Sunday, February 14, 2010

With Friends Like This . . .

Barack Obama wouldn’t be president if he weren’t the spitting image of the reflection doctrinaire liberals want to see when they look into the mirror. That’s one of the things that enabled him to pry the allegiance of the liberal community away from Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries. But now Obama’s paying a price for liberal wishful thinking. Consider a Mike Signer post entitled “Is Obama Too Thoughtful?”:
"We all know that Obama was a law professor. He deeply believes the lawyer’s idea that a thesis, brought into conflict with antithesis, will result in synthesis: truth. As president, Obama has demonstrated unheralded courage in his repeated attempts to use politics to help lead toward truth, rather than just a win. You might call this the “philosophical model” of the presidency, and it dominated his State of the Union address. One example was a passage meant to make people reflect on their own responsibility to counter pessimism with a sort of voluntary optimism. Obama said, “As one woman wrote me, 'We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.' … It is because of this spirit—this great decency and great strength—that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight. . . . And tonight, I’d like to talk about how together, we can deliver on that promise.” Note that he says, “I’d like to talk about.” It’s as if Obama is inviting us to reason together. This is what Palin attacks as a 'lecture.'"
Leave aside the fact that the perfectly ordinary State of the Union boilerplate that Signer quotes may not be your idea of a “demonstration of unheralded courage.” And let’s be charitable enough not to dwell on the fact that any law professor or politician who thinks that the point of legal and political processes is to generate truth has probably fallen off his medication. The disturbing thing about this nonsense is that it shows how liberals are already hedging their bets on the Obama presidency. “In a cage-match between nihilism and Niebuhr,” Signer asks, “who would you bet on?”

Obama may be the smartest politician out there, but he’s not, and has never pretended to be, an intellectual. When he was the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review, he never bothered to a write anything under his own name. He was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Chicago for years without ever publishing any legal scholarship. Obama has always had bigger fish to fry. Now he’s trying to do something immensely harder and more important than drawing attention to his intellect. Liberals don’t help him by pretending that he shares their conceits.

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