Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Obama Takes Time Out of his Busy Schedule

To cement his place in history as a disappointing president.
“He is said to be a reluctant politician: aloof, insular, diffident, arrogant, inert, unwilling to jolly his allies along the fairway and take a 9-iron to his enemies. He doesn’t know anyone in Congress. No one in the House or in the Senate, no one in foreign capitals fears him. He gives a great speech, but he doesn’t understand power. He is a poor executive. Doesn’t it seem as if he hates the job? And so on. This is the knowing talk on Wall Street, on K Street, on Capitol Hill, in green rooms — the ‘Morning Joe’ consensus.”

In fact, asked what he wants to accomplish in the next three years — a hanging curve ball of a question — Obama whiffs: “I will measure myself at the end of my presidency in large part by whether I began the process of rebuilding the middle class and the ladders into the middle class, and reversing the trend toward economic bifurcation in this society.” Laudable goals, but to “begin the process of rebuilding” isn’t exactly a rallying cry, nor concrete enough to be measured.

Even Remnick, many thousands of words in, refers to him as the “Professor-in-Chief.”

Even though Remnick’s goal is to probe Obama the person, it’s hard to understand why, given the vast acreage, he didn’t press more on ObamaCare, given how central that law and its botched rollout is to the legacy that the president discusses.

One Obama comment that’s gotten some attention has to do with race. But it’s been selectively quoted by some, while the full observation is rather unremarkable. “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president.” That, as Remnick pointed out, is hardly playing the race card. Obama also invokes Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in defending his insistence on speaking out about personal responsibility in the African-American community. The New Yorker piece has also generated headlines about Obama seeming soft on marijuana — but here too, he straddles the issue. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” The president goes on to say that minorities disproportionately wind up in jail on pot charges.


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