. PRH is staring down one such failure right now. At the time the Obama deal was made in early 2017, insiders were telling Publishers Weekly that books by both Michelle and Barack would be released in fall 2018.
Michelleâ€™s book did great, although Insanity Wrap believes there might have been some sales shenanigans as is sometimes the case with Democrat-penned political biographies.
That aside, here we are nearly two years after Barackâ€™s deadline, and the publisher still has nothing to publish:
â€œThe delay is wreaking havoc with print scheduling and of course budget planning,â€ one publishing insider told me. â€œThe enormous advance is starting to â€˜raiseâ€™ concerns within the publisher. While Michelleâ€™s book performed well, Obama needs to deliver the book and sales to make the overall deal worthwhile.”
Back in the early â€™90s, Obama took a $125,000 advance for a book on race and voting rights he never finished, although he did manage to hand in â€œbloated, yet incomplete drafts.â€ He also never repaid the advance, claiming he had too much student debt.
Some of the pages Obama did turn in, he wrote on a third-partyâ€™s dime:
He also did some writing at the offices of his new employer, Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, the townâ€™s leading civil rights firm. Some of his new colleagues were reportedly less than thrilled to see their young associate, feet up on his desk, doodling on his book on company time. The named partners, however, indulged him.
Insanity Wrap is impressed: Obama managed to get two organizations to pay him for a book he never wrote.
Tyler O’Neil finds amusing the Establishment Media’s efforts at provoking Trump into putting a label on what Barack Obama and his minions did.
During President Donald Trumpâ€™s White House press conference on Monday, a reporter asked the president what specific crime he was accusing former President Barack Obama of committing. Trump had tweeted accusations against Obama regarding the unfolding scandal of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation dubbed â€œObamagate.â€ When Trump did not name a specific crime, many left-leaning politicos and journalists thought they had their story.
â€œTrump wonâ€™t name crime heâ€™s accusing Obama of committing,â€ ran The Hillâ€˜s headline. â€œâ€˜You know what the crime isâ€™: Trump stumped on â€˜Obamagateâ€™ details,â€ The Guardian reported. …
It is true that Trump did not name a specific crime when pressed. â€œObamagate, itâ€™s been going on for a long time,â€ he replied. He went on to reference â€œall of this information thatâ€™s being released, and from what I understand, thatâ€™s only the beginning.â€
â€œSome terrible things happened and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again,â€ the president explained.
So why didnâ€™t Trump name the specific crime? Why didnâ€™t he just summarize the accusations against Obama and his administration? Why didnâ€™t he say something like â€œthe collusion caperâ€ or â€œthe spying on my campaignâ€?
The president didnâ€™t dodge the question. He merely acted as though the crime was so obvious that reporters were shirking their responsibility to report the news if they were not aware of it.
CNN reporter Rebecca Buck on Friday said former president Barack Obama is “expressing exasperation” over the Democratic Party’s movement to the left.
CNN’s Newsroom co-host Jim Sciutto mentioned Obama wasn’t pleased by criticism from Democratic presidential candidates and asked Buck what she was learning behind the scenes.
“As you know, Obama has been trying to stay out of this primary as much as possible, keeping quiet, and not making any endorsements even with his former vice president Joe Biden in the race,” Buck said. “But privately Obama, our CNN colleagues are reporting, is expressing exasperation at how far left the party is moving on some policy issues and of course breaking with some of the things he did when he was president.”
Barack Obama condescended to America and to every public figure he’s ever met at an Obama Foundation conference last Monday. He was relaxed, expansive, necktie-less, and –as usual– perfectly sure that he’s the smartest man in the world.
I’m not alone in finding Obama unbearably arrogant, John Hinderaker does, too.
This is the central conceit of liberalism: we know how to solve the worldâ€™s problemsâ€“socialism!â€“but those pesky conservatives just wonâ€™t go along and make it unanimous. The truth is the opposite: policy debates rage across a broad range of issues, and conservatives usually win them.
The context of former President Obamaâ€™s comments, â€œclimate change,â€ is a good example. The liberal/hysteric global warming theory has been refuted, and global warming advocates now admit that their modelsâ€“the only basis for hysteria in the first placeâ€“are wrong. But, like a dead frog whose legs continue to kick, clueless liberals like Barack Obama parrot the pro-government line, not because it makes any scientific sense, but because it supports their statist desires.
Which brings us to the rest of Obamaâ€™s riff: Americans are â€œconfused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues.â€ This is more or less insane. What do hate and anger have to do with scientific debates about the influence of carbon dioxide on the earthâ€™s atmosphere? Nothing, except that hate and anger are directed against all who publish scientific data that undercut the liberalsâ€™ politically-motivated narrative.
And racism? How does race have anything to do with global warming? It doesnâ€™t. â€œRacismâ€ is now an epithet that usually has nothing at all to do with race. It is merely a term of opprobrium, like â€œjerkâ€ or â€œa**hole,â€ that liberals apply to those who disagree with them.
