Obama’s name game, &c.

On The View, May 14, 2012


Appearing on The View, President Obama was asked whether this year’s election would be tight. He said, “When your name is Barack Obama, it’s always tight.” The View’s Joy Behar, instantly grasping his meaning, I believe, chimed in, “Barack Hussein Obama.”

To me, it could hardly be clearer that Obama was in self-pitying mode: “I am too different for white-bread America. It’s so hard to win these elections.” During the 2008 campaign, he laid great stress on his name. Over and over, he said, “They’re trying to scare you about me. ‘He’s got a funny name, you know. He doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.’” He gave some variation on this line at stop after stop.

How about the notion that Obama’s elections are “always tight”? Oh, which ones? He won his Senate seat by a landslide, after the Republicans essentially forfeited it. He won the presidency comfortably too. I think Obama protests far too much: The American voter has been very generous to him.

Anyway, we were discussing all this in the office, and a colleague disagreed with my interpretation — and Joy Behar’s interpretation, I guess — of what Obama was saying on The View. I was being too hard on him, too right-wing, too other things.

Okay. But you know how one could clear this up? Ask him. Ask Obama what he meant when he said, “When your name is Barack Obama, it’s always tight.” Isn’t there one inquiring mind in the White House press corps who would like to know?

It’s true, however, that Obama does not make himself available to the press too often. He has essentially abolished the press conference. He’ll tell Robin Roberts he’s for gay marriage, as she sits there beaming at him. He’ll chat with the ladies on The View. But really meeting the press?

There’s so much one could ask him, if one had the inclination, and the opportunity. Take the Obama campaign’s slogan, “Forward.” What does that mean? Forward to what?

And an oldie from 2008: “We are the change we’ve been waiting for.” What does that mean? Wouldn’t it be nice if someone asked the president? And he answered?

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright has told Edward Klein, an Obama biographer, that an Obama confidant, Eric Whitaker, offered him $150,000 if only he’d keep quiet until after Election Day. This was in 2008, of course.

Play a little game. Say a Republican president had a controversial minister in his background. And this minister told a former editor of The New York Times Magazine that a confidant of the president had offered him — well, a bribe. Wouldn’t this be the biggest story since Watergate or something?

“What did the president know, and when did he know it!”

The imbalance of the media can be stunning. If Juanita Broaddrick had made her charge — a dismayingly credible rape charge — against a Republican president, rather than Bill Clinton, she would be one of the most famous women in America.

If there were credible charges that a Republican administration had leaked classified information on something like the bin Laden hit, in order to aggrandize itself . . .

I was recently reminded that Obama worked as a community organizer. The reminder came after the president knocked Mitt Romney for his own experience (in business). I then thought of what Susan Sarandon said, after the 2008 election:

“He is a community organizer like Jesus was, and now we’re a community and he can organize us.”

Yeah, well, no matter what, Susan Sarandon is still beautiful.

Have you ever been quite clear on what a community organizer is? Rabble-rouser, basically?

One thing that struck me during the 2008 campaign was how old Obama was — not in years, but in thinking. He peddled warmed-over McGovernism, with some gassy uplift: “Hope and change” and all that. It was as though the entire Reagan experience, the collapse of the Soviet Union, even the advent of Bill Clinton, the Democratic Leadership Council, and welfare reform — it was as though all of that had passed him by. Like he had been asleep during those years. Like he emerged from a time capsule.

I think Mitt Romney agrees, judging from what he said the other day: “As President Obama and old-school liberals absorb more and more of our economy into government, they make what we do more expensive, less efficient, and less useful. They make America less competitive. They make government more expensive. What President Obama is doing is not bold; it’s old.”


After Obama attacked Romney as a “vampire,” a reader was reminded of Lenin — his “Hanging Order” from 1918: “Hang (and make sure that the hanging takes place in full view of the people) no fewer than one hundred known landlords, rich men, bloodsuckers.” To read the full telegram, try Wikipedia, here.

I have read many nicknames for Elizabeth Warren, the Senate candidate and law professor who has passed herself off as a “woman of color,” a “minority” — some kind of Cherokee. A reader of ours nicknames her “Little White Dove.” He says, “In modern America, if you simply ‘feel’ like an aboriginal, aren’t you one?”

Hmmm — guess so! I myself have thought of Warren as the Dishonest Injun, or Lying Sac(agawea).

And I’ve also traveled down Memory Lane: On the college golf team, there was a beautiful girl from Minnesota — pasty-white. I mean, Minnesota white. After I had known her for a while, someone told me that she was in college on a Native American scholarship: She claimed some tiny fraction of “Indian blood.”

“What a crock!” I thought. And I was never quite able to respect that girl, pretty as she was. You could say, “She was just gaming the system, like everyone else. She didn’t invent the system. She was just taking advantage.” Right. But it still stinks.