Long before his coronation—I mean “inauguration”—Barack Obama demonstrated an inescapable lack of humility. Even his apologists had a tough time explaining away such baldly egotistical pronouncements as "We are the ones we've been waiting for" or the mock presidential seal that graced his podium at campaign stops during his candidacy.
Obama’s arrogance is a facet of his personal makeup that has always been in the foreground, even on occasions where he has attempted to appear humble. In his prayerful comments to the American people following the tragic shootings in Tucson in January of 2011, he was careful to exclude himself from the critique on polarizing discourse, eschewing his favored first person pronouns for the third:
At a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
The advice itself was sound, but it was hard to square with its speaker, who a few months earlier had castigated a major cable news outlet, calling it "destructive to [America's] long-term growth."
Yet, I must confess, I had a similar reaction to Splice Today blogger Russ Smith’s when I heard Obama tell NBC’s Matt Lauer before the Super Bowl, “I deserve a second term.” Smith writes:
Americans can, and will, decide whether or not that’s true, but the President’s sense of entitlement certainly rivals that what Romney is accused of every day. Had Obama, mindful of political manners, said, ‘I believe I’ve earned a second term, but, you know, Matt, that’s a decision voters will make in November,’ no one could complain. But ‘deserve’? Shucks, I could tell family and colleagues that I ‘deserve’ a best-selling book, say, or better eyesight, a Lotto jackpot or a map leading me to the Fountain of Youth. Such brio would be met by laughter, or scorn, and it’d be, well, deserved.
In his interview with Lauer (the relevant portion of which is captured early in this video clip), the president essays to explain his statement by tossing out a lot of impressive-sounding numbers about job creation. But even assuming all of his boasts are accurate (and there is much to suggest they paint a distorted picture), his hubristic assertion sounds delusional. It flies in the face of his own earlier prediction—made ironically to Matt Lauer prior to the Super Bowl in 2009—that unless he was able to get the economy back on track in three years his presidency would be a "one-term proposition.” In point of fact, the unemployment rate is higher than it was when Obama took office, despite his boast that his 2009 stimulus would prevent the rate from rising above 8.5%.
Obama has forsaken his own principles repeatedly. Despite an executive order early in his presidency to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay within a year, the prison remains open after three. Obama’s pledge to his base to “reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” has been rendered meaningless by targeted assassinations and drone attacks.
He has failed abjectly to bridge the partisan gap that divides the country, if anything driving a deeper wedge between the two major political factions. He has made a mockery of his condemnation of greedy and evil Super Pacs by agreeing out of expediency to take money from them.
It would be fascinating to hear a frank accounting from the president of why, in spite of these and numerous other false starts and errors, he thinks he is entitled to a second term.
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