American Elephants


Figuring Out Barack Obama. Take 137 A. by The Elephant's Child

I think I’ve got Obama figured out. Yes, yes, I know — join the crowd. The line is right over there. Just get in the back.

Obama has a  bad case of BBUL, not to be confused with a bubble, like the bubble occupied by most inhabitants of the White House. No, this stands for “Bright But Unusually Lazy”— BBUL. Valerie Jarrett gave us a clue:

I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. … He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. … So, what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.

Well, Law professor Richard Epstein disagreed. He said famously that Barack Obama “imitates an intellectual.”He got some flack for that statement, but he did not back down.

No, I have known several people like this. Given a book, or an assignment, they will read the introduction or the first few paragraphs and feel that they understand what the article or book contains. They know the rest of it and feel no need to continue, because they really get bored by reading. And they managed to get through college with snips and snatches of the material and filling in with a glance at the summary. Grade inflation in the Ivy League helped. They never studied any matter in depth, never re-read, and never discussed and compared the material with someone else. They already knew enough. And they never read further in the subject in books written by someone with a different take.

It’s the difference between passing a quiz and mastering a subject.

Ever notice in reports of meetings with Obama and how he sits back and absorbs what everyone has to say, then rounds up the important points and, changing them slightly, claims them as his own?

Or take the number of “Czars” in the White House. Granted, an artificial name for officials appointed by the president without Senate confirmation. Wikipedia claims 44 appointees for Obama, 11 for Bill Clinton, 33 for George W. Bush but the numbers aren’t really important. We know there are a lot. And they seem to be appointed to be experts in subjects or policies that Obama doesn’t know much about. He has, reportedly, asked that they present him with a very short summary on a policy and 3 choices. From those he will pick one as his policy.

It is reported that he doesn’t like meetings, and does not attend them. That he seldom attends his national security briefings. That he talks only to his closest advisors, mostly Valerie Jarrett.

So that’s where we are. The September 7 Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reports that 67% of the people believe the country is on the wrong track, more than at this point in any midterm election is two decades. Daniel Henninger in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal:

In a 2008 New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, Mr. Obama is quoted telling another aide: “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.” Also, “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters.”

In the days before Mr. Obama’s ISIS address to the nation, news accounts cataloged his now-embarrassing statements about terrorism’s decline on his watch—the terrorists are JV teams, the tide of war is receding and all that….

Some of these gaffes came in offhand comments, but others were embedded in formal speeches from the presidential pen, such as the definitive Obama statement on terrorism last May at the National Defense University: “So that’s the current threat—lethal yet less-capable al Qaeda affiliates.” A year later, ISIS seized one-third of Iraq inside a week.

I don’t know. I’m worried about what might happen tomorrow. I found myself wishing something horrible would happen to wake up this president, and then was horrified at the wish. It would make no difference to Obama. Major Hassan massacred his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, and the administration has never been able to acknowledge anything beyond “workplace violence.” The Tsarnaev brothers bombed the Boston Marathon. The shooting at the Navy Yard  in D.C. left 13 dead. All on Obama’s watch. And he still has trouble with the terrorism word.

A reluctant president goes to war. Will he be there when the going gets rough? Somebody in the White House said a day or so ago that they would leave this war for the next administration.


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[…] doesn’t want reports either, but just brief summaries. This speaks to a particular mindset, someone impatient with having to read anything lengthy — a lazy reader. Sometimes a piece is too long, the writer […]

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