And, finally, â€œmommy issues.â€ I have no idea what Obama was referring to here. What do â€œmommy issuesâ€ have to do with global warming? News accounts indicate that his audience laughed, and reporters say he was referring to President Trump. I have no clue. My only observation is that liberal journalists constantly tell us that President Trump has debased our political culture. Seriously? The debasement, as I observe it, comes almost entirely from the other side.
Has President Trump ever ascribed his political opponentsâ€™ positions to â€œmommy issuesâ€? Not that I recall. It is hard to imagine any former president employing such childish tropes in attacking his successors. Former Presidents Reagan and Bushâ€“George H. W. and George W.â€“certainly never tried to demean their Democratic successors by asserting such stupid slanders as â€œmommy issues.â€ Not to mention racism, hate and anger.
Wherein #Obama dismisses the value of every political figure heâ€™s dealt with in the entire world in one minute and nineteen seconds. Amazing therefore that the â€œworldâ€™s smartest manâ€ accomplished absolutely nothing in eight of the longest years in history. pic.twitter.com/hMg3iK3jlN
Iranâ€™s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari warned Western officials this week that if they do not put pressure on the Trump administration the Iranian regime will leak the names of all Western officials who were bribed to pass the weak deal.
Itâ€™s strange that a president who had such a transformative effect on our national discourse will leave such a negligible policy legacy. But Barack Obama, whose imperial term changed the way Americans interact and in some ways paved the way for the Trump presidency, is now watching his much-celebrated and mythologized two-term legacy be systematically demolished.
This, in many ways, tells us that American governance still works.
When President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, he was able to do so without much difficulty because the agreement hinged on presidential fiat rather than national consensus. Obamaâ€™s appeasement of Iran was only one in a string of unilateral norm-busting projects that deserve to be dismantled.
Youâ€™ll remember the panic-stricken coverage we endured when the United States withdrew from the faux international Paris climate agreement last year. Itâ€™s true that the deal was oversold as a matter of policy, but it was symbolic of how the Obama administration concerned itself more with international consensus than domestic compromise.
We know because the president would never have won ratification for a deal remotely similar to the one he entered â€” nor did he attempt to. Obama had about as much interest in genuine concession as his political adversaries did.
The defense rested on the idea that the Republican-led Congress had failed to â€œdo its jobâ€ and act on issues Democrats had deemed vital. But Congress, of course, â€œactedâ€ all the time by checking the presidentâ€™s ambitions. This was not only well within its purview but also in many ways the reason the electorate handed the GOP Congress in the first place.
Even if you substantively supported Obamaâ€™s actions, the reasoning that girded these supposedly temporary executive decisions was soon revealed to be abusive. In 2012, Obama told the nation that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a stand-in for legislation, was merely a â€œtemporary stopgap measure.â€ By the time Trump overturned it, the measure represented â€œwho we are as a people.â€ Thatâ€™s because by â€œtemporaryâ€ Obama always meant â€œuntil Democrats can make it permanent through the courts or electoral victories.â€
The REAL Reason Barack Obama Was Touting The Saudi-Funded Global Warming/Climate Change Hysteria
The Saudis (as well as Russia and China) spent billions of dollars in media propaganda, university funding, political donations, United Nations funding etc. during Barack Obamaâ€™s eight years in office to further push the global warming agenda. None of that effort had anything to do with global warming/climate change though. It had everything to do with trying to stop this from happening:
Tim Mostert puts the Obama presidential portraits in the right perspective.
The recently unveiled Obama portraits are of a type that I have seen many times in my career as an artist and art historian. The poses are wooden, the compositions hackneyed, and both subjects have obviously been copied from photographs. To make up for the technical weakness of the painting’s execution, the artist relies on gimmicks to drag their image over the finish line, hoping that that will mask his limited technical abilities, or at least divert attention from them.
The official portrait is part of an old tradition perfected by Renaissance painters more than 500 years ago. The artists were generally painting powerful old men, who tended to be a bit ugly. To make up for what lacked in the sitter’s physical beauty, the artist would emphasize the internal. A great painting of a king or pope tells you something about the subject’s inner thoughts, his psyche. The image is more about what’s going on inside his head rather than the outer trappings of his position or status. Great paintings by Titian and VelÃ¡zquez show us the most powerful men in their world, but we feel we know them intimately. This is what a great artist can do with simple paint and canvas â€“ no copying photographs, no assembly line of assistants doing most of the work, and no gimmicks to hide their lack of ability.
The Obama portraits are a sad reflection on how bad a choice someone can make when given the opportunity to do something great.
Think of the position of absolute privilege you would be in, if you could choose any artist in the world to paint your portrait. No ceiling on the budget. You can choose any artist, and he will immortalize, knowing he will be paid handsomely, and his work will be prominently displayed in the prestigious National Portrait Gallery. Bizarrely, you base your choice on political affiliation and race rather than artistic ability. If we chose pilots and surgeons in the same way, most of us would be dead.
Barack Hussein Obama’s presidential portrait, as you can see above, is characteristically incongruous when viewed among portraits of his predecessors.
And there just could be a concealed subtext to be found in his choice of artist. Not every president has himself painted by an artist best known for paintings of black women cutting off the heads of white people.